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The Thing
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
John Carpenter

Written By:
Bill Lancaster

Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, Richard Masur, Keith David, Richard Dysart, David Clennon, Donald Moffat, Thomas G. Waites, Charles Hallahan, Norbert Weisser, Larry J. Franco, Nate Irwin

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The Thing (1982)
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Movie Review by Filmkiller
October 20th, 2007

A Good Thing

John Carpenter has been around for a long time and, while many have been entertaining, few of his films are considered high quality; none has ever illustrated the same level of skill and precision as The Thing, a remake of Howard Hawks' The Thing From Another World (1951).

Carpenter's Thing features a group of research scientists and support staff in a remote station somewhere in Antarctica. The movie starts with two Norwegians in a helicopter chasing, one leaning out firing a rifle at, a husky dog fleeing across an icy plain towards the American research facility. The Norwegians seemed crazed; they shoot at the dog without a care for collateral damage, wounding one of the scientists, Bennings (Peter Maloney), and losing the handle on a hand grenade destroying their helicopter and killing one of them. The other marches on until shot dead by facility boss, Gary (Donald Moffat), while the dog is taken in by Clark (Richard Massur), the resident dog handler.

Radio operator Windows (Thomas G. Waites) tries to report the incident to someone - anyone - but due to bad weather is unable to reach anyone. Knowing the general location of the Norwegian research station, the resident doctor, Copper (Richard Dysart), and one of the helicopter pilots, R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell), fly out to see if there's anyone that needs assistance; what they find is a freak show of human remains and video tape footage of the Norwegians discovering an alien spacecraft. Most of the station is destroyed, but Copper and Mac take back the research materials and the 'human' remains (to perform an autopsy and study).

Obviously the dog is more than it appears, and in short order it makes it move to assimilate the entire research team. Fighting back first requires understanding, something that is as horrifying as the Thing itself. The crew tries to stick together amidst mistrust and paranoia as the Thing plays its shell game, hiding within the people hunting it until it's cornered and forced to fight (which it does in a nightmare inducing, gruesome fashion).

Like recent horror films, The Thing is chocked full of gore and violent deaths. Where it trumps recent horror films (including Carpenter's own recent work) is that what truly terrifies the audience is not the gore, but the tension that leads up to it caused by a genuine fear of the unknown. For example, two of the more disturbing scenes are merely conversions when scientists Blair (Wilford Brimley) and Fuchs (Joel Polis) discuss the Thing's capabilities.

I rate the Thing as the greatest horror movie of all time. Even when considering movies like Alien, Silence of the Lambs, Hitchcock's Birds (or anything else for that matter), Terminator, etc, the Thing is simply the most terrifying beast of the lot. By the very nature of what the Thing is - the unknown hiding as someone or something known - it represents the very root of paranoia, and the fear of death is supplemented with fears regarding our own identity.

The Thing is also well written. The characters are mostly scientists - intelligent - and they act like it; the film also ends the same way it begins - with the audience wondering who to trust.

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Oct 21, 2007 11:52 AM
I love this movie, but I'd put it slightly behind Halloween.

Oct 22, 2007 2:49 AM
Great review for a great film......I like Big trouble in little china the best though.....

Oct 23, 2007 12:02 AM
I remember hearing Big Trouble was originally supposed to be a western. I would've loved to see it as one.

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