The Thing (1982 franchise)

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Promotional poster for The Thing (1982 film)

The 1982 "Thing" franchise consists of two films and a video game, in addition to the original film the 1982 film remakes:

  • The Thing from Another World (1951 film) (not canon to the 1982 franchise)
  • Horror Express (1972 film) (not canon to the 1982 franchise)
  • The Intruder Within (1981 film) (not canon to the 1982 franchise)
  • The Thing (1982 film)
  • The Thing (2002 video game)
  • The Thing (2011 film)
  • ...and some novels and comic book adaptations


Summary

The Ultimate in Alien Terror: The Thing (also known as John Carpenter's The Thing) is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a parasitic extraterrestrial life-form that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them. The Thing infiltrates an Antarctic research station, taking the appearance of the researchers that it absorbs, and paranoia develops within the group. The film is based on John W. Campbell, Jr.'s novella Who Goes There?, which was more loosely adapted as the 1951 film The Thing from Another World and the 1972 film Horror Express, and has been expanded by a 2002 video game, a 2011 sequel, and a Dark Horse Comics series and other comic and novel adaptations.

Details

  • Release Date: 1984-present
  • Country/Language: US (and others), English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Science Fiction
  • Starring: Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Douglas Spencer, Robert O. Cornthwaite (1951 film); Kurt Russell et.al. (1984 film); Mary Elizabeth Winstead et.al. (2011 film)
  • Director: Howard Hawks, Jon Carpenter, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
  • Writer: John W. Campbell (original story)
  • View Trailers: (link), (link), (link), (link), (link)
  • TVTropes: (1951), (1982), (2011)
  • IMDB: (1951), (1980), (2011)


Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: ranges from PG (earlier film) to R (later films)

The 1951 film would be rated the equivalent of PG for mild violence and scary monsters, while the 1984 film was infamous in its day for its gruesome and extremely disturbing special effects, with the 2011 film doing its best to try to push the effects even further over the top; the newer films may also contain some mild profanity.

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; could be a very loose adaptation)

On average, these films work out to about two "Tentacles" for the weird monsters and bleak atmosphere of cosmic horror. All the films in the series at least touch on original cosmic horror; while the stand-alone 1951 film is arguably a bit lighter in tone, the 1982 version is particularly pessimistic (and similar enough to Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness (fiction) to be considered an adaptation of that Lovecraft story by fans who are unfamiliar with John W. Campbell's Who Goes There?)

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Review Links:

  • Matthew Pridham at Weird Fiction Review, (John Carpenter's The Thing) - "[John Carpenter's] The Thing is a masterpiece of paranoia and monstrosity. It manages to combine a slow burn of tension and suspicion with bright flashes of inventive violence.... It flaunts incredible special effects, still impressive (and frightening) after thirty years...."
  • Orin Grey for the Innsmouth Free Press, (The Thing from Another World) - "...Laying aside Carpenter’s version for a moment... I think The Thing from Another World really is a masterpiece in its own right.... Some of the best scenes of the movie involve characters trying to explain to other characters the horror of what they’ve seen, an effect that is very Lovecraftian, indeed."

Synopsis

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

1954 FILM (THE THING): The story concerns a U. S. Air Force crew and scientists who finds a crashed flying saucer and a body frozen nearby in the Arctic ice. Returning to their remote research outpost with the humanoid body in a block of ice, they are forced to defend themselves against this malevolent, plant-like alien when it is accidentally revived.

1982 FILM (THE THING or JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING): An American scientific expedition to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic is interrupted by a group of seemingly mad Norwegians pursuing and shooting a dog. The helicopter pursuing the dog explodes, eventually leaving no explanation for the chase. During the night, the dog mutates and attacks other dogs in the cage and members of the team that investigate. The team soon realizes that an alien life-form with the ability to take over other bodies is on the loose and they don't know who may already have been taken over.

2002 VIDEO GAME (THE THING): Set as a sequel to John Carpenter's 1982 film of the same name, the story focuses on Captain Blake, a member of a U.S. Special Forces team sent to the Antarctic outpost featured in the film to determine what has happened to the research team. One of the main features of The Thing's gameplay is the inclusion of multiple NPCs who join Blake at various points throughout the game. NPC AI is determined primarily by the "Fear/trust system". The trust system determines whether the NPCs will follow Blake's orders and join him in combat. The game also features an infection system, which determines whether or not an NPC is infected by the Thing. Although most NPCs are scripted to transform into a Thing at specific points in the game, they can also be infected at any time prior to this. Although infection does not alter their immediate behavior, it will result in them turning into a walker-Thing after a set period of time, at which point they will attack the team.

2011 PREQUEL (THE THING): A team of Norwegian and American scientists discover an alien buried deep in the ice of Antarctica, realizing too late that it is still alive.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Some fans have noted similarities between the film series and H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness (fiction), which is also about mysterious ancient alien monsters freed from the ice by a polar expedition, with a climax featuring similarly amorphous and imitative creatures.


Associated Mythos Elements


Keeper Notes


See Also

  • Doctor Who (1963 franchise) - story "Seeds of Doom" is another adaptation of Campbell's original story: scientists in Antarctica uncover an alien pod, which infects one of them and initiates a shocking transformation from human to alien, with a grim emphasis on body horror.
  • Horror Express (1972 film) - essentially the same story, set on the Trans-Siberian railroad.
  • The Intruder Within (1981 film) - essentially the same story, set on an oil rig.