Well, that was… interesting. I’m not really sure what I think of that movie. It was definitely unlike anything I have ever seen before. Well, here we go.
The Thing, released in 1982, tells the story of a group of scientists in Antarctica who are infiltrated by an alien who can mimic any other biological organism. It kills them off one by one, hoping to get out of Antarctica to civilization where it can multiply and conquer. By the end of the movie, only two people are left alive, and we’re unsure if one of them is still human. (More on that later).
The Thing itself is a pretty creepy creature. It mimics any organism perfectly, it’s speech patterns, movements, physical body. It was the perfect chameleon. The first time we see it, it is trying to become a dog and it is creepy looking. The only way to kill it is to burn it, destroying all cells in the process. Luckily the scientists had a few flamethrowers just lying around for that.
Overall, the monster plays on our natural distrust of others. None of the scientists knew who was infected and that led to a lot of the conflict and death. They turn on each other without a good way to test who is who.
I did, however, have issues with the Thing. First, how was it able to have memories of the people it took over. None of that is cellular. It would stand to reason that just by taking over a person’s body would not allow for it to gain all of a person’s memories. But who knows?
I also had issue with the fact that these scientists had flamethrowers in Antarctica. What on earth were they going to do with those? Melt some snow? I can understand dynamite, if they were doing any kind of mining or drilling. But I couldn’t get over the convenience of having flamethrowers on hand and ready to go for this alien attack.
I thought the best part in this movie, as in Alien, was the setting. The isolation and impending freeze certainly added to the creepiness. But that isn’t all that goes into setting for film. The soundtrack is crucial and while I didn’t notice it as much in Alien, I definitely did here. From the beginning there is this suspenseful, creepy music that plays throughout the film. It definitely told you that bad things were going to happen and soon, setting the mood.
The final issue for me was the ending. It was a bit ambiguous. MacReady and Childs are sitting in the snow, watching the entire complex burn to the ground and sharing some whiskey. Kind of a sad ending, as they are going to freeze to death in the snow now. However, we are left wondering if Childs is actually one of the aliens. He was missing from the entire final confrontation scene. He could easily have been taken over. The alien’s plan was to get frozen anyways. This could be the way it was accomplishing that goal. But I guess we will never know.