Previously I reviewed The Thing From Another World. While that movie was good in it’s own right, especially in it’s contribution to the horror genre as a whole, it ultimately pales in comparison to the John Carpenter remake that came in 1982. With almost the exact same story, a group of scientists in the Antarctic find themselves in a head-to-head battle against an alien life-form that has been trapped beneath the ice for thousands of years. Whereas the previous iteration was essentially a carnivorous plant, this new monster is decidedly flesh based. Capable of perfectly replicating any of the team members inhabiting the claustrophobic base, tensions rise as trust between the humans falls.
Kurt Russell plays MacReady the groups helicopter pilot and eventual leader when things go down hill. Once he and the others realize that the alien they’ve discovered could have taken over and duplicated any one of them, it is far too late to do anything about it. MacReady is forced to come up with a way to differentiate between those that are truly human and the thing, while in the mean time accusations and suspicions run rampant. The tension is perfectly transferred to the audience through excellent camera work and cinematography. that makes us feel almost as claustrophobic and stuck as the cast. While outside the environment looks hostile and unforgiving, just as dangerous as the monster that seeks them. Another fantastic element is the incredibly unsettling use of 1980s era special effects, coupled, of course, with gallons of blood. But it isn’t the blood that makes this movie truly terrifying, rather it’s the intellectual concepts behind the terror. People that were friends or colleges are being perfectly replicated, even in attitude and manner. Given the chance, these people that were once friends will do all they can to end your life and assist in the destruction of the planet.The film does a great job of examining the relationships and prejudices of each character. Some are liked more than others, while those that weren’t favored before the alien arrived become targets for the largest amounts of suspicion.
Unique and thought provoking concepts in horror give me the biggest scares, which is exactly what this film delivers. An unfortunate idea behind modern horror is that the scariest thing that can happen is you die at the hands of someone in a scary mask . While that certainly is a frightening prospect, it’s become incredibly cliche. The Thing manages to incorporate the element of a terrible death and build upon the reasons behind the terror. It isn’t just that you could die, but you could die at the hands of someone you trusted. Death isn’t the only thing to fear in this film, but the consequences of losing to the monster becomes apparent in the fact that losing to it could mean the destruction of the entire human race, everyone one you love and care about, dead because of your failure to protect them. It’s uncommon for horror movies to strive for anything more than a cheap scare, but this is just as much a sci-fi as it is a horror movie; as such, it uses various methods to present concepts that are engaging and interesting the the audience, while at the same time scaring us beyond reason. While the film certainly utilizes gross out and pop up scares, it’s the underlying raw paranoia that keeps you enthralled and terrified, even after the credits begin to roll.