Ah, The Thing. Like Alien, this is an older movie. There are various similarities between both movies, which I'll explore in a bit. Unlike Alien, I had seen this movie before--about ten years ago, so my horrible memory didn't ruin anything for me. The Thing was enjoyable, as I remembered (at least I remembered that). Not really scary for me, but I've already mentioned that not much frightens me in way of movies. I do think the monster in this movie is creepier than the one in Alien.
So, what are the similarities between Alien and The Thing? Both monsters are from space. In The Thing, the creature is on our planet, though. Yes, Antarctica--a research outpost in the middle of nowhere, and the winter storm is rolling in, so the team will be trapped there until spring comes. In both movies, the characters have no way out and are forced to face the monsters head on. My husband claimed haunted house movie again, but The Thing isn't as dark and foreboding as Alien, in my opinion.
The monster in The Thing is creepy--make-your-skin-crawl creepy. It's that fear of not knowing, being unsure who the monster actually is. Could it be the person sitting next to you? Is it your husband? Child? This monster can mimic any form, as long as it has enough private time to do so. It's not until late in the movie that they figure out a way to tell who is a monster and who is clean. Have to take a hot wire to everyone's blood, and the creature will instinctively try to defend itself. Great thing for the people with the flamethrowers (if they worked, that is). Not so great for those tied up next to the monster.
I do love the unknown throughout the movie, but I think when we actually see the creature, which is pretty much just a mish-mash of all the forms it has assimilated, it kills a bit of that unknown suspense. The transformations were wonderfully done for a 1982 movie. Unfortunately, the big blobs of flesh with raw dog heads and split human parts sticking out didn't do it for me.
I have to give props to the dog they used at the beginning, though. That dog was a great actor--he was utterly creepy (I've used that word a lot, sorry). The dog had this look in his eye, and you knew something wasn't right.
There were a few other things I felt were off and unbelievable. Many of the actions of the people were hard to swallow. When they don't know who the thing is, why would they allow anyone to go off alone? Mac is still staying in his shed by himself. Wouldn't it have made sense to stick in groups of three, since this creature prefers to attack when it's alone with a victim? Once they clear all the people who are left, aside from Blair, they split up again, leaving one person behind. Why the hell would they leave a single person alone? True, it feeds into the whole ending where MacReady isn't sure if Childs is the thing or not, but the logic to get there has a big hole in it. And near the end, when they are setting charges to blow the compound, Nauls hears a weird sound and slowly wanders to where the thing has just killed Garry. That was an "Are you really that stupid?" moment I could have done without.
True, there are a few unbelievable moments, but I still enjoyed the movie. The monster is a good one (and creepy--yes, I said it again), and not knowing if either of the survivors are really still human is a great ending.
The Thing. Dir. John Carpenter. With Kurt Russell. Universal Pictures, 1982.