John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982): No One is Safe

John Carpenter's The Thing

John Carpenter’s “The Thing” is a movie I have been meaning to watch for sometime. As someone who loves murder mysteries and sci. fi. and quite a few other stories that have been inspired by this story (the story isn’t new John Carpenter is just one of the people at this time to cover the “Alien hiding among us story”). There was a version in 1951 called a “The Thing from Another World,” and the original story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell and a 2011 remake. I don’t plan on checking out the 2011 one, but the 1951 “The Thing from Another World” will probably be reviewed at some point, and I plan on reading the original story.

The story begins with an alien vessel crashing in the arctic. A science team from the United States soon find themselves cut off from the outside world and begin getting killed off by the alien that has infiltrated them. The story unfolds mostly through the eyes of Kurt Russell’s character R.J. who discovers the base the alien destroyed prior and later what went down at the base he is a part of.

Here is the assessment:

Pros: The music – Is a masterpiece. I plan on using this music in my own writing. It is wonderful at creating tension and giving the sense of isolation and being trapped that the crew who is going through the terror feels.

The script – The screenplay is perfect in that it shows us all we need to know. It doesn’t do a trite, “An alien spaceship has fallen off course and crash landed on Earth. Little does Earth know what it has gotten into.” We see this story through the eyes of the victims, and that is what makes it so masterful…you don’t know who has been taken over and who hasn’t so you can see why the survivors at different times take the actions they take.

The Dialogue is also great too. Every character feels real and in the time and place (The 80’s and in the Arctic) that they are meant to be.

The Thing – Is brilliant and horrifying. The basic thing it does is imitate life forms after absorbing them…how it does this is by wrapping it’s internal organs around them and pulling them in, it can than incorporate however many creatures around it and makes them like the organic red it is before it turns into them proper. It is a horrifying creature and achieves the horror element (besides possession and absorbing said life forms) that make it such a great foe. It thinks like a creature that needs other life forms to spread itself and grow…by far one of the greatest threats in any movie. It can be anyone or anything (multiple life forms) but thinks as one being. Much like a wholly organic Borg. When it appears it looks like a Lovecraftian  nightmare of teeth and tentacles intermixed with what creatures it has absorbed.

The cinematography – Is brilliant. It captures the loneliness and desolation of the arctic, the mystery of the alien and alien spacecraft (the reveal shot of the spacecraft is perfect) and the paranoia among the members of the crew. You feel the crew being stalked as they warily watch one another when it arrives at that point.

The acting and characters – The cast is solid. They all feel like real people put into a really bad situation. Kurt Russel is great as the drunk cynic who for the reason he doesn’t believe in anyone or anything gives him a survivor’s edge over The Thing which can be any person or thing. You can see where each person is coming from and why each of them do the things they do…which is tough to pull off when you have a large cast that you have to kill off. It is also great that R.J. is not the only to survive, Childs (who also breaking survival tropes where the African American character usually dies (horrible trope that will get an article at some point) also survives.

The ending – Is great for this type of movie. You don’t know if they won, but on all counts it looks like they did, but at the cost of their lives…though in the end they can trust one another after everything that happens and share a scotch in the burning camp.

For a movie of this type, it was perfect. It was survival horror that got everything right. I can’t find anything to criticize about this film. It achieves what it needs to achieve and does in an intelligent, respectful and brilliant manner.

I highly recommend this film. 10 / 10.



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