Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

THE THING (1982)

THE THING (aka John Carpenter's The Thing/1982). Director: John Carpenter.

The second film version of John W. Campbell's creepy science fiction/horror story "Who Goes There?" In a science base in Antarctica, a thawed out creature from outer space disguises itself as a dog and then as various humans while the paranoid men try to figure out which of them is human and which is the monster. The acting is good for the most part -- although Disney star turned action hero Kurt Russell sometimes acts as if he'd rather go take a nap than anything else -- and the effects are often outstanding, but the characters in Bill Lancaster's screenplay are not likable people you feel like rooting for. None of them express the slightest sympathy for the victims of the creature, or even seem to have any feelings of friendship for one another. Carpenter misses all opportunities for humanism as well. A bigger problem is that the film at times seems like a silly burlesque, and the humor works against the tension of the piece. The bit with the defibrillator and the spider-head is marvelous stuff, however. Rob Bottin's make up effects are very effective. Ennio Morricone's dull electronic throbbing isn't much of a score, however, hardly worthy of a paycheck. Wilfred Brimley makes an impression as Doctor Blair, who realizes how serious the situation is, and Donald Moffat [who has the bushiest, whitest, and most untrimmed eyebrows in Hollywood] and Richard Dysart are as reliable as ever. There are other good supporting performances as well.

Verdict: Essentially mindless schlock but often effective for what it is. **1/2.


The Thing 1982 said...

The thing is one of great movie all time. Movies don't get any better than this! The film is without an ounce of doubt in my mind..loving it.

Gary R. said...

I've only seen this version once, when it was first released. My main memory of it is of the special FX, of course. I've never had a desire to see it again, while I've probably watched the original version a dozen times since. Have to say, I've always considered John Carpenter an overrated director, beginning with "Halloween." He didn't direct the 2011 prequel, so maybe I should check that one out.

William said...

I agree with Carpenter being vastly over-rated. Frankly, I never understood the fuss over "Halloween," which I never thought was all that good a movie. "Christine" was another stinker, and "The Fog" was over just when it started getting interesting. I may have liked one of his movies along the way, but I can't recall which one.