by Adam Ferenz
June 25, 1982. 109 minutes. Written by Bill Lancaster, from the short story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell. Directed by John Carpenter. Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clenon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Donald Moffat, Richard Masure, Joe Polis and Thomas Waites.
John Carpenter’s adaptation of Who Goes There? is on the short list of best second takes ever. This gets called a remake, of the earlier film of the same name. I prefer to think of it as what it is, a new adaptation, because this bears little resemblance to the original, aside from some visual nods to that earlier film, chiefly a shot of the Americans investigating the crash site of the alien ship. Why is this a new adaptation, and not a remake? Why is this also not just a science fiction film, but a horror film, and why is it, in every way, a masterwork? I am glad you did not ask, but I am more than glad to tell you.
A remote American outpost in the Antarctic is beset by violence and suspicion after a Norwegian team chases a dog into the American camp, and are promptly shot, but not without raising questions about why they were chasing the dog, obviously desperate in trying to kill it. The answer comes quickly after the camp’s pilot, MacReady, goes with Dr. Cooper, to see what was happening at the Norwegian camp. They discover it in ruins, and a strange corpse inside, burned. Taking it back with them, it becomes apparent it is not exactly human. The dog, meanwhile, has been kenneled with the other dogs, and begins killing them, revealing itself as a shape-shifter. The men return to the Norwegian camp and discover the excavated remains of a downed alien craft, and evidence of a block of ice that had been hollowed out and thawed, apparently the source of the creature. Dr. Blair begins running estimates that the creature not only adapts to mimic other forms, but could take over the entire planet within a few years. Continue Reading »