The Thing

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

An American Antarctic research team stationed at the United States National Science Institute Station 4 or Outpost 31 is alerted by gunfire and explosions. An Alaskan Malamute is trying to evade a Norwegian helicopter with an on-board rifleman frantically trying to kill the dog. The helicopter lands and the rifleman attempts to volley a thermite charge but accidentally drops the grenade. The pilot tries to pick it up but dies in the subsequent explosion, destroying the helicopter in the process. Unable to communicate with the American team in English, the rifleman fires at the dog, grazing Bennings, one of the researchers. The man is then shot and killed by Garry, the station commander.

Not knowing what to make of the incident, the station crew adopts the dog, placing it in the hands of Clark, the sled-dog handler. Unable to contact the outside world via radio, helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady and Dr. Copper risk a flight to the Norwegian camp for answers, but find the entire compound in charred ruins. MacReady and Copper enter the charred building to find an axe stuck in the door, the Norwegian personnel missing, and the body of a man (named Colin in the prequel) who appears to have committed suicide in the radio room. While Cooper collects videotapes and documents for evidence, MacReady searches the rest of the camp and discovers a large block of excised ice with a hollowed cavity in a room with a large hole in the roof. Outside the camp, the two also discover the burned remains of a mangled humanoid corpse with two faces. They bring the twisted body back to the camp, but an autopsy by Dr. Blair is inconclusive aside from the fact that the creature’s body contains a set of normal internal organs.

At a request by Bennings, Clark kennels the stray with the rest of the station’s sled dogs. Once alone, it transforms into a chaotic biomass that violently assaults the dogs with acidic fluids and whip-like tentacles. Alerted by the noise, MacReady and Clark summon the crew to the kennel with weapons, and Childs burns the creature with a flamethrower. A subsequent autopsy by Blair reveals that the stray dog was a mimetic extraterrestrial life form that assimilates and imitates other life forms on a cellular level. Realizing the implications of this, Blair quickly becomes withdrawn and suspicious of the others. Using the Norwegian research materials, MacReady, Norris and Palmer inspect a field site to discover a massive crater formed by an alien spacecraft. Norris and MacReady inspect the craft, which Norris estimates to be at least 100,000 years old, due to the age of the surrounding ice. Palmer, who remains at a distance, discovers the area from which the Norwegians had cut the large block of ice.

The burned corpse from the Norwegian camp is revealed to be still alive when Windows finds the carcass assimilating Bennings and alerts MacReady. The team corners the Bennings-Thing in mid-transformation and burn it with fuel, along with the corpse from the Norwegian camp. Blair, meanwhile, has calculated that the creature will assimilate the entire planet within three years should it ever reach civilization, and suffers a psychotic episode, destroying the helicopter and radio with an axe and killing the remaining sled dogs. The team manages to corner and overpower him, and locks him outside in the tool shed.

To determine which members of the team are infected, Copper recommends a blood serum test, but finds that the medical blood supply has been destroyed by sabotage. Suspicious, MacReady puts Garry, Copper, and Clark into isolation, and orders Fuchs to continue Blair’s work. An approaching snowstorm forces them inside tight quarters and MacReady makes a tape recording of the events in case he or the crew do not survive.

As a blizzard approaches, Fuchs goes missing shortly after a power failure. His burned remains are found outside, with his death suspected to be self-immolation. Station chef Nauls returns to the others after finding MacReady’s torn clothing in his shack’s oil furnace. During a heated debate about MacReady’s fate, MacReady breaks in and commandeers dynamite, forcing the others into a standoff that causes Norris to suffer a heart attack.

When Copper attempts to revive Norris by defibrillation, Norris is revealed to be the Thing when his torso transforms into a giant sharp jaws and bites off Copper’s arms, who quickly bleeds to death. MacReady quickly torches Norris’s body, but the creature’s head detaches itself from its torso, grows spider-like legs, and tries to crawl away. Fortunately, MacReady kills the creature and orders everyone to be tied up for a new improvised blood test. Clark tries to stab MacReady, but is shot and killed.

By observing the Norris-Thing, MacReady explains his theory that every individual piece of the alien is a distinct unit with its own survival instinct and a sample of the alien’s blood will react defensively and try to move away when touched with a heated metal wire. Drawing samples from each member, the test reveals that MacReady, Nauls, Childs, Garry, Windows, and the deceased Copper and Clark are human. But Palmer is revealed to be the Thing and transforms and kills Windows before MacReady burns it; MacReady then burns Windows’ body as it also begins to transform.

Leaving Childs behind for security, the others head to the tool shed in order to force Blair to take the blood test, only to find that he has escaped by tunneling underground. They find that Blair has been infected and has been scavenging parts of the helicopter and radio equipment to build a small spacecraft in a cavern beneath the tool shed. Childs is then seen inexplicably leaving his post just before the entire camp loses power.

MacReady concludes that the alien intends to freeze itself in the storm and await the arrival of the rescue team in the spring. Resigned to the probability that they will not escape alive, the team begins to dynamite the entire complex, hoping to force the Thing out in the open.

While rigging the generator room to explode, Garry is killed by the Blair-Thing. Nauls then disappears after he hears a noise and goes to check it out. As MacReady finishes setting the explosives, Blair transforms into a larger monster, demolishing the generator room and taking the detonator. Before being attacked, MacReady blows up both the Blair-Monster and the base with a stick of dynamite.

MacReady wanders the burning ruins to face his fate with a bottle of scotch and encounters Childs, who claims to have been lost in the storm after pursuing Blair, but MacReady is unconvinced. With the harsh weather closing in around them and without the energy to test which of them is really human, they acknowledge the futility of their situation. They sit sharing the bottle between them, as the camp burns. MacReady says, as the movie’s final line: “Why don’t we just… wait here for a little while… see what happens…”.

REVIEW:

Not too long ago, a remake or prequel, not sure which, was released. I’m not exactly in a rush to see it, but I’m sure that at some point I will decide to give it a shot, so I figured why not check out the film that started it all. There is also the fact that Netflix only has it available on instant streaming until January 1. 

Please note, that while this is the film that almost everyone refers to when talking about the The Thing, it is actually a remake of a 1951 film, The Thing From Another World, but is apparently closer to the source material.

We have hear yet another example of why 80s movies tend to be so popular. I say this because of the way this film is paced and how the story develops. Had this been released today, there probably would have been some long expositional backstory and needless drama that lasts 3/4 of the film, whereas in this film, we get the basics and then move on to the good stuff. Thank goodness!

Now, the plot and story could do with a little more development, in my personal opinion, but I think the mystery of the Thing is what makes this film so creepy. Think about it this way, how scared are you of the lies of Freddy Krueger, Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead, Leatherface, and even Chucky now that we’ve gotten like a gazillion films from all of them, as compared to the way you felt when you saw them at first. That is why it is good that we don’t know too much about the Thing, even though I’m sure there are those out there that feel we need to know everything about the creature, including what color its feces are!

The special effects in this flick are pretty good, especially for 1982. They don’t look hokey or cheesy, but at the same time, they don’t look as if the special effects artists were trying too hard to make them look “real”.

The acting is what you would expect from a film like this, nothing special, but you have to sit back and be impressed with how the cast captures the near madness of these men as the yare cooped up in Antarctica and then suddenly have to deal with this creature that is killing them off and replicating. Oh, and yes, this is an all male cast. There is nary a female in sight, although T.K. Carter’s character has some mannerisms that lead one to assume he may be playing for the other team, if you will.

Regarded as a cult classic, The Thing is much deserving of all its good press and whatnot. Is it worth the hype? I would say so. There is much to like about this film, and I’m sure there are also thing that many of you will not like so much, but isn’t that what makes us all unique? I didn’t necessarily love this flick, but I did enjoy it, and I recommend you give it a shot.

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

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