I just bought me the bluray from this movie and watch it right now. The disc also contains a wonderful documentary about the making of the movie. It listed all the great things i love about this little scifi gem.
The story is basically about a research team in antarctica that stumbles about this alien lifeform that is able to change its form and shape. Of course a lot of psychological things start to go on and all the isolation from the rest of mankind is giving it all even more fire. Now these guys have to deal with the dangers of having a monster that can change its shape into anybody.
The whole mood, design and presentation of the movie is really amazing. When i see it i still have the same feeling i had when i saw it the very first time. It’s one of these old time scifi movies where there was only the practical fx approach. There were no computers at the time… and it looks amazing! Even today it can hold up. Not on every level of course… but mostly. The matte work of an vfx pioneer like Albert Whitlock rounds up the visual quality of the movie. The music from Ennio Morricone does the rest. It creates such a dangerous mood. Like it’s permanently saying “you’re not safe! watch your back!”. The crew of actors does a very good job too. At the beginning you see that it’s quite a team that knows how to handle the isolated situation in the everlasting ice. But it all starts to fall apart and you see in their faces how the situation starts to slip out of their hands.
The creature design is truly outstanding and could be seen as some sort of abstract art. Surely worth a look for anyone who’s attempting creature design concept arty stuff. It’ll, guaranteed, instantly spawn ideas! The set design, camera and lighting plays also a constant role in the movie. Certain types of scenes always have the same lighting to suggest the viewer that we are in a dangerous tense situation right now. Other scenes with no direct danger have a complete different setup. On a technical level it’s definitely one of the better Carpenters.
The movie wasn’t a big success when it was released in 1982 but over the years people understood what the movie is. The uprising of VCR at the time really helped movies like Blade Runner, The Quiet Earth and of course The Thing to find the right audience.
This movie is certainly one of Carpenters best works. If not THE best. He’s a master in creating that certain feeling of isolation. And he really nails it here. Somehow the uprising of the digital visual effects seemed to something he wasn’t able to handle too good. His latest works were not too good from my point of view. Though i haven’t seen his 2010 ‘The Ward’ yet. The Thing is definitely a recommendation. No way around it if you’re a scifi fan.