John Carpenter and Kurt Russell teaming up can only mean one thing: a crazy movie that is a surefire cult hit! And that’s exactly what this is. It’s weird, it’s scary and it’s really good.
The film follows a ‘Thing’ that gets into a research camp in the Antarctic. It’s a weird alien creature that takes on the form of its host like a parasite and then absorbs other beings into it. The inhabitants of the station discover this creature and soon struggle to find out where it is, who it is and how to survive. It’s a simple yet interesting idea that leads to some great situations. Who can these guys trust? The paranoia that comes from not knowing who to trust and who could be the Thing is really great and makes the entire film so tense. And the further along it goes, the more tense it gets and the scarier the whole situation feels.
Kurt Russell heads up the cast and is excellent. He’s the coolest under pressure and takes charge of the situation at hand. He’s commanding and a powerful presence, one which Russell confidently plays. He gets serious, he even gets a little scary himself, but he’s always great to watch. But soon he, just like the rest of the men, start to go a little crazy. That’s the beauty of this film. Anyone could be the Thing and they all suspect one another in order to ensure their own survival. It’s the ultimate study of character. The rest of the cast all put in great performances as the various tempered members of the research team, in particular A. Wilford Brimley as Blair, at first a rational man who quickly succumbs to the craziness of the events occurring.
The musical score by Ennio Morricone is used sparingly, but when it chimes in it is chillingly haunting. It all adds to the atmosphere, as does Carpenters direction. There’s a lot of close up shots and long takes of the isolated station as the characters begin to lose their sanity. There’s lots of long pauses, lots of slow tracks down hallways and lots of snowy winds sounds, making the place seem altogether rather creepy and alone. Speaking of creepy, the practical effects in this film are insane. And by insane I mean really disgusting. Each and every time the Thing transforms and bursts out of a body in some horrific way it looks absolutely mental and extremely horrible. The effects, the make up and costume, the model work. It all looks really amazing. That it is so disgusting is just a testament as to how good they really are. It all looks perfectly real and is the stuff of nightmares.
From the ambiguous opening to the even more mysterious ending, this film is great. It’s a really good horror, focusing on the breakdown of the character’s emotional states as they try desperately to survive and kill this Thing. It’s tense and is still pretty scary to this day. It looks good, plays good and is very good.
JACK’S SCORE: 4/5