The plot is more or less the same with an American research base in the Arctic falling prey to a mysterious alien threat., Rather than a six-foot-eight carrot played by James Arness, here the threat is a shape shifting creature that can mimic anybody perfectly. It's a wonderful plot device as Carpenter is able to generate tremendous amounts of suspense simply by not letting on who is really human and who is the alien until it's too late. At that point, he lets Rob Bottin off his meds and the f/x blow your mind.
Bottin's f/x are simply amazing and still hold up today. He gives us slimy creatures, whipping tentacles and fused together monstrosities that are utterly, repulsively horrifying. Stan "Winston also chips in with an f/x sequence revolving around the base's dogs that is just awesome. It's not often that the f/x work in a 32 year old movie hold up this well. It certainly helps that the film was made right in the middle of the boom in practical makeup f/x and managed to snag not one but two of the best in the business.
The cast is also uniformly excellent with Kurt Russell standing out, naturally with his huge beard and cowboy hat. Mix in a distinctly laconic attitude and you get one of his best roles. MacReady is one of his great acting creations. The rest of the cast is solid too with Richard Dysart's doctor and Keith David making a good impression. Wilford Brimley is also fun in his role.
The other star of the film is the camera work from Dean Cundey. Always one of the best in his field, he makes the camera pov shots almost a character in themselves. Carpenter always excels at long tracking shots and he uses them here to spectacular effect. There is one shot with the infected dog that starts the whole mess that is just great.
The Thing is Carpenter's crowning cinematic achievement. Tense, well acted, well shot with a nicely sparse score from Ennio Morricone and scary as hell, it is possibly the best remake of all time to say nothing of one of the best horror films ever made.