Action Movie Fanatix Review: The Thing (1982)

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The Ultimate In Alien Terror.

Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, Keith David

Director: John Carpenter

1982  |  108 Minutes  |  Rated R

“I’m tired of talking, Fuchs. I just wanna get up to my shack and get drunk.” – MacReady

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a sci-fi horror cult classic.  While The Thing didn’t exactly light up the box offices upon its initial release in 1982 it has definitely gained a cult following in the 30+ years since its release.

Scientists working in Antarctica are forced to abandon their research after a shape-shifting alien lifeform is brought into their midst.

I had originally watched the The Thing back many years ago and it just failed to connect with me.  It was one of those situations, though, that I felt like I should have enjoyed it and for whatever reason it just didn’t click so I knew I just had to give it another chance.

The thing that really strikes me on this viewing, probably even more than it did years ago, is how truly amazing the practical effects are in the movie.  I mean, screw CGI!  These effects are right up there with the absolute best in computer generated graphics.  I know this stuff supposedly costs a little more and can be more time consuming but it is worth it every time if you can come even close to this level of results.

Kurt Russell is a badass rockin’ a badass beard and the rest of the cast holds up their end of the bargain as well.  The acting is quite good across the board.

The atmosphere and setting are fantastic.  Antarctica is in and of itself a pretty creepy place to be, especially when you are all alone and especially when there is an alien lifeform trying to kill you.  The Thing does a great job in making the desolation feel real.  There REALLY is no hope for these guys unless they somehow get this figured out themselves.  Add to that the fact that you can trust absolutely nobody and you’ve got some serious tension.

The Thing is certainly not an action movie, not that I was expecting it.  Even knowing that this wasn’t a shoot ‘em up the pacing still felt a little too slow.  I don’t know if this is ultimately what keeps pulling me out of the movie when I’m trying so hard to enjoy it but it sure doesn’t help.

There’s an easy comparison to be made between The Thing and one of my personal favorite movies of all time, Alien.  Both movies have an alien hunting down humans in a remote location.  Both have very original alien designs and some of the best special effects of their respective times.  But for me, Alien still takes top prize by a mile.  It’s just a superior movie in every way.  MacReady and Ripley are probably pretty equal on the badass-o-meter but I’ve got to give the nod on everything else to Alien.

I’m still in a weird place with The Thing.  At the end of the movie I’m still left with this feeling of wanting to really like the movie, feeling like I really should like the movie but not quite being there.  The REALLY weird thing is that I still don’t completely know why I’m not digging it.

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