Part 4: The Thing
Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell, Donald Moffatt, Richard Dysart, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, TK Carter
The Plot: out on the Antartic wastes, a remote peaceful US outpost is disturbed by a Norwegian "madman" shooting at a nice little doggy. When the Yanks (led by the superb Kurt Russell) decide to investigate their base, they discover an icky mess and a bloody great hole in the ice - the Scandinavians have unwittingly released the long-dormant shapeshifting Thing into our world...
The Actors: Russell has never been better in my opinion. Jaded, depressed and suitably disbelieving, he begins the film slugging whisky and losing at chess to a primitive computer and ends it sitting on the ice, just hanging out waiting to see what happens. The support is also uniformly good and refreshingly lacking the boy-band good looks you get with similar movies these days.
The Monster: A classic. SFX wizard Rob Bottin made his name with his creations here, his imagination unrestricted as the Thing takes on multiple forms, including mutant dog things, disgustingly warped human things, a stomach with razor sharp teeth (!) and a head with legs. I kid ye not.
A bastard to kill as well.
The Film: criminally overlooked at the time (it was depressing and everyone went to see ET or Star Trek II instead), The Thing is a classic sci-fi horror film that has made it's name since, mixing multiple themes such as man's basic distrust of each other, fear of the unknown and of course AIDS, which was most telling during the unbelievably tense blood test scene. The monster is made all the more horrific by it's reproduction method, and the speed at which it could - literally - take over the world.
Monster! Monster! Factor: nine out of ten