Greetings ghouls and ghosts. It’s time for the final installment of our Halloween horror film reviews for this year. A few years ago I took a look at the final part of what John Carpenter calls his “Apocalypse Trilogy” with In the Mouth of Madness. This year I’m taking a look at the beginning of that series with one of the entrants in the Greatest Science Fiction Film tournament – John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing.
John Carpenter’s The Thing
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Bill Lancaster
Adapted from the story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr.
Kurt Russell as R. J. MacReady
Wilford Brimley as Dr. Blair
T.K. Carter as Nauls
David Clenman as Palmer
Keith David as Childs
Richard Dyshart as Dr. Copper
Charles Hallahan as Vance Norris
Peter Maloney as George Bennings
Richard Masur as Clark
Joel Polis as Fuchs
Thomas Waites as Windows
There are some horror films that only work once. After that first time you know when the scares are coming, and all the mystery and suspense is gone. The Things is different. It rewards repeat viewings, particularly when it comes to trying to figure out when characters are human, and when they’ve become a Thing.
A minor continuity error – so, in the time it takes Mac and Copper to fly to the Norwegian base, we have an overnight sequence at the base. Wouldn’t daytime be shorter, since this is an Antarctic winter?
Originality: An adaptation of a short story, but one which makes some adjustments to play up the paranoia and horror. 5/6
Effects: The various forms of the Thing hold up quite well to prolonged scrutiny. 6/6
Production: Ennio Morricone’s score reminds me a lot of Carpenter’s scores, in a good way. 5/6
Acting: The acting here is amazing, and it has to be, considering the subject matter. 6/6
Story: See the high point. 6/6
Emotional Response: The monsters are disturbing, and the plot builds an intense sense of paranoia – hitting two of the big, important notes for horror: terror and dread. 6/6
Overall: This is one of my favorite horror films of all time, and definitely my favorite SF horror film. 6/6
In total, John Carpenter’s The Thing gets a 40/42.