Attacking us through anonymity and claustrophobic paranoia, albeit with okay CGI & slightly heavy direction, Carpenter’s The Thing is a horror/sci-fi classic. 8/10.
In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed when they find a helicopter shooting at a sled dog near their camp. When they take in the dog, they realize there is something funny about it, and soon after find its remains and a beast in their camp that can assume different forms of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and the camp doctor (Richard Dysart) lead the crew as they try to discover and battle against the creature before it picks them all off and can escape incognito.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Pros: Great opening scene as we are automatically hardwired to think on the side of the crew and wonder what is going on and why the man would be trying to shoot an innocent dog, intricate and skilled performance by Kurt Russell skyrocketing his career as well as the other supporting actors, terrifying concept in having an imposter alien that can change form so you never know who is real and who is not really who they say they are, overall great direction from John Carpenter – a little heavy at times, bold and out-of-the-box setting for a horror movie in Antarctica and the snow, gets to the horror quickly with the discovery of the remains of the thing and unease taking man’s best friend in a cute dog and making us wonder why he’s acting so funny, horrific horror scene with the dogs in the pen when we see the thing for the first time attacking one of the most sacred animals for humans in dogs, incredible pacing, phenomenal storytelling and unfolding of the mystery of what this thing is and how it was discovered, mystery angle impeccable as you wonder who is really who they say they are and who is not, insane final act with shocking reveals of who’s a Thing including the biggest surprise in that Blair who first warned of their danger is the biggest one, evocative scoring and theme, atmospheric build-up of tension through claustrophobia and a stunning location setting, paranoia
Cons: The FX and CGI pretty laughable looking back – although you have to take it with a grain of salt considering the time, organism could’ve looked way nastier, drastically gory in what will understandably be too much for many viewers, wish they would’ve named it something better/more menacing than “The Thing”, focuses more on the mystery than actual horror, noticeable lull in the middle act, ~20 min too long, Carpenter’s direction a little heavy at times, illogical climax that leaves you painfully wondering what happened at the end, idea & genre pairing heavily borrows from 1979 Alien but doesn’t come close
Overall Rating: 8/10