The Thing (1982)

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I have always loved H.P. Lovecraft, and The Thing is certainly Lovecraftian horror on almost every level. This film shares a ton of similarities with the novella At the Mountains of Madness in particular.

That said, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of The Thing. The thought of being trapped in a freezing tundra isolated from the rest of humanity is horrifying in itself, let alone being hunted by a shapeshifting alien. The paranoia and claustrophobia really added to the tension of the film, and the score was also perfect in this respect.

However, there are some very idiotic plot points in this film that really detracted from my enjoyment. The entire opening sequence with the Norwegian unable to shoot or blow up the dog was ludicrous. The following scene with the grenade destroying the helicopter was likewise laughable. Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) building an entire spacecraft in the matter of hours was ridiculous.

I liked the fact that it wasn’t revealed who had been replicated until the moment that they transformed but, at the same time, it felt arbitrary. It didn’t produce the intended shock, but rather a sense of ambivalence because of the inevitability that it had to be one of the characters. The absolute lack of character development or distinction didn’t help this either.

The acting and the script are very bad for a lot of this film, the latter half most of all. Some would blame this on the 1980’s as a whole – and that may be the case – but it doesn’t change the fact of the matter.

One of the aspects that kind of shocked me was how bad the practical effects were. I love practical effects, and I’ll take them over CGI any day of the week but… this film came out three years after Alien. I don’t know if The Thing didn’t have the budget or manpower of Alien, but the practical effects here pale drastically in comparison.

Overall, The Thing is not a bad film by any means. It is a very adequate horror film, especially given the time that it came out. However, I would say that it hasn’t aged well and that the rosy glare of nostalgia rests heavily upon it.

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