The Thing came out in 1982, and unfortunately for the film, it came out just weeks after one of the most beloved exterrestrial films of all time, ET. What makes this fact unique to The Thing is that unlike ET, this film portrays aliens in a much different light. Due to this difference, The Thing did not get the warmest reception at the box office, some could say it was about as warm as the artic setting of the film.
The Thing starts in a manner that may upset some viewers as we find a sled dog being shot at from a helicopter. The dog continues to be chased through the snow as those in the copter do all they can to kill the animal. The animal eventually runs close enough to a US outpost that the sounds of the chase draw the attention to those inside and they rush out to see what is happening. After a few tense moments there is an explosion and both those chasing the animal are now dead.
This is where the mystery of the film begins as those within the camp begin to try and piece together just what has happened. The puzzle eventually leads to helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russel) and outpost Dr. Copper (Richard Dystart) to risk a flight to the camp of origin, for the men chasing the dog. They land the copter to find themselves at a burned out Norwegian Outpost, and after a search come across a human corpse, or at least looks human. They grab all that they can, including the corpse, and head back to their outpost. They the odd corpse is given an autopsy by Dr. Brair (Wilford Brimley) and he finds nothing conclusive just that there are some odd internal organs.
Up to this point in the film the dog has been allowed to roam around the outpost and even spends the night in a bunk with one of the crew. It isn’t until the dog gets in the way that Clark (Richard Masur) is ordered to finally kennel the animal with the others. This is where we get somewhat of an introduction to what the men are going to face in their artic isolation. The dog begins to change into something that eventually attacks the other dogs and due to the noise members of the outpost come running and are shocked by what they find. They use a flamethrower to kill the creature, but the question is was this the only one?
As the film progresses we begin to learn more about the creature and what it is capable of doing. The tests that Dr. Brair does even shows us the extent of what would happen if the creature was allowed to leave this artic wasteland and get to higher populations. We get to watch as the men of the outpost begin to distrust each other and more and more layers of fear envelope the team. They begin to turn on each other and at times this may even turn deadly.
The Thing is John Carpenter at his best. The film takes a great cast, puts them in an isolated location giving them a simple option of life or death. You get to watch as those in the film try to determine who the creature maybe. Simple tricks such as fire to blood can help yield the creatures location, but is it something they want to find at that moment. The cast itself is eclectic and the men offer a great balance to the story as each one offers a different character type to the film. The Thing is simply a fun and exciting film to watch. You cannot help but find yourself relating to at least one of the characters. You will find yourself guessing throughout the film, who is next, do they survive, and where is it?
Now, if you are a fan of The Thing and wonder what really happened at the other outpost, well I have good news for you. There is a film called The Thing being released in 2011 which is a prequel to this film. The upcoming film shows us what happened to those first impacted by the creature and how they brought it into camp.