The Thing ★★★★★

A crew of scientists and assorted oddballs at a US research station in Antarctica confront an alien monster from space introduced into their midst by a cute Husky being chased from above by a couple of crazed Norwegians in a helicopter trying to shoot and kill it. It's such a deceiving setup. That opening segment is what introduces both the monster and the paranoia the monster's going to provoke as the Americans eventually get a handle on why the Hell the Norwegians were chasing the dog across the frigid landscape in the first place. We're talking Apocalypse Trilogy because in "The Thing" that frozen ice mass only seems far away. It's actually much closer to home. I mean look at what global warming's doing melting the ice and raising sea levels which isn't to say the monsters is an analogy for environmental apocalypse, or maybe it is. Anyway, the takeaway I got from John Carpenter's "The Thing" is that this was a great vehicle more for the actors who play kind of anti-authoritarian types forced to come together to battle this horrendous monster that effects man Rob Bottin devised using real or "practical" materials. This "Alien" type creation dwarfs the plant-based monster from Howard Hawks' classic film of 1951. It illustrates the advances horror has made, but also how cinema has grown and evolved. And the characters in Hawks's film were scripted to work like a team, whereas these guys in Carpenter's version reflect the attitudes of a society of a vastly different era. There's not a lot of group cohesion to begin with, some guys smoking pot while Kurt Russell likes his J&B Scotch. Other guy is into Smirnoff. You get some scientific jargon, but mostly after the monster, which infects people or animals, gets established, paranoia, not unlike what "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" revealed, takes over. It's an actors workshop vs a totally killer monster movie of enormous proportions. Are you going to act differently if you're infected and that Thing pops out of your chest cavity than if it weren't there? It's quite good.

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