Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Thing (1982) Review:

Before this adaptation of John Campbell Jr.'s novel, "Who Goes There?", came The Thing from Another World (1951). Many people liked it at the time for its effects and thought provoking story line. But, I'm not sure if anyone suspected someone could overpass it. John Carpenter, the director of famed slasher movie Halloween (1978), takes on this project and executes it without a hint of weakness anywhere. At least none that I could see which seemed like a real flaw.

Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady
The story is about a group of scientists in Antarctica than happen to come across a perplexing and dangerous threat. The threat is a creature of unknown species that has the power to perfectly copy the DNA of any organism it comes in contact with. Because of this, it allows the creature to devour its prey very easily. Over time, this creates high tension amongst the men because no one knows who is really themselves. However, the one individual who does his best to keep his cool (pardon the pun) is R.J. MacReady played by veteran actor Kurt Russell.

It does not surprise me that Russell is in this film. Russell began working with John Carpenter back in the TV movie Elvis (1979), and they continued to make movies together since then through the 1980s. Along with Russell is Wilford Brimley (better known for having a mustache but shaved for this role), Richard Masur, Keith David and so on. Through the whole film, each actor gives their best performance in displaying the sheer terror in not knowing who is human and who isn't. But like most fans, Kurt Russell is the star of the movie and he puts in the best out of all performances because he's able to keep calm.

What IS that? @___@
Besides Kurt Russell, another notable part of this film is the overall set design and special effects. There are only a few places where a viewer can tell that it's not real but it won't matter because it will complete the whole picture. As for creature effects, Stan Winston is the main reason why everything worked so well. The gore is absolutely horrendous. It's not like tons of blood are being thrown everywhere but it's not pleasant either. The sounds are just plain icky and imagery is gross. Oddly enough, what impresses me even more, is that by the end of the film, the viewer still won't be able to give a good description of what this creature's original form truly looks like. It really just is, "the thing". There's no other way to explain it.

The final touch to this film that really strikes fear into most viewers is Ennio Morricone's haunting film score. The instruments that play a big part in each track are the harps, flute, violin and bass notes that repetitively beat in the background. If that kind of music were to be played on a dark night in an alley or dim lit subway, I would feel very uncomfortable. But the reason why it is so much more effective in this setting is because besides the base that is man made, where else can one run? Antarctica is no beach walk. That's the scary part. This movie isn't in it for the jumps and shouts - its goal is to make you feel terrified. A true horror piece.

John Carpenter's version of the 1951 film increases the gore, the terror, the musical dynamics and brings in a great cast to boot. Not for the queasy.

Points Earned --> 10:10

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