You are here

The Thing: BFI Film Classics

Re-evaluation of John Carpenter’s landmark film, which refines the conventions of classic horror and science fiction.

An alien entity that can take any living form invades an isolated scientific research station in the Antarctic. John Carpenters The Thing is best known for some of the most startling visual effects – surreal, lurid, shocking perversions of the human body – ever committed to celluloid. At Londons National Film Theatre in 1995, Quentin Tarantino named The Thing as one of his favourite films. Yet when it was released in 1982, it fared badly against another alien encounter movie, E.T., and critics panned it. But The Thing has aged well, and its influence can now be detected in everything from Seven to Red Dwarf and The X Files.

In her elegant and trenchant study, Anne Billson argues that The Thing has never been given its due. For Billson, its a landmark movie that brilliantly refines the conventions of classic horror and science fiction, combining them with humour, Lewis Carroll logic, strong characterisations and prescient insight. The idea of an alien species mutating and inhabiting humans resonates all too chillingly with today’s new and ever more powerful genetic technology.

You are here

Back to the top

See something different

Subscribe now for exclusive offers and the best of cinema.