61 – The Thing

Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!

The Thing

1982

Directed by John Carpenter

Quick synopsis… Scientists working in Antarctica are forced to abandon their research after a helicopter crashes near their camp, bringing a lone dog into their midst. But the plot thickens when the otherworldly canine changes form in the middle of the night. As it turns out, the dog is a shape-shifting alien that can attack animals — and unsuspecting humans. Kurt Russell stars in this creepy John Carpenter-directed remake of the 1950s classic.

I’m really not sure how this has escaped my attention for, pretty much, my entire life. I mean, I would consider myself a fan of classic John Carpenter… with movies like Halloween, Christine, and The Fog. How did I miss The Thing? Not that I’ve never heard about this movie. I could probably describe the plot fairly accurately, even without actually watching it.

Kurt Russell stars as R.J. MacReady, the film’s main protagonist. This isn’t his first time working Carpenter, as he had already introduced the world to Snake Plissken in Escape from New York, and would go on to make Big Trouble in Little China with him a few years later.

I’m not sure what to give away with this one because there’s a big part of me that wishes I knew nothing about it. I know what the movie is about and I know the twists… I may as well have actually seen it already. I’ll do my best not to give the whole thing away, in case there are still a few folks out there who might stumble upon this post and have no clue what The Thing is about.

Taking place in Antarctica, just as winter is about to set in for good, we’re already introduced to an overwhelming sense of isolation at the bottom of the world. During the opening title sequence, we are shown an out of control alien spacecraft heading toward Earth. Then we’re treated to a Norwegian helicopter chasing down a sled dog across the barren snowscape that is Antarctica.

The poor dog makes it to an American science station and it’s revealed that the Norwegians are desperately trying to kill this dog… but we don’t know why. Yet. Unfortunately, this turn of events leads to the Norwegian helicopter being blown up and the surviving Norwegian being shot and killed by the Americans.

MacReady and Dr. Copper fly a chopper to the Norwegian base to try and get some answers about what happened. But when they get there they find the base all but destroyed and everyone dead. More mysterious than that, they find the burned remains of something that can’t be human. Returning to the American station with the charred inhuman corpse, Blair, the biologist, is ordered to perform an autopsy. He finds that this thing has a full set of human organs.

The sled dog is put into a kennel with the Americans’ dogs and soon it begins to change in the most horrific way possible. Childs uses a flamethrower to incinerate the creature. Blair performs another autopsy and hypothesizes that something like this could assimilate all life on Earth in a matter of years.

From there The Thing becomes a tale of suspicion and paranoia as it becomes impossible to tell from one moment to the next who is real and who is the Thing trying to imitate them. It all leads up to an incredible ending where the audience is still left questioning who is human and who is the Thing.

Like I said, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get around to watching this and I’m glad I finally did… even though I already knew what happened. If you’re into something scary with a fair bit of gore involving the alien creature, I definitely recommend The Thing.

In 2011 a prequel was made, which I never saw, either, considering I had yet to see this one. But now I’m curious enough I may check it out.

Having now seen The Thing, it currently ranks at number 120 out of 2,276 movies in my personal Flickchart list.

Have you seen The Thing? Have you seen the more recent prequel? What did you think of either or both? Let me know down in the comments!

5 thoughts on “61 – The Thing

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