THE THING (1982)

Empire (UK) - - CINEMAS -

At the peak of the para­noia that runs through John Car­pen­ter’s masterpiece like the black­est seam of coal, Kurt Russell’s Macready hits upon an in­ge­nious scheme: the only way to tell who’s hu­man, and who’s a shapeshift­ing Thing, is by draw­ing out their blood and heat­ing up the plasma. We know some­one will out them­selves, but we don’t know who, when or how: Hitch­cock him­self couldn’t have or­ches­trated ten­sion this pre­cisely. It has ev­ery­thing: sus­pense, ac­tion, hero­ism, gore, and an amaz­ing punch­line with Don­ald Mof­fat’s Garry rag­ing at his fel­low sur­vivors. In­cred­i­bly, in a film fea­tur­ing FX bof­fin Rob Bot­tin’s trans­mo­gri­fy­ing dogs, a chest cav­ity filled with fangs, and a dis­em­bod­ied head that turns into a spi­der, the scene also has the film’s sim­plest ef­fect: the hand Russell uses to hold the petri dish is a fake. It’s so good Robert Ro­driguez bor­rowed the scene whole­sale for The Fac­ulty. And praise doesn’t come any higher than that.

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