The Thing (1982) | 31 Nights of Horror Challenge


A US research station, Antarctica, early-winter 1982. The base is suddenly buzzed by a helicopter from the nearby Norwegian research station. They are trying to kill a dog that has escaped from their base. After the destruction of the Norwegian chopper, the members of the US team fly to the Norwegian base, only to discover them all dead or missing. They do find the remains of a strange creature the Norwegians burned. The Americans take it to their base and deduce that it is an alien life form. After a while, it is apparent that the alien can take over and assimilate into other life forms, including humans, and can spread like a virus. This means that anyone at the base could be inhabited by The Thing, and tensions escalate.

For this year’s 31 Nights of Horror Challenge, the Day 2 prompt was Guilt Pleasure. We choose a classic sci-fi horror flick, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). This truly is my guilty pleasure movie. It is full of everything I like including an awesome score, practical special effects, and who doesn’t like Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and the dude from the T.V. show, Hunter?

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Our Thoughts on The Thing

A remake of the classic 1951 “The Thing From Another World.” Twelve men are in a completely isolated station in Antarctica. They are invaded by a thing from outer space–it devours and completely duplicates anything it chooses to. It starts off as a dog but gets loose–and has a chance to duplicate any of the men. Soon, nobody trusts anyone else–they’re isolated–the radio is destroyed–their helicopter likewise. What are they going to do?

The 1951 film had the thing just be a giant, superhuman monster. That movie was scary. This one is, too–but the story is different (and based more closely on the source material–the novelette “Who Goes There?”), and it’s scary in a different way. The movie starts with Ennio Morricone’s incredibly eerie score setting just the right tone, and–when the Thing gets attacked–the amount of gore is astounding. Blood and body parts are flying all over–arms are bitten off, heads detach, and–in the strongest one–one man is devoured face first by the Thing. The gore effects are STRONG and real nightmare material. I don’t scare easily, but I had to sleep with the lights on when I initially saw this in 1982. Rob Bottin’s effects are just incredible–how this picture got by with an R rating is beyond me!

It also has a very creepy feel–gore aside, it is very suspenseful. You’re not sure who is what, and Carpenter’s direction and the score build up the tension. One complaint–no one is given any distinctive personality traits. The actors just remain straight-faced and say their lines. That’s annoying…but the movie still works.

This was a critical and commercial disaster in 1982–it competed with “E.T.,” and MANY critics complained about the amount of gore, and there are no female characters in the movie. It’s now considered one of John Carpenter’s best. A must-see…for strong stomachs. NOT a date film!

An amusing piece of trivia: When this was released, Universal sent a note along with all prints of the film. They suggested to theatre owners that they play the film in an auditorium near the restrooms. They feared that people would be so sickened by the violence that they’d have to be close to a facility to throw up!

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