John Carpenter’s seminal 1982 body horror hones a minimal score, bleak landscapes and a gripping story that stands as the director’s best work.
Kurt Russell is MacReady, a US helicopter pilot stationed on Antarctica at an American Research Base. Joining him is Keith David, Wilford Brimley and a whole other host of actors who make up the entire crew of U.S. Outpost 31. They quickly find themselves in peril, after an extraterrestrial organism has been thawed out of the ice and can assimilate with any living creature on the planet!
As the movie goes on, the men become increasingly paranoid and cautious over who they trust, this brings about hostility towards one another which makes for great drama. The most memorable moment from the film is the blood testing scene, where MacReady is abandoned out in the open by colleague Nauls, then makes his way back to the camp with a flare and stick of dynamite, desperate to uncover the identity of the thing. MacReady determines albeit a hot needle to blood, whether or not a thing has assimilated with one of them. A tense scene that’s masterfully brought to life patiently and methodically.
Kurt Russell’s performance as MacReady is straight-up awesome! An alcoholic libertarian-type figure with — one of the most iconic beards in cinema history — that adopts the leadership role of the group when the story is cranked up a notch.
VERDICT — Throughout the film there is an air of uncertainty about our characters’ true nature which is blended with sharp dialogue and bleak set pieces, that make it all the more unique and thrilling. An 80’s classic in every sense of the word and a true benchmark in John Carpenter’s career.
RATING: 9.8 — SUPERB
MVP: Kurt Russell. Who fends off strong competition from Keith David as Childs.