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on 14 June 2009
This movie is a waste of time, don't border watching. It is too slow in 2009's standard and the picture quality is poor.
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on 10 December 2012
I didn't buy this, I just want to comment on it after watching (most of) it on TV.
The film starts with a Norwegian helicopter chasing a "dog" across Antarctic snow. The passenger is leaning out and shooting at it.
A helicopter can hover and even fly slowly backward if it wants to keep a target in sight and close range but this pilot is unaware of that! His zooming around means the shooter misses the "dog", as he must, otherwise there'd be no stupid story.
In Antarctica why would a Norwegian research station have a rifle on its inventory? Why would a US station have an armoury that includes several rifles and a flame-thrower? To defend against an army of man-eating penguins?
Antarctica is huge. Research stations are at least hundreds of miles apart, yet the US station is within dog-running distance of the Norwegian station, otherwise there'd be no stupid story. Not only that, the "dog" ran in the right direction, with pin-point accuracy!
On reaching the Americans the "dog" rushes to befriend the nearest one. The helicopter lands. The shooter gets out but shouts nothing, even though he should be able to speak English, the international language of scientists.
Still shooting he misses the "dog" and injures an American. The "dog" runs again, the shooter shoots and misses again, passing the window of an American who, exercising his constitutional right to bear arms even in Antarctica, just happens to have a handgun handy.
So on shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later impulse he shoots the Norwegian shooter. Dead. Seconds later in a contrived incident the helicopter blows up and burns with the pilot still in it. Thus neither Norwegian lives to explain why they were shooting at the "dog". Convenient, huh?
Nobody criticises the handgun jerk, maybe because it's a stock Hollywood myth that most big problems can be solved by firing a gun.
Nobody wonders why the "dog" was targeted. They just assume the `Swedes' were crazy to gun for the cute doggy which they allow to wander freely.
Later ............
A computer has been asked a difficult question. Given how primitive PCs were then (the early 80s) it's doubtful that the questioner had suitable software or enough time or ability to program it, but even if he had, he should have been made to wait weeks for an answer, given that the PC is so slow that it only delivers its answer on-screen at slow typing speed.
And ..........
An alien-infected man has stopped breathing. Someone is trying to resuscitate him by pushing on his chest. The chest opens and the would-be saviour's arms push down into what looks like a shark's jaws which instantly bite off his arms below the elbows. Huh? The alien can replicate foreign DNA but there was no shark around for it to copy from. Nor was there room in the chest for the musculature to enable such a powerful bite.
So that cheap shock horror was ridiculous, rather like the scene in the first of the Alien comedies where the infant alien rapidly bursts out of apparently normal John Hurt's chest. IMPOSSIBLE!! Just as it was impossible for that infant to grow many times bigger without eating anything ........
The Thing had me nodding off. In another scene blood is being tested via a hot wire. The alien blood runs away from the wire, a credible idea, but did that blood also screech(!!) in pain or did I dream that nonsense?
For success (i.e. persuading people with more money than sense to cough up) most films rely on the gullibility and ignorance of audiences.
I guess it's just my bad luck that I'm not gullible enough or ignorant enough to be excited by rubbish like The Thing.
Even intelligent viewers may prefer to suspend disbelief in an effort to enjoy a film. How dishonest of them. I'm proud to say I have often been called a spoilsport by co-viewers for my critical comments during and after watching films.
I look forward to receiving many angry comments on this review!
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on 9 January 2012
WOW.Believe it or not i had never seen The Thing until tonight.What an awesome movie.Bleak,gooey,paranoid...fantastic.Something that is truly shocking apart from not having seen it till now is the original critical savaging it recieved on it's original release.Everyone from the New York Times to Roger Egbert mauling the movie.Obviously these critics have revised their kneejerk opinions now but lordy lord...cast iron proof of the inherent idiocy,snobby,irrelevant agendas of critics.
I have even read a quote by John Carpenter saying how the failure of the movie hit him hard,even the director of the 50's Thing was dissing him along with supposed "sci fi" fans.Shocking.This is a perfect piece of genre movie making,also as with the best horror or sci fi movies you can apply metaphor to The Thing whether this be about disease or lack of trust between humans.
One can only assume that in 1982 there was only room for one alien,this being E.T.Sometimes films no matter how good just don't hit the jackpot.It could something as moronic as a title..."what's this thing The Thing?"
Maybe a film sent in the artic with a bunch of beardy men living in close quarters doesn't have that summertime box office appeal.Or as an audience we are totally redundant,ignorant.
Get this The Thing opened at the same time as Blade Runner.....gore blimey talk about double dribble!These two movies ON RELEASE we're treated awfully.Bloomin Spielberg hey!
The special effects in The Thing are truly special,i did wrench a couple of times.Amazing stuff.The work that went into this movie shows,definetly a labour of love.The Thing is awesome and easily settles its slimey bottom in my top five movies of all time.That John Carpenter for even a NANO SECOND thought this was any type of failure is a travesty.As the film has since flourished in the home market and gained considerable status Carpenter hopefully feels what he should always have felt HE WAS RIGHT.Yeah Carpenter made a few stinkies but....HALLOWEEN,ASSAULT ON...,THE FOG,ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK,BIG TROUBLE...GENIUS.Sod Coppola give me Carpenter any day.Guy is a god.
All in all i think you can gather i rather liked The Thing.I am going to say this for the very first time as i can
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on 8 February 2003
Even the biggest fan of John Carpenter would have to admit that The Thing is not one of his best. From the very first few minutes (where the characters behave as if someone opening fire on them is an everyday occurence), the replacement of dialogue with slow, meaningful looks is a consistent theme. The lacklustre special effects, the phoney computer programme, the unconvincing scientific jargon, the scratch-built spaceship... so many things in this film will make you cringe. Lets put it this way... if you like Buffy, you will like this. If you have any real taste in films, avoid.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 December 2011
In the late 1930's writer John W. Campbell brought us Who Goes There a novella about an antarctic research station that finds and is then menaced by a shape shifting alien that has been entombed under the ice for a very long time.

This story was the basis for 1950's film The Thing From Another World (1951) [DVD]. Which takes the idea of an antarctic research station and an alien frozen in the ice and turns it into a monster movie about a man in an alien suit being bombarded to death with cold war propaganda [don't say I didn't warn you....]

In the 1980's it was time for a new version. And for this one, John Carpenter went back to the source material. Whilst the alien here is anything but a man in a monster suit, neither version bears much resemblance to the original story beyond the basic idea. Although the alien in this version can shape shift.

In fact it can do more than that. It absorbs living beings and takes on their form and their characteristics. So one element from the novella does get in here. Paranoia. Not about reds under the bed as in the 50's version. But paranoia amongst the characters as they can't be sure whether or not their colleagues are still human or are something else.

The movie starts with a memorable lot of images and a set piece as we see stunning polar vistas, and then a helicopter crew that are chasing and trying to stop a dog. [This may not be the best movie for animal lovers]. The crew of an american research station are caught up in the middle of this. Unable to find out what the Norwegians were up to, they head back to the latter's base. And find it destroyed. And a very strange body outside.

But unsuspected danger lurks back at the American station. Can the people there survive? Can they stop the alien from getting out into the rest of the world? And can they find who is still human?

This being a product of the 1980's means the base has technology and computer equipment of the time. It's all charmongly dated. And there's no cgi for the alien effects. All good old fashioned visual effects instead, superbly brought to life by master monster maker Rob Bottin.

There being twelve characters does mean they're a lot to take in on first viewing and some do make more of an impression than others. Most notably Kurt Russell as pragmatic helicopter pilot Macready.

Once you're past all the set up the movie does really get going in the second half with all the attendant paranoia. And some very memorable set pieces result. The confined setting really does add to the tension.

A classic piece of science fiction/monster movie making and of it's time, this still holds up very well today. The dvd picture quality is pretty good as well.

To find what did happen at the Norwegian station, see the recently released prequel to this. The Thing (2011) [DVD]

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, German.

Subtitles: English, Finnish, French, Danish, Dutch, Czech, Portugese, German, Swedish, Norwegian.


A commentary from Director John Carpenter and Kurt Russell.

An eighty minute long making of doumentary. Long but very detailed with lots of good interviewees, this is well worth a watch. Although it does play music from the film at the same time, in a way that makes it sound as if it's in the background and this does get very distracting.

Three minutes worth of outtakes. Although billed as outtakes these aren't bloopers more trimmed moments from scenes.

The original cinema trailer for the movie.

Production notes/cast notes/post production galleries. There are several features like this which detail the making of the movie. All are text based and include reprints of storyboards and photos and the like. And all are pretty good.
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on 9 February 2007
I had never heard of this movie up until a few months ago, where i saw many many great reviews written on it. Soon after i bought it as it seemed like a good film however,this just isn't my type of movie and i would probably say the same thing to a lot of people too. It's a film you would either hate or, vise verser love it! With me i just hated what i saw so i turned it off. If you like a slow moving story with aliens you will probably really enjoy this, though if you get bored of just hearing talking and some disgusting creatures inbetween, you would most likely not like this film! I never saw alien but im unsure about seeing that aswell as alien movies just dont get me into them somehow. I highly reccomend you hire this before buying it.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 January 2015
Quality moviemaking rule: Only produce a remake of a movie if it has/can do something the original can't/didn't. It may be special effects, an amazing actor, or fidelity to source material.

One of the best examples of that is "The Thing," one of the few remakes that easily outstrips the original -- not because the original was bad, but because the remake is just better, bringing new depth and intelligence to a relatively simple story. It's a the borderline between horror and science fiction -- a dark, icy masterpiece of claustrophobic paranoia and flesh-melting nightmare fuel, where anyone might be a malevolent alien who could bring an end to all life on earth.

In Antarctica, a Norwegian helicopter chases a dog to the edge of an American base, and the panicked pilot accidentally destroys his own chopper before being killed by the station commander. Pilot MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Doctor Copper (Richard Dysart) are sent to the Norwegian base to find out what is going on, only to find that the Norwegian base has been burned. Even more bizarre, there is a corpse with two faces outside it -- and when the Americans dig deeper, they find a buried UFO that has been there for hundreds of thousands of years..

But something far worse is waiting for them. When the dog is put in the kennel, it absorbs all the other dogs, becoming a monstrous mass of flesh and teeth. This alien creature can infect any living thing and "become" it, with all its knowledge and skills, and can only be killed by incineration.

Since the Dog-Thing has been wandering freely through the base, anyone might be infected -- and if they don't figure out who is infected, it could spread outside of the frozen wasteland. Once it's reached the rest of the world, there will be no stopping it. MacReady is able to deduce that not everyone has been infected, and paranoia reigns as the men try to figure out which among them is infected -- but even if they find a test, they may not be able to stop The Thing.

The original "The Thing From Another World" was actually a very well-written, progressive movie in its time, but it wasn't able to be faithful to the original John W. Campbell novella because... well, it had 1950s special effects. That makes all the difference in "The Thing," allowing the alien creature to be an amorphous, insidious threat rather than a man-shaped carrot who just charges around bashing down doors. It inspires not only basic fear, but paranoiac terror.

And that sense of claustrophobic, shadowy terror is what truly defines this story -- arguments, accusations, hysterical shouting as the men point fingers at all the wrong people. This carries a lot of the story's terror, because like many classic movie monsters, the titular Thing actually doesn't appear that often. Only when cornered or attacked will it unleash tentacles, green ooze and giant torso mouths that will rip a person's arms off. And when it does do that, it's pure nightmare fuel -- think a bloated severed head oozing off its body, sprouting spider legs and scuttling across the floor.

But what really sets "The Thing" apart from most such horror movies is that... well, the characters don't do stupid things to advance the plot. Despite their all-consuming fear, the men spend most of the movie being pretty intelligent about their situation -- for instance, one of the men suggests to MacReady that each person should prepare his own food, and only from cans. There are a few scenes where they do dim things (tying up all the men for the hot wire test, which leads to them being attacked by a melty-faced Thing), but it is plausible when you consider how terrified they are.

And of course, the gnawing horror is even greater when you consider what the stakes are. Failure means the destruction of all life on earth, and even success might just put the Thing into a sort of torpor.

It also has a very strong cast, led by Kurt Russell (and his mountain man beard). Russell plays MacReady as a steady-eyed, intelligent man who gradually is worn to a frazzle by the threat of the Thing and the men around him. And there are solid supporting roles for Dysart, Keith David as the peppery-tempered Childs, Donald Moffat and Wilford Brimley... although sometimes it's hard to tell the men apart in their massive coats.

There's a reason that "The Thing" is a modern classic -- the haunting sense of crushing paranoia, the grotesque alien, and the ambiguity of what may have happened down at the South Pole. Terror, slime and fear.
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on 23 March 2013
John Carpenter's name seems to have slipped off the radar recently, but I suppose it doesn't really matter. When you specialise in the horror movie genre, and go on to create the greatest of them all, there's not much needs adding to your legacy.

Offering a more authentic interpretation of the short story "Who Goes There" by J W Campbell Jr, than the competent but discursive 1950's first attempt "The Thing From Another World", Carpenter brought to the screen an extremely bleak & wonderful experience. In short; a hostile alien life-form has fallen to Earth over 100,000 years ago and been discovered in the antarctic ice by a research team. Despite the passage of time, it's cells are still viable, & thawed-out, begins clandestinely assimilating the team members by turn. The trouble is; it produces identical copies. So who's who?

Carpenter assembled a team of B-movie faces to perfectly interpret his quirky mix of characters, from the laissez-faire, to the thoughtful, the arrogant, and the confrontational. Everyone's a wholly believable cameo. But he didn't stop there. Carpenter is a can-do guy, who has frequently written the creepy-cord music to his own movies, but here he recruited professional composer Ennio Morricone, and that too was a master-stroke. However; the unwholesome icing on the cake came courtesy of Rob Bottin, whose study of the creature in various stages of incomplete metamorphosis are so halucinogenically monstrous as to leave you staring open-mouthed even today. Let's be clear about this; there's no CGI. This movie predated its introduction; these are genuine special effects. And I mean special. Then, there are the sets. Mr C's recreation of the confined facilities of a partly destroyed research station in which there appears to have been bedlam is seemless. Equipment lies littered & smashed, snow has penetrated and accumulated just as you'd imagine. The contrast of residual order disgorged into chaos is frankly perfect. And so it goes on; editing, lighting, script and sound effects - all right on the money. Each character is one with believable foibles. They are sympathetic and I, for one, am moved to care about them. As I should be. It's hellishly cold. And it so was on set. The wind is a ghostly ever-moaning backdrop.

As the story unfolds, horror, terror, claustrophobia and paranoia ratchet-up relentlessly. In a Radical gamble; Carpenter employed an all-male cast, so there's no tiresome romantic bi-line to destract us. we focus down on the team's dilemma and we become part of it. Three particular scenes stick in my mind. In one; a pilot & doctor fly to the Norwegian base. We see their helicopter in long shot, tiny & vulnerable against the seemingly infinite ice feilds. In the distance there are thin, trails of blackened smoke rising. Ennio Morricone's incidental music does not so much entone a sense of terror; it's heavily weighted in strings and conveys more a sense of dispair and tragedy, which perfectly suits the theme. Because this organism does represent absolute tragedy. All life on Earth would be subsumed to its repugnant alien greed: Over 3 billion years of evolution & variety laid waste. Then; at the wrecked base, they find something lying in the snow. It's partly burned, but frozen. They return it to their medical centre and pull back the wrap. "We found this..." the doctor baldly announces. The team are gathered closely round. `This' is barely glimpsed. We observe things not from adult level, but waist-height, more from the standpoint of a child peering between grown-ups, which rather raises our sense of vulnerability. The group stare in uncomprehending shock & disgust. There is coughing. Men glance furtively at each other. Vapour rises up, and melting water drips in a glutinous, syrupy way from thawing extremities that are unrecognisable. I love revelations in movies, and this is a blinder. On another occasion, one of the team has been exposed in half-assimilated condition out on the ice. He's still a man in most respects but his hands look more like gnarled tree branches. The survivors observe him by flares as he kneels, staring up at them. In his look is neither comprehension nor recognition; already it's an exchange between two life forces, regarding each other from across the gulf of their separate geneses. The thing howls an unworldy howl, in which there is no familiar tone or emotion. Then it burns.

I've sunk more 6-packs, more bottles of Shiraz and more gins & tonics - according to companions' tastes - than I would ever dare confess to my doctor, in discussions as abstruse as the evolution of alien life, to the remanence of personal identity, that were begun in pubs, then continued elsewhere until dawn began to hint at the horizon. And when a movie can provoke so much thought amongst its viewers; that movie has surely served its purpose.

I'm sorry I've been so long-winded, but true THING fans will hopefully forgive. This movie is an absolute classic by any definition.

Mr Carpenter? We are not worthy.
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on 23 June 2007
This 25 year old film in my opinion, blows ANY modern sci-fi/horror film right out of the water.

The special effects first; Mind-boggling even by todays standards, are NOT over used. They are used to tell the story, & never show the story up. Nor are they just a showcase for the incredible ROB BOTTIN'S work, just so he can progress his own career. His life's love went into this film! These creations are real?? tangible, physical objects that occupy a real space on set that the actors can react to and act with! NOT some ping-pong ball on a stick, with the beastie STUCK on months later in a computer suite.

The acting here is rock solid too, with characters you actually give a damn about. Even though there are no women in this movie (A bold and refreshing change) this film is well balanced. Unlike say; CLIFFHANGER with Stallone (A film I love by-the-way). Which is SO unbalanced with ALL the male characters given alpha male roles, no contrast! But in THE THING, the writing is superb as each person having a legitimate place in the movie, & not just a punchbag for the lead actor.

THE THING is also a superb mystery/thriller, with the monster hiding inside other people, you feel like YOU can't trust anybody. Together with JOHN CARPENTER'S masterful direction puts you the viewer, right into the movie. HITCHCOCK did this superbly, making you actually feel uncomfortable. I think CARPENTER nods towards HITCHCOCK more than once here!

The extras on the disc are 1st rate too.
Retrospective interviews with Carpenter, Russel and the totally exuberant Rob Bottin, physical effects man extraordinaire! (He did the monsters)
A rare treat also, an interview with Albert Whitlock visual effects master. Who has worked on films for 50 years with much of his work being invisible, because we had no idea we were looking at a special effects shot and not the real location!!!

Which all goes to make up the most intelligent, solid sci-fi/ horror/thrillers out there.
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on 17 January 2015
"I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter-----TIED TO THIS ****ING COUCH!". That fantastic line by Garry (the ever-dependable Donald Moffat) always makes me chuckle, since, not liking continuous swearing, I LOVE it when it's entirely appropriate to the situation; reserved for special occasions as it should be.
This is a seminal movie. THE monster movie of its period and still pretty well unrivalled-if you'll allow that "Alien" and its sequels are a very different matter.

The story-well, if you don't know it by now, I'm not going to tell you, but it is a standard small isolated group routine, almost a super-gore whodunnit, and while it doesn't follow John W Campbell's original story precisely, it makes great use of a chiller from a more genteel age to make a chiller for our modern age. And this still works. Perhaps the isolation and arctic elements mean that it doesn't look far different to the way it would look if filmed as a contemporary today. Only the computers and boombox would be different, along with no gap between four letter words in the script, no doubt.

The pre-cgi effects remain stunning, gory, graphic, and while obviously effects, they haven't been bettered. The recent prequel's CGI is good, but not better in this respect, and almost suffers by seeming relatively subdued, almost "realistic" if you will.

The cast and characters are all as expected and universally sound. The plot has holes aplenty; while they know individual cells of the critter can form whole entities, they don't take the full precautions you'd hope for after burning them to "death", and the finger-cutting scene looks hardly sterile, and has illogical elements done purely for dramatic effect, no doubt. But these are small things; overall, it's hugely entertaining.

It is hard, when watching, to think this is over thirty years old. Few such movies stand the test of time this well, especially ones where the special effects are such a significant part of the whole. I have often wondered about the flamethrowers being there. I admit in arctic temperatures there may be need to thaw stuff, but this is a heavy handed, inefficient and probably not too effective tool for that, as well as uncontrollable. However, having read a few other thoughts, I concluded- "it's a horror movie, why NOT flamethrowers?"

As to a score, well, it's either four or five stars, and while it isn't perfect, and it might not seem to deserve five stars, it is a seminal work of its type, stands the test of time very well and, yes, five stars it is, though I'd probably prefer it to be 4 ½.
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