Tuesday, 10 July 2012

FILM: The Thing (8/10)

In 1979, Ridley Scott released Alien. Three years later followed John Carpenter's The Thing. These two films are often considered seminal releases in the history of all things sci-fi, alien and horror. I am a huge Alien fan but The Thing has always slipped below my radar until now.

The 'Thing' itself is an alien released from its frozen tomb in Antarctica by a group of Norwegian scientists capable of taking on the appearance of those it infects.

Carpenter regular Kurt Russell leads the nearby US research base that is infiltrated by the alien when a huskie arrives from the Norwegian base. As the base comes under attack, the scientists struggle to control the spread of infection and paranoia sets in as they realise that anyone could be 'the thing' waiting to attack. The alien in The Thing is clearly intelligent as it bides its time hiding amongst the team sabotaging attempts to flush it out rather than revealing itself and taking the team head on.

In comparison with modern horror films, Carpenter doesn't rely on jumpy moments and creates a suspenseful atmosphere using the isolation of location, paranoia of the group and Ennio Morricone's haunting score. That said he is not afraid of revealing the alien in its natural form and The Thing contains some famously iconic scenes, most notably when Norris's decapitated head sprouts a giant tongue and legs and scuttles around. The special effects still look good to this day, however if you consider Ridley Scott's fantastic alien pre-dates The Thing by three years the aliens do not appear quite as polished.

It is worth mentioning that Carpenter decided to cast no female actors, something that a studio would surely not allow these days.

Having watched The Thing now, I see no reason to disagree with the film's seminal status in the sci-fi horror genre. A must-see film and a lesson in claustrophobic paranoia and suspense.

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