Monday, July 17, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #12: "The Thing" (1982)

Movie Stats:
Released 1982 (USA)
American, in English (some non-translated Norwegian)
Director - John Carpenter
Stars - Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, and many others

Plot Summary:
When a U.S. research team at a remote Antarctic outpost has a close encounter with an alien creature, they’re no longer able to tell who’s human and who isn’t. Russell co-stars as helicopter pilot R. J. MacReady; Brimley as Dr. Blair; and David as Childs.

Lots of blue language; extreme violence; extreme gore; drug use (marijuana); non-consensual drug use (morphine).

Bad Stuff:
The special effects for the alien look terrible and cheesy.

I’ve always considered it more horror than sci-fi. It goes the extra mile to be gross & gory in a way that, for me, cheapens whatever else is interesting and effective about the story.

To that end, I don’t agree with the many people who seem to find it scary. I don’t think it’s scary at all.

Good Stuff:
While I don’t find it scary, I do think it’s intense. It makes me uncomfortable in the best kind of way.

I like that the more sensible characters use their problem solving skills. Instead of running around and killing everything that moves, they try to use their logic to save themselves.

It’s got one of the best open endings in cinema.

The Verdict:
I’m not the biggest fan of this film. I don’t care for all the gore and jump scares. However, this go around, I got a better feel for what is actually excellent about it: how suspenseful it is. As a viewer, you spend much of it on-edge, unsure of which characters you can trust. It's fun if you like to feel that way. I’m not convinced that it belongs on this list. While it’s certainly more deserving of a spot than some of the more perplexing entries (“Three Colors: Red,” for example), I can’t say I’ve ever really thought of it as a great sci-fi film. Rather, I consider it one of the more palatable horror films. Still, I’m giving it a lot of credit for being a horror film with some intelligence.

I give it 3.75 stars.

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