Okay, it is getting close to Halloween so I thought I might talk about one of my favorite “horror” movies of all time. Of course, we know that years after they come out a horror movie is just no longer as scary as it once was. Think about it, Friday the 13th, boring, Nightmare on Elm Street, no that was just a bad enchilada, and Halloween, well once you know it is a William Shatner mask it just stops being scary. With that in mind I thought I would touch on one of my all time favorites, while no longer carries the scare factor is still enjoyable. The movie you should see this Halloween season is John Carpenter’s The Thing. Oh, man.
There are actually three movies, the one you want is the 1982 Kurt Russell and Wilford “diabeetus” Brimley in this science fictiony thriller. Nevermind the 2011 edition, blah, or the 1951 quasi-classic The Thing from another world. No, Kurt Russell is at his best as a cynical helicopter pilot, McReady, in the remote Antarctic wasteland right at the start of winter, when they will be cut off from the rest of the world until spring. They have already encountered two Norwegian men from another station chasing a dog in another helicopter and trying to kill it. One blows himself up when they land at the camp and the other is killed by the one of the American camp members. They of course take the dog in. That is all fine and dandy until they leave the dog alone with the other dogs and it splits open and starts taking them over. Which kind of freaks everyone out, and they start killing and burning the thing. McReady along with Fuchs, one of the scientists, realize that the thing can mimic anything or anyone given enough time. But it wants to do it in private. McReady gives a good speech about it when they burn the remains they have brought back from the Norwegian camp as well. He is the hero of the thing and lets you know from the start he is the good guy, but at the same time you get the eerie feeling that someone is watching everyone from the moment the dog comes into camp. The movie, despite its long outdated special effects, is very tense psychologically, and of course had the whole man versus nature element being set in the antarctic in they early 80’s.
Probably the reason this film turned out so well is that it is a pretty close adaptation of the 1938 Science Fiction novella Who goes there? by John W. Campbell Jr, which has been voted as one of the finest sci-fi novellas ever written. Basically, the same thing happens, an Antarctic research crew finds a ship buried in the ice and tries to unearth it, as well as thawing out the pilot. It comes alive and is revealed as a shape shifter, able to take the place of any living thing and replicating it perfectly. This causes everyone to distrust one another during their time there. They end up in the film and the story trying to kill each other, while trying to make sure the creature can’t get back to civilization where it would almost certainly be able to covert the population of the planet.
So check it out at your video store or on Netflix, you won’t be disappointed.