Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Thing

The Thing; horror, USA, 1982; D: John Carpenter, S: Kurt Russell, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Wilford Brimley, T. K. Carter

South Pole, 1982. Two Norwegian researchers are from a helicopter shooting at a dog. In all the chaos they accidentally stumble upon an American research team and wound one the members in the foot, causing the men from the base to kill them in self defense and adopt the dog. In order to find out why the Norwegian crew reacted in such a bizarre manner, pilot MacReady and Dr. Cooper fly off to their research base, but to their shock they discover dead members and an alien spaceship burrowed under the snow. Back at their base, the dog turns out to be a deadly alien that can change it's shape into every living creature. The alien kills many of the crew and transforms into engineer Blair, so MacReady blows p the whole station.

John Carpenter filmed this remake of his beloved film from the 50s "The Thing from Another World", but didn't achieve a particular success neither at the box office not with the critics. Subsequently, the movie was revived by a number of critics, even somewhere getting placed as one of the best films of all time, but without much to support that claim: Carpenter creates an incredibly suspenseful film, but it seems he took a step forward to cheap exploitation while the more intelligent and subtle elements stayed out. The main plot revolving around a mysterious shape-shifting alien that eventually even transforms in a human is an interesting allegory about the "invisible enemy" within, and it's a pity that its messages were not handled with a deeper symbolism and that the one dimensional characters remain only things, not real people. Still, the location of the South Pole created a chilling isolated mood, while the paranoid story conquers with the director's iconography that realizes one intriguing scene after the other: when the alien "dog" transforms into an anamorphic, organic mass, it starts attacking real dogs with its tentacles, while the heroes are observing a video tape of Norwegian researchers showing how they found a UFO in snow, even starting commenting how the aliens inspired the Inca civilisation. The special effects of the alien are amazing, especially during its inconceivably grotesque transformation during the blood test sequence, and it is equally inconceivable that the effecs team didn't win an Oscar for their effort.


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