The Thing (1982)
Critic Consensus: Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950s take, John Carpenter's The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.
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Critic Reviews for The Thing
Carpenter's direction is slow, dark, and stately; he seems to be aiming for an enveloping, novelistic kind of effect, but all he gets is heaviness.
If it's the most vividly guesome monster ever to stalk the screen that audiences crave, then The Thing is the thing. On all other levels, however, John Carpenter's remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 sci-fi classic comes as a letdown.
Russell's sub-Eastwood heroics hardly compensate for the absence of all characterisation, while Bill Lancaster's script boasts the most illogical climax any monster movie ever had.
It personifies the definition of "popcorn entertainment" - that is, the kind of film that relishes the thrill of its many ambitious moments without seeking total transcendence.
Something close to an absolutely perfect exercise in how to construct a thriller.
Audience Reviews for The Thing
Total remake of an old horror/sci-fi film using an age old idea/fear of an alien creature infiltrating a human base and then humans themselves...its suppose to make your skin crawl.
A bit of a failure at the box office upon release but this was mainly down to the tough competition of 'Blade Runner' and the friendly alien 'E.T.'. Despite that the film came into its own once hitting the video market and became something of a cult.
Personally I think its a good solid film but its never appealed greatly due to its shape shifting alien that is simply surreal to the extreme. Of course the effects are the main showcase of the film and back in 82 they were pretty special, by today's standards on a recent viewing they have aged badly and do look (of course) rather plastic and fake BUT they do still hold up as, unlike CGI, they are actually real.
The imagination of Bottin is clearly let loose big time for the alien as he goes way off the wall coming up with all manner of combinations aimed at making you feel uneasy, and it does work. Utilizing spider forms, snake/eel forms, things growing or under the skin, being violated and having something germinate within you etc...all good stuff to make you squirm. The suspense and bleakness is handled well by a young Carpenter (much like 'The Fog') and examines how quickly people break down and turn on each other. All the set work is cruel and cold looking, good location work and with nice elements of 'Alien' used throughout including the isolated oddball crew at the base which does remind you of the Nostromo crew.
Its definitely a thriller of a ride with some stand out moments which leave you wanting to know more about the creature and its background. The film just loses its wallop near the end as the creature doesn't look quite as cool as previous incarnations, edging down the B-movie route a touch but the one thing I do like about the film is the way Carpenter bookended it. Its pretty much open at both the start and finish leaving you to think about what came before and what happens after, the final sequence with Russell and David is quite original and unique as the heroes/main leads pretty much fail.
Best moment in the film for me has to be the Norris chest bursting sequence revealing a large razor toothed maw where his torso once was, highly original and, at the time, quite surprising.
A scientific research station in the Antarctic is seemingly attacked by researchers from a nearby settlement, but things are not quite as they seem...The Thing is one of the rarest of all breeds. A cinematic remake that is actually BETTER than the original. Easily John Carpenter's finest moment, he cranks up the suspense mercilessly as the small group of characters are cut off from the outside world using plot elements from both the original The Thing From Another World and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Clearly influenced by Alien and clearly influencing Aliens, the sense of paranoia is palpable as no-one knows who they can trust and Carpenter skilfully and subtly misdirects you as to who is infected rather than using the usual clunky and ham fisted red herrings that are the staple of the genre. The ensemble cast of paranoid burn outs are all great, especially Wilford Brimley as the only one to understand the true implications of their situation and even the dog puts in a convincing performance (I know how that sounds but watch it and you'll see what I mean!) Featuring another magnificent score by Ennio Moriccone, some wonderful fire and ice coloured cinematography and brilliant animatronic effects that hark from the days before the glorified cartoons that are CGI, this is one of my absolute Halloween favourites.
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