THE THING

PROS:  Creepy as hell.  Wilfred Brimley never once mentions his crippling diabeetus.  Kurt Russel’s beard.

CONS:  The cast has a few weak links.  The special effects are dated.

THINGS I LIKED:  The weak links all get killed.  Even though the effects are dated they’re still awesome.   During the blood test scene, unless you are dead inside you will pee a little.

NITPICKS:  I don’t think an alien could really make a UFO out of Caterpillar treads and old chopper parts no matter how resourceful it was.  Seriously, MacGyver couldn’t pull that shit off and he’s from here.

The Thing was done back in the ’50s but (while it wasn’t bad) the two movies aren’t really anything alike…I don’t know if you could really call this a remake.  It’s based on the novella ‘Who Goes There?” by John Campbell Jr.

Out in some Antarctic base of some kind (I don’t think what they actually do there is ever spelled out), a bunch of guys go about their daily lives drinking and smoking about as much pot as one would expect you’d have to in order to stay sane in the never-ending snow and darkness.  One day, a helicopter fill of crazy Norwegians flies over the base shooting at a fleeing dog.  The dog seeks asylum in the American camp, and when the Norwegians land, they seem extremely agitated.  So agitated that gunfire is exchanged and they are killed.

Needless to say this turns out to be the worst day in the history of these guy’s lives (the Americans, not the Norwegians…they actually end up sort of being the lucky ones)  – when they visit the Norwegian’s camp, they find it in ruins, and what’s left paints a seriously freaky story.  Some have killed themselves, others are missing altogether.  In their places are deformed, twisted bodies that have been placed into pits and burned.  Turns out the Norwegians stumbled on a UFO, stuck deep in the ice.  They opened her up and found ‘The Thing’, some kind of cooperative single-cell swarm that is capable to infecting any cell any of them touch.  In essence, any cell a Thing cell touches itself becomes a Thing cell capable of infecting other cells, and so on.  So if you come into contact with even just a single cell, you get Thingimified.

This is a huge problem.  These guys are kind of cooped up together, and to make matters worse once a host becomes a Thing, they seem to have all the same memories and mannerisms of the original.  No one knows who has been infected and who hasn’t.  There’s also the matter of what happens if one of the Things manages to get back to the mainland.  Consensus is that this would be very bad.

What unfolds is a great sci-fi-horror movie where these guys (not really equipped on any level to deal with this) try and stay alive long enough to figure out who is who.  No one can be trusted, and when cornered the Thing has a tendency to explode into what I presume is any and every other form it ever encountered in its life cycle which might come in handy.  This usually means loads of teeth, tentacles, spider legs, and buckets upon buckets of infectious blood and bile.

I read somewhere that the movie didn’t do well when it first came out which I don’t get…it’s at least as good as Alien, and most everyone I know loves it.  Not for the squeamish, though…

BOTTOM LINE:  If you are too young to have been around for this movie, check it out before Hollywood squirts out some substandard remake.  Just be careful – there’s a version floating around out there somewhere that has some asshole narrator spelling everything out for you because someone thought you were too stupid to get figure it out on your own, which you aren’t.  You want to avoid that version like the plague.

*EDIT*  Hollywood has, it seems, gone ahead and squirted out some substandard remake.  I’ll review that once I’ve watched it because, yes, I still want to see it.  Don’t judge me.

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