The Thing (1982)

Thousands of miles from civilization, stranded in blistering Antarctica, a group of research scientists are being slowly hunted and killed off one by one. Unlike most horror films or your classic slasher, the killer in The Thing works largely behind the scenes; an alien being capable of consuming and replicating any form almost flawlessly. So adding to the horror and the dread of being isolated with a monster loose is a heavy sense of paranoia, colleagues doubting colleagues, no one to trust. The protagonist, R.J Macready (played by Kurt Russell), is the only one we can safely assume remains a human, and even this comes under doubt at one point during the film. This scene, coming late in the film, as writer/ director John Carpenter does a masterly job of building up to it, works knowing that we identify with Kurt Russell’s character. He’s the only one we feel we can rightly be afraid for, and Carpenter and Russell fashion a character that is tough and intelligent in equal measure. Here, he’s formed a test that will root out all the fake humans from the group based on some simple but effective blood test. As I’ve said, Carpenter hides his monster/alien much of the movie, and only lets it out occasionally for terrifying, bloody, disgusting moments like this one, where we anxiously watch Macready administer his test. I remember jumping out of my seat watching this scene for the first time. Fantastic setup and an ultra satisfying payoff.

-Walter Howard-

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