The basic story deals with an Antarctic research
team's attempt to cope with an alien invasion. Since the alien
can make itself resemble anything, and anyone, paranoia reigns
"The Thing" has been unfairly put down, in some circles,
for its gooey, gross special effects, favoring the 1951 version
instead. While the 1951 version creates much suspense, when
you finally do get to see the alien clearly, late in the movie,
James Arness' Frankenstein monster-type alien is disappointing.
In addition, the original story BOTH films are based on, "Who
Goes There?", by Sci-Fi legend John W. Campbell Jr., had
a gooey, repulsive, shape shifter in it, but the monster was
cleaned up for the 50s.
Kurt Russell is well cast as a long haired, bearded, hard drinking
helicopter pilot. In some ways its Snake Pliskin ("Escape
from New York" and "Escape from LA"), with two
good eyes and a less raspy voice, and that's part of the fun.
The "gooey" special effects are by FX wizard Roy Arbogast
and makeup wizard Rob Bottin. While some might feature the alien
transformation and attack scenes as gross, might not a true
alien seem repulsive to us, and isn't this perhaps the choice.
My favorite scene takers place early on. We see a helicopter
flying low over the snowy terrain. A snow wolf runs ahead of
it, with someone on the helicopter shooting at the dog. It's
a strange, mood setting sequence, letting us know were in for
a strange adventure ahead. The atmospheric photography was by
There is something fascinating by taking a group of people,
then cutting them off from society, on an island, or a spaceship,
or at an arctic research station. A mini-society comes into
being, with everyone being tested by the extreme conditions.
And if there's an alien among you, who might be your buddy,
or boss, or even you, you're in for one entertainingly titchy,
If you enjoyed THE THING (1982), you may like STARGATE, ALIENS, PREDATOR, ESCAPE
FROM NEW YORK, and the original 1950's Black & White classic... THE THING.