Most horrifying horror movie monsters: 22. The Thing
What if you encountered a monster that was so adept at shapeshifting, you couldn’t tell who it was until the last, terrible moment? No matter how hard you try, no matter how canny you think you are, this monster can always get the better of you and your weak human brain.
The Thing, directed by horror auteur John Carpenter and released in 1982, wonderfully, chillingly encapsulates this paranoia. It begins in Antarctica, at an isolated research station manned by a small group of scientists and support personnel.
They all witness the strange events that follow when someone from a Norwegian station appears in a helicopter, chasing a sled dog and attempting to shoot it with a rifle. The Norwegian fails, crashing his helicopter and ultimately dying via a gunshot wound. The Americans take in the seemingly harmless dog.
Of course, this decision seals their fate. When helicopter pilot R.J. Macready (Kurt Russell) and Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart) head over to the Norwegian encampment to check things out, they’re met with a scene of nearly unimaginable horror. They discover the charred ruins of buildings, along with several human corpses. Outside, the pair finds another corpse, apparently human apart from the fact that it has two distorted faces.
The rescued sled dog is led to a kennel with the American dogs. While there, it transforms into a creature so bizarre that it defies description. The dog’s head opens up to reveal a plethora of strange tentacles, which it then uses to infect the other canines. Naturally, the infection soon spreads to the humans.
When the Americans follow up on the Norwegians’ documents, they discover a flying saucer buried deep in the Antarctic ice. Their geologist guesses that it may be almost 100,000 years old. Whatever lay within the craft has since escaped and is now attempting to gain a biological foothold, with the humans as hosts for its reproductive purposes.