Thing movie poster

Who on earth (or off it) could have felt the necessity to re-do Howard Hawks's sci-fi classic? Since the answer to that seems to be John Carpenter, the question becomes: hasn't Carpenter paid sufficient tribute to Hawks on other occasions? But perhaps Carpenter wanted to disconnect himself from Hawks by staying truer to John W. Campbell, Jr.'s original story, Who Goes There?, which the Hawks version vastly improved on. The differences from the 1951 film are numerous: blame for thawing The Thing out of the ice has been sloughed off onto Norwegians (this wasn't in the original story either, but something was needed to pad the running time); the humor has been eliminated, notwithstanding some early evocations of the college-dorm atmosphere of Carpenter's Dark Star; and the Invasion of the Body Snatchers dehumanization theme has been restored to prominence. And then there are oodles of state-of-the-art special effects: slimy, gristly, gelatiny sights, accompanied by crackly, gurgly, slurpy sounds — plus plenty of flares, fires, and explosions. With Kurt Russell, Richard Dysart, A. Wilford Brimley. 1982.

Duncan Shepherd

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