Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Richard Masur
It's no exaggeration to call John Carpenter's The Thing the greatest genre remake of all time. In fact, the unimaginative filmmakers cranking out soulless reboots today would be smart to study this gory, violent, and dark blueprint on how to update material with a nihilistic edge. Carpenter's wild pic remains faithful the premise of the 1951 original, The Thing From Another Planet, about a crew of researchers trapped inside a Norwegian camp as a shape-shifting creature picks them off one by one.
Wisely, though, the '51 movie's ante gets upped considerably with a series of gross-out set pieces, the best of which is a bit where the film's human characters are tied to chairs by Kurt Russell in hopes of discovering which of them is now an alien. Staged with heavy tension, the sequence starts off methodical in its build-up before erupting into a grandiose showcase of creepy-crawlies, chests that burst open, and faces that contort into tentacles with eyeballs.
A total hoot that's both cold-blooded and uniquely accessible, The Thing is one of the decade's best genre flicks. Rent this and stay home the next time a horror or sci-fi remake hits theaters. —MB