The Thing (1982) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Thing (1982) Review

Horrorific content by Ciarán Coleman on August 14th, 2021 | Movie Review | Alien, Sci-Fi, Desolate, Creature

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It’s about a group of researchers being hunted and assimilated by a shapeshifting alien at a research facility in Antarctica.

Few films have made as big a comeback or amassed as big a cult following as John Carpenter’s 1982 ‘The Thing’. Based on John W. Campbell’s Jr. novella ‘Who Goes There’, it stars Kurt Russel as the main protagonist, R.J MacReady, the group's helicopter pilot, Keith David as Childs the U.S. Outpost 31 mechanic, Wilford Brimley as Blair the Biologist, Donald Moffat as M. T. Garry the Commander of U.S. Outpost 31 and others.

Man is The Warmest Place to Hide.

The Thing Review

On its release, it was met with a surplus of negative reviews, mostly aimed at its lack of characterisation and disgusting creature design. Over time, however, the genius of these decisions were realised and ‘The Thing’ has since become a staple of sci-fi horror and is widely regarded as one of the best horror films ever made. 

‘The Thing’s plot is one of its many highlights and has been replicated in countless mediums over the past thirty years. That being said, none, including the 2011 remake, has come close to the sense of dread and suspense created by John Carpenter’s 1982 film. Ennio Morricone provides a fantastic score that perfectly captures the nihilistic tone of the film.

You can’t review ‘The Thing’ without commenting on the unbelievable practical effects found throughout its 1hr 49m runtime. The slimy, disturbing effects still hold up, better than that which are found in the majority of films nowadays. From a morphing dog to a head with spider legs coming out of it, this film set the standard for grotesque Love-craftian horror that’s still unmatched today. Rob Bottin is mostly responsible for creating the incredibly realistic effects in ‘The Thing’.

The performances from the cast, particularly Kurt Russell and Keith David, are natural and engaging, solidifying the idea that these men do not trust each other. The setting, bleak and cold, was the perfect choice for ramping up the constant feeling of despair. The film geniusly forces the characters to wait and sit still, never knowing if the danger is beside them or even inside them. The lack of action at times makes the viewing far more nerve-wracking.

The best, and most underrated aspect of ‘The Thing’ is its blend of gore, violence and psychological horror. Despite the excessive and gruesome gore found throughout, the film is mainly psychological, focusing on the effects of cabin fever mixed with an alien invasion. How do a group of men fully aware there’s little chance of escape function? Who is real and who is not? The lack of trust and suspense surrounding each of the men makes for some of the most riveting scenes in John Carpenter’s career.

Worth Watching?

Absolutely. This is one of the best horror films of all time, with special effects, writing and a brilliant ending that all amass to make ‘The Thing’ unparalleled to this day.

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