A classic that I never tire of, John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of the best creature features ever made. The movie is part alien sci-fi and part closed room mystery, and it delivers in both suspense and horror. Kurt Russell stars as R.J. MacReady, a kind of renegade scientist assigned to a base in the Antarctic. The scientists discover an alien spacecraft, but the alien has already moved on. It soon becomes clear that the alien can shapeshift into anything or anyone, and suddenly the humanity of everyone on the team becomes suspect. The group is slowly whittled away and R.J. has to use all his skills to fight off an enemy that is constantly morphing.
Here are just a few of the things to love about this movie:
- Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady. He just brings his own special style to anything that he does, and this movie is no exception. Somehow he manages to be comical while still saving the day — what’s not to love?
- Antarctica as the setting. For someone who does not love to be cold, I seem to have some kind of weird fascination with things that happen in cold places. It’s a great setting, though, since the freezing temperatures outside the base and the blinding blizzard make for daunting foes on their own. Add an alien, face-switching monster to the mix, and there suddenly are a lot of problems to handle.
- The “who is it” setup of the film makes for constant guessing and sets the stage for the typical human craziness that always ensues when trust becomes even more of an issue than normal. It’s hard to know who is human, and we’re kept guessing. Additionally, the plot becomes even more complicated in many instances due to the “precautions” that the humans take in order to protect themselves.
- When the alien monster’s morphing goes bad. I would be hard pressed to name a more grossly morphed creature, simply because of the many different ways in which this alien’s change can go wrong. The iterations of alien grossness always involve some partially human/canine aspects, blobs of melted looking skin, limbs that stretch and morph into things that are unrecognizable, and lots of blood and gore. Once the “unmorphed” aspect of the alien is exposed, things get even scarier.
- The ending. This movie has a great ending that will keep you guessing and talking for years after your first viewing.
If you haven’t yet watched Carpenter’s The Thing you should treat yourself!