John Carpenter remade the Thing From Another Planet (1951) in 1982. I wonder if this was the first example of the sub-genre of action-horror? Certainly, Aliens (1986), Predator (1987), Pitch Black (2000), and the 1999 remake of The Mummy, fall into this genre. But I can’t think of any examples before The Thing. The first Alien (1979) may have been close, but not quite. In any case, this is a highly entertaining movie with a great lead part for Kurt Russell, but the movie’s not without its flaws.
Story/Plot/Characters–Acting is great, pacing is fine, but the characters are thin (not to mention their roles are essentially recycled from Alien). Also, a key plot point is ridiculous. When the station biologist, Blair (played quite well by Wilford Brimley!), performs an autopsy of the disfigured corpse, he realizes it must be an alien creature. Fine. But then he runs a computer program that calculates the alien, which can assume the form of any creature it takes over, will overrun the earth within a matter of weeks. What? Did Blair just happen to have that program on his computer? I’m sure there’s a huge demand for “Alien Takeover Simulation 2.0.” Or did he program it himself while on break from the alien autopsy? This makes no sense, and it is a major hinge in the movie. I count it as a glaring plot hole, and take off an entire point. (2 points)
Special Effects–This has some of the best effects of any horror movie I’ve ever seen. (2 points)
Scariness–Some scary scenes. I feel the very nature of the movie as a hybrid between action and horror undermines some of the scariness, though. (1 point)
Atmosphere/Freakiness–The creature’s transformations are pretty freaky, and the isolated nature of Antarctic outpost makes for a nice feeling of isolation. But again, the action aspects undermine the atmosphere. (1 point)