Scientists at an arctic research station track an object which
deviates in its movements before crashing into the ice. Air
Force personnel are called in to investigate the phenomenon.
Flying between the station and the site in question, the compasses
go haywire and they are forced to navigate by other means.
What they discover is a large saucer-shaped alien craft under
the ice. Attempting to blast it free proves unsuccessful but
does reveal what looks likes a humanoid shape. The biped is
flown back to the research station in a large block of ice.
However, when the ice melts and the creature disappears, the
weather isn't the only problem the personnel have to face.
The Thing seems to be constructed of vegetable matter and
needs the vitamins in blood to sustain itself. When it is
discovered bullets have no affect, more drastic measures are
is a direct connection between this film and my favourite
filmmaker, John Carpenter. Howard Hawks, who was the producer
and uncredited director for this film, was a hero and inspiration
for Carpenter in his early days. Some years back I attended
a John Carpenter Masterclass at the National Film Theatre
during which he demonstrated Hawks' film techniques, and included
which had quite an affect on him as a child in the fifties.
course, you would expect me to prefer Carpenter's 1982 remake
of The Thing, which was much more true to the W. John
Campbell, Jr. short story Who Goes There? - and you'd
be right. But the point here is the impact this original had
in its day.
The press blurb is correct in stating that it helped kick-start
the sci-fi horror boom of the fifties. It's a long way from
the many turkeys which followed in its wake. It doesn't play
on the effects of the cold war, but just gets on with the
today's standards this isn't going to scare anyone, and there
are far too many scenes of group dialogue rather than tension-building.
Where it does succeed is in its sheer style.
black and white films from the past are lent a certain atmosphere
by the sheer lack of colour. The Thing is one of those.
Therefore, I can see no sense in offering the alternative
colourised version on this two-disc set, and can only imagine
the purpose is to remarket the film for a modern day short-sighted
viewing public. If you're tempted by this release, stick to
the beautifully restored print version, also in this set.
At this point I would have scored the release a 7, but the
icing on the cake for me is the optional commentary by none
other than John Carpenter himself. Hooray!