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The Thing

Man is the warmest place to hide. 

Year: 1982 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 (70mm) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by John Carpenter 
Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Donald Moffat  
An image from The Thing

The tone of the film can be captured by a line a short while into the film: “I don’t know what the hell’s in there but it’s weird and pissed off whatever it is!”

And there we have, The Thing. Based on the popular novel by John W. Campbell, Jr., and sharing far more than a passing resemblance to the 1951 Howard Hawks film The Thing From Another World, Carpenter’s The Thing tells the story of Americans at an Antarctic research station who discover that an extra-terrestrial, once frozen in the ice, has now thawed and is hell-bent on world domination. The Thing tears whatever it can get its tentacles on, limb from limb.

Created by “visual magician” Rob Bottin, the effects are jaw dropping and stomach churning in equal measure – this is gory sci-fi at its best/worst depending on your threshold. The film shocked many critics expecting an alien similar to that of E.T. (released in the same year), but Carpenter’s alien is much more in tune with what we today have come to expect from our cinematic other-worldly creatures; more likely to eat you alive than sit in a basket in the front of your bike.

Those willing to look past the gruesome gore-fest will be rewarded with a very suspenseful, intense story accompanied by a chilling soundtrack by the musical genius of Ennio Morricone. Carpenter remains faithful to the slightly more subtle horror deployed in his other horror staples such as The Fog or Halloween, raising questions of personal identity, loyalty and trust while incorporating visual effects incomparable with any films of that era. How would we know a perfect duplicate from the original? How could we? So take a closer look at your flat mates, how can you be sure that they’re not…The Thing?

Joel Sinyard

An American scientific expedition to the frozen wastes of Antarctica is interrupted by a pair of panic-stricken Norwegians pursuing a husky dog with murderous intent. Their helicopter explodes, leaving no explanation for the chase. During the night, as the scientists look on in shock, the animal mutates and attacks the other dogs in the camp. The team soon realises that a bizarre alien life-form has found its way to their midst.

With the creature duly dispatched, a small team led by MacReady (Russell) journeys to the Norwegians' base, now a smoking ruin, and returns with what looks like a body. Further investigation reveals that the Norwegians found something under the ice. Something big. An alien space-craft which seems to have been buried for thousands of years. Having unwittingly brought its pilot back with them, they unleashed a shape-changing alien of unspeakable power. Back at the American outpost - the same alien life-form with the ability to take over human bodies is on the loose, and the survivors realise they are what stands between the Thing and total infection of the planet. But can they trust each other - when there is no guarantee the next man is human?

Filmed with Carpenter's flair for suspense and isolation, The Thing is a modern horror classic (and one of my personal favourites) with award-winning special FX, the likes if which have never been equalled. You'll believe a head can sprout legs. Watch the skies.

Simon C. Williams

Back due to popular demand, John Carpenter's scariest film (possibly with the exception of Halloween) will this time be presented in a sexy 70mm format - that's better sound and better picture quality all-round. Set in the frosty, barren whiteness of Antarctica, The Thing tells the story of a group of science outpost workers who discover, and may be destroyed by, a shape changing alien.

Life is dull in a science outpost, beset by the cruel Antarctic winter and cut off from the rest of the world. But MacReady (Russell, who recently made a big splash in Stargate) is cool, calm and collected, spending most of his time playing chess against a speaking BBC Micro. His games are interrupted by a helicopter of panic-striken Norwegians, who seem to be chasing a husky dog with murderous intent. With those crazy Norwegian brains judiciously blown out, the team begin to investigate their deserted outpost, and make a terrifying discovery. Those fiesty Norwegians have found something under the ice, a huge metallic object which seems to have been buried for thousands of years. Having brought part of their find back with them and allowed it to thaw out, they have unleashed a shape-changing alien of unspeakable power - and it's pissed off.

Filmed with Carpenter's usual flair for building suspense and capturing isolation, The Thing also boasts ground-breaking special effects by Rob Bottin (of Total Recall fame) and Stan Winston (of Aliens and Terminator) - eye-popping visuals are abound. This is a horror movie classic which deserves the full cinema treatment. Watch the skies.

Mark Chambers

This eighties remake of the classic 1951 movie The Thing From Another World has become a cult horror legend in itself. Directed by suspense master John Carpenter, and showcasing the ground-breaking effects work of Rob Bottin, The Thing is an eerie unsettling film which will probably stay with you for a long time.

In the desolate, isolated setting of the Antarctic, the men at an American research station are shocked when they are attacked by a Norwegian helicopter. The Norwegians appear to be insane bent on shooting a dog they are chasing - and the leader of the US team has no choice but to shoot them. Rushing out to investigate the Norwegian Research station, the team, lead by MacReady (Russell), discover the evidence that their Scandinavian pals have found something which has been buried in the ice for millions of years.

They have unwittingly unleashed an awesome life-form, which imitates and replaces any living thing it comes into contact with. Cut off from the rest of the world, and with time running out, the men can no longer trust one-another - and the Thing is taking over them one by one.

Feeding on paranoia and suspense, Carpenter's interpretation of The Thing is remarkably closer to the original short story of a shape-changing alien. The result is a disturbing, eye-popping, relentless horror extravaganza with incredible (no computers involved) special effects. Literally not for the faint-hearted, as the infamous resuscitation scene proves (not the sort of thing you get to see on Casualty). Remember: watch the person in the seat next to you closely. Man is the warmest place to hide. (Cackle).

Mark Chambers

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Screenings of this film:

1995/1996 Spring Term (70mm)
1996/1997 Autumn Term (70mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (70mm)
2001/2002 Autumn Term (70mm)
2010/2011 Spring Term (70mm)