Movie fans and critics alike have sung the praises of this movie since its release in 1982. Here are the reasons I personally love The Thing so much:
- The sheer genius of the monster designs. Director John Carpenter basically let the special effects genius, Rob Bottin, run wild. Botton created the most imaginative monsters I’ve ever seen. The titular “Thing” is actually an alien mutation and appears in several forms–every time, it takes the form of a horrific crime against nature that is both organically “familiar” and utterly grotesque.
- Speaking of special effects, all of the incredible effects that appear in The Thing are man-made; there was no CGI back in the early 80s when the movie came out. (In fact, in the DVD special feature, Botton describes using Jello to create a man’s arms in one scene, so that the arms could be ripped off his body.) The models, puppets, and sculptures prove that there’s no computer substitute for realistic props.
- The story is strong. It has a complex plot line and many characters, but the twists and turns are well-paced and follow through nicely. Without giving away spoilers, I will just say that the main themes are isolation and paranoia. The movie takes place in Antarctica, far away from any human contact. The characters become suspicious of each other after the monster appears. The suspense and metaphoric suffocation builds. The gruesome events that happen here, in the middle of nowhere, could potentially affect the fate of the entire world. Why have we, the viewers, never heard of this strange and terrifying brush with apocalypse? You’ll find out by the film’s end.
- The palette: I love the colors in this film. Visually it’s all about the icy/hot contrast of pale Arctic blue and the pinkish-orange glow of flare guns. These colors can be found in almost every scene, and it is a beautifully unique choice.
If you haven’t seen The Thing, I highly recommend checking it out this Halloween season. Furthermore, this October a prequel to the film will be released. I can’t imagine this remake even being in the same league as the original, but if the filmmakers were inspired by Carpenter’s masterpiece, that’s a good start.