Director John Carpenter and special makeup effects master Rob Bottin teamed up for this 1982 remake of the 1951 science fiction classic The Thing from Another World, and the result is a mixed blessing. It's got moments of ... more »highly effective terror and spine-tingling suspense, but it's mostly a showcase for some of the goriest and most horrifically grotesque makeup effects ever created for a movie. With such highlights as a dog that splits open and blossoms into something indescribably gruesome, this is the kind of movie for die-hard horror fans and anyone who slows down to stare at fatal traffic accidents. On those terms, however, it's hard not to be impressed by the movie's wild and wacky freak show. It all begins when scientists at an arctic research station discover an alien spacecraft under the thick ice, and thaw out the alien body found aboard. What they don't know is that the alien can assume any human form, and before long the scientists can't tell who's real and who's a deadly alien threat. Kurt Russell leads the battle against the terrifying intruder, and the supporting cast includes Richard Masur, Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat, and Wilford Brimley. They're all playing standard characters who are neglected by the mechanistic screenplay (based on the classic sci-fi story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell), but Carpenter's emphasis is clearly on the gross-out effects and escalating tension. If you've got the stomach for it (and let's face it, there's a big audience for eerie gore), this is a thrill ride you won't want to miss. --Jeff Shannon« less
Classic John Carpenter must watch horror. Kurt Russell and others at their best! A unique plotline that horror fans will love!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Rodney P. from BEAUMONT, TX Reviewed on 1/22/2018...
Carpenter's Best Film! A gruesome creature feature filled paranoia and terror
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sarah F. (Ferdy63) from DALTON, GA Reviewed on 6/26/2009...
Classic horror - not to be missed. Of course, if you're a horror fan you already know this. It was made in '82 so the effects are not stellar but the story is fantastic. It would be great to see a remake of this.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Carpenter's masterpiece of paranoia
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 10/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Carpenter's "The Thing" wasn't so much a remake as a reinterpretation of John Campbell's classic short story. Closer in spirit to Campbell's conception of the Thing, Carpenter's film was both critically lauded because of the suspenseful storytelling and critically attacked for the excessive gore. While the gore is at times quite excessive it fits in with the audience expectations after films like "Dawn of the Dead" (the origianl 1979 movie)and other films of the era.
What's amazing is how audiences are drawn into the story despite the fact that there are no characters we really, really like. We admire many of these men and their resolve but we don't like them. They're the product of their harsh environment and isolation. Mac (Kurt Rusell)is the helicopter pilot for an Antarctic science station. Their dull routine is interrupted by a team of seemingly crazy Norwegians pursuing a dog. The Norwegians are killed and the Americans are left without any idea as to what might have driven the Norwegians over the edge.
Blair (Wilford Brimley)pours over the Norwegian journal brought back by Mac and Cooper (Richard Dysart)and discovers that the Norewegian team discovered an alien spacecraft with an occupant that was very much alive. More importantly, it can change into any shape and take over anybody. Mac, Childs (Keith David) and the rest of the crew must destroy the alien before it can spread to the rest of the civilized world.
Previously released as a "Special Edition" in 1998, "The Thing" has been remastered for this edition.The anamorphic widescreen presentation is, I believe, the first time this has been transferred in the anamorphic format. The previous widescreen edition looked exceptionally good and comparisons between the two transfers reveal minimal differences except for the fact that the new edition is presented in anamorphic (i.e. with a higher resolution) picture. There are some minor digital blemishes that occasionally crop up as on the previous edition (which makes me suspect the previous master was digitally remastered vs. creating a new master). The 5.1 Surround Sound mix has tremendous presence and is exceptionally good with crystal clear dialogue. Ennio Morricone's marvelous music sounds particularly rich and detailed. There's no isolated music track which is a pity.
The special features are exactly the same as the 1998 edition of the movie. "Terror Takes Shape" is an 80 minute documentary on the movie that includes both new interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot. Carpenter, Kurt Russell, the other members of the cast,the optical effects and make up crew and screenwriter Bill Lancaster on all phases from conception to post-production. It's an excellent and informative documentary divided into the various phases of production.
We also see outtakes including the deleted stop-motion animation that Phil Tibbert did for the movie. Carpenter cut almost all of it out in favor of the physical effects because they didn't quite mesh as well as they could have. There's substanial behind-the-scenes footage, photos and the work-in-progress visual effects for the film. Essentially, this indepth approach makes "The Thing" as close to a film school as you'll likely find on DVD.
We also get the original theatrical trailer, storyboards and conception art. The "Visual Effects-in-Progress" featurette t gives you a clue as to how the visuals and effects changed during shooting. There's also an annotated production background archive with an essay on the production illustrated with excerpts from the screenplay with photos and production drawings. There's also a brief essay on the casting in text format along with production photos from the film.
The commentary track is the original one from the 1998 release featuring John Carpenter and Kurt Russell. As with the "Escape from New York" commentary track, "The Thing" commentary track is exceptional with interesting and amusing stories related to the production of the movie as well as behind-the-scenes tidbits that fans will find valuable. Both clearly enjoy each other's company more twenty years after their first collaboration.
The packaging has been redesigned. While it is pretty cool, it's not going to be really durable. The exterior plastic cover like that for "Stir of Echoes" looks really cool and wraps around the carbord and plastic inner case. The inner case has photos and images from the movie. The inside, curiously, looks like it was designed for a chapter sheet or booklet but there's nothing inside. "
It was the right time.
Steven W. Hill | Chicago, IL United States | 01/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe someone said so in the DVD's documentary: 1982 was the right time for this movie. Nothing like it would be made today, or even a few years after its release. Even if a thematically similar film were made, it's almost a guarantee that it would use digital effects. This movie boasts the most incredible prosthetic effects ever seen, and I know in my gut that if it were made with computer graphics it wouldn't be nearly as good.Okay, enough about that. I probably don't need to describe the movie itself, at least not from a plot perspective. Let me briefly cover technique: this movie is built for suspense. From the marvelous low-key Ennio Morricone score to the gold-standard cinematography of Dean Cundey, from the scene construction (I love the scene where the dog enters a crew room, and the scene fades out after we see the man's shadow turning - no sting, no shock, just a fade out) to the realistic paranoia and fear building in the eyes of the men. I admit that paranoia movies are a personal favorite genre, but there are very few films that I can say made me sweat from suspense, and this is one of them.One of the film's greatest strengths is the ensemble cast - mostly familiar faces, but not TOO familiar, so you feel a kinship and empathy but you're not saying "oh, that's Richard Masur" the same way you would if it were Bruce Willis, for example. Sure, there's Kurt Russell, but he plays his role so perfectly that he just fits right in with everyone else. Then of course there's the ending, something John Carpenter excels at (the ending of his ESCAPE FROM L.A. made the whole movie for me) especially when in the dystopian mode... so here again we can make up our own stories over "what happened next."The DVD presentation is packed with so many goodies it's hard to know where to start. An excellent documentary, enjoyable commentary, isolated score (selectable during the documentary), even some cut scenes...and so much more. The picture is fantastic, with such wonderful smooth blue hues so prevalent in the movie. For many years laserdisc owners were tantalised by rumours of a special edition with tons of extras, and when we finally got it (on both laserdisc and DVD) we weren't disappointed at all, and it was well worth the years of anticipation.The movie is absolutely not for everyone, as its level of gore is quite high. Many people say they're distracted too much by the gore, but I seem to immerse myself in the film's atmosphere and it's never taken me out of the experience. An engrossing and extremely well-crafted film, and the same goes for this special edition presentation."
John Carpenter's Masterpiece
Lisa Krause | Irvine, CA USA | 03/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Long after its debut, THE THING is finally getting the respect it deserves. I'm glad John Carpenter is young enough to be around to see it. This film was unfairly shunned when it came out because E.T. came out at the same time. Nobody wanted to see E.T. killing people, hence no one went to see THE THING.Along with THE HIDDEN, this is one of the greatest horror/action movies to come out of the 80s. It should be on any serious horror fan's top ten list (it's number two on mine) and it is perhaps Carpenter's greatest film to date. Yes, I think it is even better than HALLOWEEN. This movie sticks closer to the original story ("Who Goes There") that both this and the older movie THE THING FROM OUTER SPACE were based on. The latter was more of a monster movie, whereas Carpenter's version is more of a psychological action film with a great dollop of paranoia. Kurt Russell and John Carpenter work so well together, and Russell does a great job here (along with the underrated Keith David). I hope they make more films together. Wilford Brimley, better known as the Quaker Oats man, is terrific as well. Actually the whole cast puts in amazing performances. On the DVD commentary J.C. says they all were really into their parts, and it shows. The "blood test" scene is a great example of how well they all worked together.The special effects in this movie still look good. I honestly don't think they look dated at all. I imagine that if they did this today we would be inflicted with some dumb-looking CGI monster that would ruin the film and seem silly in a few years' time.If you like this one, get the DVD. It has tons of extras and is worth the money just for the commentary by Russell and Carpenter. 10/10"
Don't rent this. Buy it. Today.
M. G Watson | Los Angeles | 06/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie had the terrible fortune of being released the same summer as "E.T -- The Extra Terrestrial." Audiences had their choice of going with Steven Spielberg's take on aliens -- adorable creatures that eat Reese's Pieces and befriend little boys -- or John Carpenter's version, in which the aliens eat people and befriend nobody. We all know which movie was the hit, and that is too damn bad, because "The Thing" is simply one of the ten best sci-fi horror movies ever made.Forget labels, however. This film simply works. "E.T." twanged at your heartstrings: "The Thing" aims to rip them out alltogether, and it does a terrific job. Anyone who has read any of my reviews (I know there must be one of you out there somewhere....hi, Mom) knows that I'm a huge fan of "atmosphere" and this film cranks up some of the creepiest atmosphere around. Imagine this:You and about ten other guys are snowbound on an Antarctic research station, several thousand miles from civilization, completely isolated. A shape-shifting alien that can imitate any form of life it comes into contact with -- dogs, people -- is unearthed from the ice after a 100,000 year sleep and wakes up in an awful mood. One by one, it picks off your buddies in unbelievably gruesome ways. Problem is, you aren't sure which of your buddies is human and which might be, well, "the Thing." Trapped in the remote station with no radios and no way of getting help, you are stuck fighting a monster that can not only imitate anything it wants, and perfectly, but which can form a whole new monster from any chunk of itself you happen to shoot, stab, or blow off. Now start to realize that if the thing wins, it will inflitrate the rescue team that will inevitably arrive, and from there, go on to wipe out the entire planet posthaste.
How do you tell who your friends are? How do you survive? Are you even sure you should? Ladies and Gentlemen, you've just gotten through about half an hour of "The Thing." And yes, matters get worse.Carpenter is one of the biggest hit-and-miss directors around. When he misses, he usually misses big -- did you see "Prince of Darkness?" -- but when he hits, as he did on "Halloween" and yes, "The Thing" -- he sends that expletive-deleted ball flying right out of the park and bouncing into traffic. Everything about this movie -- the special effects, the dialogue, the acting -- especially by Kurt Russel, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David, but really the entire cast with no exceptions -- hits with magnum impact. If you're not creeped out, you're grossed out, and if you're not wondering who the hell the Thing is, you're finding out in a really unpleasant way. Rob Bottin did once-and-a-lifetime work on the SPFX and gore for this film, and while critics dissed it mercilessly for just that reason -- too much of the red stuff -- there is nothing in this film that happens for cheap shock value. Some have accused Carpenter of catering to those who slow down for car wrecks, but they miss the point -- what comes first in this film is the interplay between the characters. This movie is as much about paranoia as it is about blood, and if it exploits anything, it exploits just that -- our fear. Of the dark. Of the cold. Of ourselves and what might happen to us when the lights go out.Isn't that what a horror movie is supposed to do?"
5 star HD-DVD
Elwood Conway | Frankfort, KY United States | 11/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"yes, this 1982 movie looks THAT good in HD. The transfer done last year by Universal looks absolutely terrific...no complaints. When you can see actual snowflakes against a snow-white background, you know that real care went into the video transfer. And for a movie nearly 25 years old, the 5.1 sound still packs a punch, although the center channel lacks some of today's aural presence. The standard special edition DVD looked great, but this one blows it out of the water!"