Well I covered The Thing from Another World for the horror dude blog so I figure I should also review John Carpenter’s version of the movie as well. Plus, it is one of my favorites and always gets a watch during October. I assume most of you have seen this but in case you haven’t I’ll make my case for why you should.
The movie is set at an isolated base in Antarctica where a U.S. research station is doing science stuff. One morning a sled dog comes running into camp with some crazy Norwegians trailing it in a helicopter. They seem intent on killing the canine and don’t mind who might be in the line of fire. But the guys at the U.S. camp don’t like being shot at and shoot back. Now they have a sled dog and a dead Norwegian. What to do? Well they decide to check out the Norwegian camp and see what is going on. Now here is where things get interesting.
In addition to more bodies they find evidence that a space craft and alien were found in the ice. They also soon realize that the alien got free and can imitate any life form it absorbs, including the sled dog. Now they paranoia sets in as they don’t know who is human and who isn’t. How can you fight something that could be standing right next to you without you knowing? Eventually they do find a way, but not until many of them are dead and the solution kind of sucks.
This is an excellent movie that again I would expect that you have already seen. I’m going to talk about a few of the things that I love about it, but really if you haven’t watched The Thing skip this review and go watch it. Now back to why this movie is awesome.
The setting of the base in the Antarctica was a wonderful decision in both the original novella as well as both movie adaptations. Though after having read the book and seen both movies I have to honestly say that director John Carpenter brings the sense of isolation to the screen better than either of the previously mentioned. There is a sense of dread and fear once the characters understand what they are facing and that any of them could be a threat. Camera angles, close-up’s, and horrific scares mixed in makes this happen. Plus, we are allowed to see things that the characters don’t which allows the audience to be frightened for them. A good example of this is when we see the shadow of the sled dog stroll into a room and visit one of the men. We don’t know who, but we do know someone is infected. That is good stuff.
Cinematographer Dean Cundy captures the glaring white of the day as well imposing dark illuminated with only flares in a manner that accentuates the creepiness. These visuals are very important to setting the tone for the movie. Another thing that I have to mention is the music by the legendary Ennio Morricone. This is one of the most recognizable scores from any horror film that has ever been made and much like Cundy’s work helps to build and maintain the tension and paranoia that is key to enjoying The Thing.
The cast is fantastic and helps push the story along with their performances. Kurt Russel, Keith David, Richard Dysart, and Ricard Masur are all excellent in their roles. But personally, my favorite has always been Wilford Brimley as Dr. Blair. He is the first to figure it out as well as the only logical solution to the problem. He doesn’t trust anyone and acts on his own and gets locked up for his efforts.
|Don't mind the severed head going for a stroll...|
Finally, I have to talk special effects. Rob Bottin is responsible for some of the most amazing transformations and creatures that I’ve ever seen on screen. No doubt his masterpiece has to be The Thing. The dog monster, the splitting chest, arms getting amputated, a head that sprouts appendages and tries to escape, and other disturbing alien looking creatures make for an amazing time. If you love practical effects work it just doesn’t get much better than this. While I consider Tom Savini to be the master of gore, Bottin is the master of bringing the weird and alien to screen. It doesn’t get any better than The Thing.
Great movie that all horror fans should have seen. If you aren’t a horror fan or just haven’t gotten around to The Thing you need to move it to the top of your list. John Carpenter is a genius and this is one of his best.
© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer
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