I’LL MAKE THIS INTRO BRIEF and to the point: If you love sci-fi and/or horror, you must see John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Plot: Scientists at a remote Antarctic research station are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the identity of the people it kills.
As one of a dozen men inhabiting the research station, Kurt Russell is at the top of his game. He portrays helicopter pilot MacReady as a man who just wants to do his job, get paid, and get drunk – but then is partially forced, partially driven to take charge of the situation.
And forget everything you know about warm, fuzzy character actor Wilford Brimley (Cocoon, those Liberty Medical commercials); in The Thing he’s unpredictable, a bit frightening, and nearly unrecognizable (no Cap’n Crunch mustache) as a scientist who’s slowly losing his marbles.
Upon its release, The Thing was dismissed as a slimy, gratuitous remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic. But over the years, critics and fans have warmed to the film and appreciated not only Rob Bottin’s amazing pre-CGI special effects, but Bill Lancaster’s powerful screenplay, the bass-as-heartbeat musical score by Ennio Morricone (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly), the nightmarish sound effects of the creatures, and Carpenter’s masterful hand at creating an intense atmosphere of isolation, paranoia, and distrust.
In addition to being a great film, The Thing also had great poster art (see above) and one of the best taglines ever, which can be seen at the end of the trailer (which is also pretty awesome):
And after all these years, after seeing The Thing dozens of times, there’s still one scene that makes me jump. I know it’s coming, but damn if I don’t jump anyway. Any guess what it is? Drop a comment with your thoughts; I’ll reveal the answer in a few days. (For the sake of Thing virgins, don’t use the name of the person involved besides MacReady – call him “Ishmael” instead).
Want further proof that you need to see The Thing? As of this writing, it’s #173 on the Internet Movie Database’s list of the top 250 films of all time.
(For more things Thing, check out the website Outpost #31. It’s astonishing how much information and material they have about this film.)
[UPDATE: Mr. Canacorn was the only one who tried to guess which scene in The Thing still makes me jump. While he wasn’t correct, his mention for his still-jump scene is actually mine too: the blood test! Four words: “We’ll do you last.” Take it away, Ishmael!]
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5).
I’d hold off letting them watch the entire movie for a couple of reasons:
1) While Rob Bottin’s FX are amazing, they are very bloody, gooey, and gory. And there’s also a dash of gunplay and adult language. In other words, its R rating is justified.
2) As a 14-year-old gorehound who saw The Thing on HBO, I was too young to appreciate all the other remarkable elements of the film besides the gnarly special effects.
I know teens are growing up much faster than in my day – and thanks to the Internet, they see more depraved things than ever before. But for your kids to truly appreciate The Thing, I would wait until they are at least a couple years older than I was at my first viewing.
Will your FilmMother like it?This may be a broad stroke, but I don’t think too many FilmMothers will care for The Thing – which is a shame, because it has top-tier dialogue, direction, acting, and FX. (This is probably one to watch by yourself, with your buddies, with your teenage son(s), etc.) However, if she likes being scared or burying her face in your shoulder when nasty stuff happens on-screen, you may be in luck.
* Director: John Carpenter
* Screenwriter: Bill Lancaster
* Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur, Charles Hallahan
* MPAA Rating: R
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