Monday, July 02, 2007

Film Reel: John Carpenter's The Thing, One Of The Best Classic Horror Movies Of The 1980's

 One of the finest horror classics Hollywood has ever produced, legendary to this day. Caution: Spoilers have completed its assimilation with this entry.

Since last month, I've been going on a steady dose of old Hollywood movies made from the 80's all the way to the early 90's and boy, what many precious nostalgic gems have I stumbled upon. Back then, the 1980's was the golden year of Hollywood horror movies. There was John Carpenter's The Thing, a box office failure during the time of its release and in later years enjoyed a wealth of success in its afterlife on VHS and DVD.


The Thing - cadaver
An American Antarctic research station called Outpost 31 was infiltrated by an unidentified alien creature first discovered by Norwegian explorers, which has the ability to perfectly imitate any animal or human it comes into contact with. The crew of the station come to distrust each other as they cannot tell who is human and who is not. One by one they are killed, either by the creature or by each other.

The Thing - cadaver2
They soon realized that if the creature were to reach the outside world, it would devour all life on earth in a few years. With the creature becoming more and more uncontainable, the surviving crew were forced to destroy Outpost 31 in order to kill the Thing, accepting that this act would also kill themselves. Of course, the creature itself would not submit itself to these obstacles without a fight for its own selfish survival.


Unlike other typical alien horror movies, the being which members of Outpost 31 had to fend themselves against is an 'invisible' enemy. Having no physical form or shape, Thing takes over any biological host (animals, humans, no infos on plants) be it dead or alive that it came in contact with, first either killing them or 'possessing' them (debatable) if they're alive and then copying their DNA cells to create an exact replica with memories and social/health traits intact.

The Thing - Dog-Thing
While other movies have fully-armed, motivated military-trained personnel with at least a bit of sense on what sort of dangerous hostility they might encounter in their mission, the population in charge of Outpost 31 consist largely of plain civillians, scientist/researchers and other technical staffs (helicopter pilot, mechanic, etc) with little idea of what they are up against. Armed with only civillian-grade firearms (funny that they barely use the deer rifles and shotguns) and flamethrowers used for clearing away snow and ice, their ability to fight back is hampered not only by their lack of any actual military training, but also from the lack of trust they had on each other.

So what is this "Thing"?
  • Thing functions as an intruder organism. Once it had successfully infiltrated a biological host, it will then went on to assimilate itself with the cell of its host, successfully creating a perfect replica based on it, making an indistinguishable copy complete with all common traits of its host.
  • Once infection has been detected in a certain area, the probability of Thing infecting other lifeforms within that area is 75%.
  • Should Thing reaches civilized areas, entire world population will be infected within 27,000 hours from first contact.

In the game, there are more files found on the first level that explains the Thing in-depth. You gotta play the game to know more.

More links:
Goofs - Outpost 31


The Thing - game screens
In August 19th 2002, a game based on the movie was released by Computer Artworks, in close cooperation with John Carpenter. The game is a third-person survival horror game, picking up right after the events in the movie ended. The player assumes the role of Captain Blake, who is sent to investigate the loss of contact with Outpost 31. The game features a unique fear/trust system, where your actions and your environment affects your squadmate's behaviour. Despite some of the game's dated playing mechanics (going from Point A to B in linear fashion), anyone who wished to expand their knowledge on The Thing's universe or simply a fan of the movie shouldn't miss it. You can find the game in Amazon.

The Thing - game screens 2
As you can see from the screenshots, you not only have to fight against monsters, but also against human opponents ala Half Life, at the same time you need to keep (if available) your NPC's sanity intact, while suspecting the possibility of them becoming Things. The overhead icons on top of the NPC's head displays their current action/thoughts.

Top image via Indiewire.