Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bill Lancaster
Based on: John W. Campbell, Jr.‘s novella Who Goes There?
Cast: 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
Seen on: 30.5.2016
[This concludes the John Carpenter special (for me).]
A USAmerican research station in Antarctica find themselves the harbor of a sled dog that ran from another facility, chased down by helicopter. But before the hunters can kill the dog, they crash. Irritated by events, the men decide to investigate the Norwegian camp nearby. What they find there, actually raises more questions – and that’s before the saved dog starts mutating into something else entirely.
The Thing – arguably one of Carpenter’s most revered films – cements what I had been suspecting: Carpenter is wasted on me. I thought The Thing was well done and I loved the special effects, but other than that, it just really didn’t speak to me.
Really the best bit about The Thing are the great creature effects and puppets they used. They don’t look a hundred percent realistic, but they look awesome and pretty scary – even after almost 35 years. It proves that good handiwork never goes out of style – and always made me look forward to the next bit of action to see what else they’d come up with. (The second best thing were the very well-trained dogs.)
But that was pretty much the only bit I was really looking forward to. As much as I loved the idea of that threat, of a being that is able to perfectly copy anybody and never knowing who’s going to be the bad guy, it only worked on an intellectual level for me. I never felt it, never felt threatened or tense or scared. Quite to the contrary, often the film had pretty unbearable lenghts for me.
I think part of that was that I never felt particularly connected to any of the characters, except maybe Clark (Richard Masur) (because he liked dogs). Admittedly, I even had a hard time to tell most of them apart, making it also hard to keep track of how things progressed or to care much if one more of them was gone. Because that was the level of engagement I achieved with the film: I just didn’t care.
I realize that The Thing isn’t a bad film, but it really didn’t reach me. And not just because they didn’t even include one woman in the film, not even as eyecandy, although that did bother me a lot. It was just one more sign that the film wasn’t made with people like me in mind.
Summarizing: Maybe it was made for you.