The Thing (1982)
What you fear most... is among you.
I'm a fan of Kurt Russell movies, and I'm relatively sure that part of the reason is because I enjoy him as an actor. Bigger then that, I believe a lot of the movies he's in are just highly entertaining in some way or another for me more so than just him being in it. The Thing is one of those films that's in my general go-to films for when I'm bored and inevitably comes up at least once a year. Obviously, I like it - but will it click for you? Will it have you looking at the people around you in a new light, or will it be a gooey dead mess?
The poles of our planet are rather cold and dismal. One wouldn't anticipate much of anything happening there, and yet we are introduced to the movie through a helicopter filled with Norwegians chasing down a dog. No context is given (outside of an explanation given in Norwegian, which the average non-norwegian person won't understand and therefore not get too spoiled about) as to why this chase is happening, but when it draws closer to an American science base, the Nords start breaking out explosives and things quickly go south for them when one flies loose from a gloved hand, leaving just a single man on foot to chase the dog. The Americans - not to fond of being shot at - take the man down, and the mystery is set in motion.
A group of the Americans go visit the Norwegian base camp, only to find it in absolute shambles. Looking like someone set a series of bombs off, they sweep the area for any sorts of clues amidst the gutted carnage. It's not too long till they find the corpse of what would appear to be the resident doctor, along with a bunch of tapes and notes (all in Norwegian). As they finish looking inside the base, a giant cube of ice is found - hollowed out by some form of heat as though something was cut out of it. With night time approaching and a storm behind it, they find one more surprise on their way out - a very strange burnt corpse that looks vaguely like a pile of deformed bodies.
Back at the base, things start heating up in the mystery department, and it's not long till it's discovered the dog the Norwegians were chasing isn't so normal. A traumatic scene in the kennel reveals that an alien is among them that can copy the appearance of others. Are the base members going to be able to survive as trust starts to get lost and the base descends to chaos, or will they meet the same fate as the Norwegians?
Special effects here can be described with one word: Wow. Being largely practical, there are a very few number of scenes when things look as though they just don't sit right in the film mechanically (such as a scene at the end that looks quite claymation due to that typical jitter associated with it). The creature itself is frequently gruesome looking, and admittedly those with weaker stomachs might find it to be a bit much with all the blood and grotesque abominations present. For those that can live with it, the creatures various forms ends up really being the stuff of nightmares.
Actors do an absolute gem of a job as well - and in this case it's really something that was necessary for the movie to pull together. If the character's weren't believably distrusting each other due to the nature of the film, the entire tension and mystery would be lost. That being said, there are moments when the acting is less than stellar - usually smaller moments such as somebody "fainting" or the likes. Costumes here aren't really all that crazy, although due to the location and low temperatures we do see a lot of winter-wear, which is a change from quite a bit of normal summer-days type films.
The tension present in the film is rather effective, and you really do spend a good amount of time trying to figure out just who's who in the group. The pacing does start right up into the action, although the escalation of events is certainly noticeable. The soundtrack helps cement the mood present in the lonely cold environment, and keeps it being creepy without actually stealing the show.
Would I recommend it to everyone? Depends on the person. If they don't mind a potentially violent thriller, then certainly i would tell them to check it out. It's a great concept, put together well, and the effects hold up incredibly well for being well over 20 years old. Granted, anyone who wouldn't normally watch an R movie (when the R is gotten from violence) probably won't enjoy this to it's fullest due to that. Heck, if you aren't quite sure, try watching the trailer for it - if it looks interesting to you, you may want to try checking it out regardless of the violence.