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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'The Thing': John Carpenter's Relentlessly Suspenseful Tale of Antarctic Alien Horror

Movie poster for the film John Carpenter's The Thing starring Kurt Russell

The Thing (1982) is a relentlessly suspenseful and often terrifying science fiction horror classic starring Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady, a helicopter pilot stationed at an American research installation in Antarctica. After a pair of frenzied Norwegian pilots chase a sled dog into the U.S. base, inadvertently killing themselves in the process, MacReady and staff physician Copper (Richard Dysart) set off to investigate the Norwegian's nearby encampment.

Finding scorched ruins and frozen corpses in various stages of decay, MacReady and Copper transport a bizarrely deformed and seemingly expired humanoid back to their base—staff biologist Blair (Wilford Brimley) ultimately identifying human organs amalgamated within the larger mass. The team comes to realize that they are dealing with an alien lifeform that can absorb and replicate any living creature, including the sled dog the Norwegians were so desperate to destroy. As various incarnations of the creature begin to infiltrate the base staff, the storyline evolves into a hair-raising tale of apprehension and suspicion—mistrust running rampant as the creature masquerades itself within their ranks.

Directed by legendary suspense master John Carpenter (Halloween, Escape from New York) and adapted by Bill Lancaster from John W. Campbell Jr's 1938 novella Who Goes There?, The Thing is a deeply unnerving tale of trepidation, highlighted by special effects master Rob Bottin's eye-popping effects formations. His work lends a fantastically gruesome dimension to the film, while composer Ennio Morricone's foreboding score enshrouds the proceedings in an air of ominous uncertainty. Shrewd, inspired and exceptionally well-crafted, it's one of the finest horror films ever brought to the screen.


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