David Foster, Lawrence Turman, Wilbur Stark (executive) for Turman-Foster Company, Universal
directed by John Carpenter
starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis, Thomas G. Waites, Norbert Weisser, Larry Franco, Nate Irwin, William Zeman, Adrienne Barbeau (voice)
screenplay by Bill Lancaster, based on the story Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell jr, special makeup effects by Rob Bottin
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The almost boring calm at an US research station in Antarctica is
disturbed when a man (Norbert Weisser) from the neighbouring Norwegian
station comes charging onto the grounds chasing after a dog with the
express intention to shoot it, and when members of the US crew step in out
of curiosity more than anything else, he shoots at them to and has to be
killed in self defense. The team's pilot MacReady (Kurt Russell) and its
doctor Copper (Richard Dysart) then fly over to the Norwegian station to
find out what drove one of theirs quite that mad - but only find death and
Back at the American station, the dog the Norwegian had been chasing
has turned into some tentacled thing that attacks and kills the other dogs
and later also the station's crew, but can be destroyed via flamethrower.
One of the scientists of the station, Blair (Wilford Brimley), then does
an autopsy on the remains and find out the "thing" (in lack of a
better name) that attacked them was an alien organism that attacks and
dissolves other lifeforms to then take on their shape and form to
perfectly pose as whatever was for dinner. And the thing has a high
reproduction rate, so it could take over the earth in a few years if let
loose on humankind. Blair pretty much loses his mind over this and goes
completely bonkers, killing all sleigh dogs, and sabotaging all vehicles
and helicopters beyond repair - so there's no way to get off the station.
He's restrained though and locked up in a shack, but the problems only
start there, as the others soon find out some of the thing (or maybe
another thing) has survived and it's probably one of them. What makes this
even more distressing is that an arctic hurricane is about to hit, forcing
all men on the station into the main building, all suspecting one another,
and the thing pretty much lying in the waiting, its attacks coming mostly
unawares. Sure, it's eventually found out the thing can be killed by fire,
but that knowledge is only minor consolation with the situation becoming
more and more desparate ...
Back in the day, The Thing was mainly criticized as an Alien
rip-off - and despite it being based on a story predating that movie by
decades and its earlier adaptation The
Thing from Another World, one can't but notice similarities, and The
Thing might not even have been greenlit without the success of Alien
- but the term rip-off denies the film it's own genuine qualities, as it's
basically a movie without heroes, just a bunch of paranoid and
claustrophobic guys trying to get it together, and director John Carpenter
does a great job bringing their despair across while neither forgetting to
create tension, atmosphere and suspense in all the right places and
treating the audience to some gruesome bits whenever the time is right.
And Carptenter's uncompromising B-movie style really fits this movie well.
While panned upon release, this has since become a genre classic - and