Thursday, October 13, 2011

"The Thing" a cult classic well worth the attention

TITLE: "The Thing"
DIRECTOR: John Carpenter
STARS: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
EDITOR: Todd Ramsay
AWARDS: Best Horror Film, Best Special Effects (Rob Bottin) (Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA)
BOX OFFICE: $19,629,760 (USA)
RUN TIME: 109 min.


When a team of researchers in the antarctic are visited by a lost wolf, not all is as it appears to be. After a freak occurrence, the team begins to doubt themselves, and paranoia sets in as they realize an alien symbiote has invaded and is killing them one by one, and it assimilates and imitates their bodies.

John Carpenter's "The Thing" is essentially a remake of "The Thing From Another World" (1951), though it sticks closer to the source material (a novella by John W. Campbell Jr.). It stands apart from other genre films of the time by having revolutionary effects, and a wonderful focus on paranoid characters, as opposed to the famed slasher films of the same decade.

While the movie flopped, and received poor reviews upon release (it has since become a hit on video, adored by critics, and even spawned a prequel that hits theaters this weekend), the visual effects garnered high praise. Rob Bottin, who was 22 at the time, designed and created almost all the effects himself, with one key effect (the dog-thing) being designed by Stan Winston. Throughout the film, stop motion techniques, model work, animatronics, and make up effects are all utilized to show an amazing creature taking the forms of others, and breaking out of it's disguises in disturbing and visceral ways. It can be hard to watch, but worth it to sci-fi and horror fans.

Where the movie really shines though, is its characters. Rather than focus on the gore scenes, and lose all heart of the film, Carpenters repeatedly shows the characters sans violence and effects all the way to the closing credits. His focus on the human element helps the audience feel trapped in the antarctic with the characters themselves. Who is the thing, and who isn't? It could be you!

"The Thing" is one of those rare horror films that has a legitimately interesting story, and it shines. While this movie may be too graphic for some, it is well worth it to get to the meat of the tale.

After watching many a horror, thriller, or action film that lacked any personality, it is nice to see of piece of semi-exploitative work that exists to show a story, instead of just violence. The film drags at the beginning of the third act, but that is also where it excels. By building the tension, even the "boring" scenes leave the viewer on edge. This is a very worthwhile film for any horror or sci-fi fan.

MY IMDb RATING:  8 out of 10

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