The 9th entry to my film masterclass catalogue is John Carpenters classic ‘The Thing’. Released in 1982, Carpenter had come off hits like ‘Halloween’, ‘Escape from New York’ and ‘The Fog’ and was quickly making a name for himself as a uniquely loved film director. Not only did he have a very niche group of fans, before making ‘The Thing’, he had been successful at the box-office with the above titles. ‘The Thing’ would be his first non-hit as it struggled to make a profit and was received negatively when first released. Again, another film added to my masterclass which had nominations for a Razzie (See entry eight for ‘The Shining’) with Ennio Morricone’s score for ‘The Thing’ nominated for worst score. Looking back now, you would think that the people behind the Razzies are wrong, right?!? Interestingly, one of the main reasons why the film struggled at the box-office was down to E.T. As E.T. was such a huge success, audiences wanted more ‘friendly’ alien action at the cinemas and were turned off by the prospect of an evil alien. ‘The Thing’ is a film that I only recently caught up with again. I had watched it many years ago and couldn’t really remember it, or appreciate. Upon watching it again, it has to be one of the greatest Horror/Thrillers of all-time.
If you don’t know what it’s about, ‘The Thing’ follows a research team, led by Kurt Russell’s character MacReady that is in the Antarctica. After a fast start to the film, a Norwegian based crew, situated miles from this base are chasing a dog in a helicopter. The Norwegian crew are attempting to shoot the dog, for reasons at this time, unknown to the audience and MacReady’s crew. As the Norwegian team meet the Americans, a shootout evolves which leads the Norwegian team dead and the Americans inheriting an unknown dog. Very quickly, the new member of the team proves to be toxic and changes the course of this crew, into terror and the unknown. The unknown dog does turn out to be a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims, just what you need when you’re in the middle of Antarctica! To be honest, I wouldn’t want that anytime…
As you can probably tell, ‘The Thing’ is very strange, quirky and a hell of a lot of fun. The standard that John Carpenter sets when making a movie and I would probably go as far as saying it’s one of my favourites of his work. Even if you haven’t seen the film and you hear about this, I can imagine you’re thinking that this has to be one of the strangest sounding films ever? You’re right, but when watching it, ‘The Thing’ is very grounded and lacks little humour but that doesn’t take away how much fun I have watching this film. All round, the ensemble cast give fantastic performances, especially Kurt Russell. Director, John Carpenter, as ever brilliant with his direction of the camera as he manages to make the film claustrophobic, tense and fast-paced. As the film pans out, Carpenter manages to spread the uncertain state of mind and fear from the characters to the audience. Especially if you’re watching the film for the first time, the fear and uncertainty you have as to who is currently hosting the shape-shifting alien is excruciating! ‘The Thing’ has done a remarkable job to age well. Bearing in mind that the film was released 37 years ago, its feels fresh and is a damn sight better than the remake in 2011 and the original from 1951.
So, there we have it! John Carpenter’s 1982 film ‘The Thing’ enters the masterclass as the 9th entry. Please feel free to comment on the article if you agree or disagree and tell me what you think should be the next entry!
Check out other entries in Crow’s masterclass below!
Ian Crow’s Film Masterclass – The Shining (1980) #8
Ian Crow’s Film Masterclass #7 – American Psycho (2000)
Ian Crow’s Film Masterclass #6 – The Blair Witch Project (1999)