1982 was the year moviegoers encountered an alien who came to Earth and forever changed the life of the film’s protagonist. This main character may have represented many of us during times when we felt lonely and isolated.
However, that protagonist was definitely not a 10-year-old named Elliot. As a matter of fact, it just happens to be the bearded badass helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady, played by Kurt Russell. And while E.T. did a remarkable job concealing himself from Elliot’s mother, that lovable alien can’t hold a candle to the biological assimilation skills of ‘The Thing.’ This John Carpenter film is today’s Throwback Thursday, a look at sci-fi of the past.
While ‘E.T.’ surpassed ‘The Thing’ at the box office that year and went on to become a cinematic classic, ‘The Thing’ grew into a classic of its own gaining a cult following and appearing on many lists that call it one of the scariest sci-fi horror movies.
Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ is the first in his Apocalypse Trilogy followed by ‘Prince of Darkness’ (1987) and ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ (1995). The story is based on John W. Campbell Jr.’s 1938 novella ‘Who Goes There?’. Bill Lancaster (Burt Lancaster’s son) penned the script.
The aforementioned MacReady is stationed with a research team in the Antarctic when a dog comes rushing toward the station being pursued by a Norwegian helicopter. The helicopter explodes and the other Norwegian wielding a gun is shot. MacReady heads to the Norwegian station to get some clues, and he finds a mangled corpse with two faces. Shortly after, we witness the dog from before morph into an unnatural aberration of an animal and attack the other dogs.
After unearthing a flying saucer, the team concludes that an alien invaded our planet over 100,000 years ago and is preying on life to survive. However, this extraterrestrial is not a little green fella but a completely invisible parasitic monster able to imitate its host body and morph into some of the most insane conglomerations of body parts ever imagined. The team turns on each other, making ‘The Thing’ not just a gorefest but also an intense psychological thriller.
For lovers of gore, ‘The Thing’ is the gift that keeps on giving. Watching it again, after past summers immersed in CGI, ‘The Thing’ shows that stop motion is still mind-blowing, especially when it’s used in a story taken from the universal nightmare of shape-shifting villains.