Monday, August 8, 2011

The Thing

A Husky runs into an American outpost in remote Antarctica, being chased by Norwegians in a helicopter attempting to shoot it. At the chopper lands, one man accidentally drops a grenade, blowing up himself and the craft while another pursues the dog. After he wounds one of the Americans, he is shot dead and two of the Americans, a pilot and the doctor decide to check out the Norwegian's camp after the suspicious happenings. There they find a the post in ruins along with burned bodies, a frozen man with his throat slit, and an open coffin like apparatchiks. When they return to base, they discover the real reason those men were trying to kill the dog, and a battle begins between not only the men and the deadly shape shifting creature but also amongst the men themselves. John Carpenter's The Thing is based on John W. Campbell Jr.'s novel Who Goes There? which inspired the 1951 film "The Thing from Another World" and it does something interesting with the gruesome monster movie by placing it in the isolated world of the Antarctic, resulting in intense situations and plotting. Kurt Russell is effective as the pilot who becomes the leader when the thing takes over the camp and I liked Wilfred Brimley as the doctor who discovers the true nature of the beast. I found the monster itself to be too grotesque to the point that it somewhat detracts from the story, then again the story is set up very well. The snowy locales provide some nice and foreboding visuals and I liked certain touches such as the ending (spoilers) of the film which ends not in a bloody massacre but in a cold and silent standoff. The movie also seems to have inspired subsequent filmmakers and I thought of James Cameron a lot during this movie, particularly "The Abyss" and "Terminator 2: Judgement Day". As a monster movie, The Thing achieves its primary objective of being eerie, scary, and entertaining and with some effective visuals and plotting it succeeds at being something more as well.