Chuck Russell’s remake of the ’50s science-fiction classic is one of the best, most hardcore horror movies of the ’80s. Despite the silly title and the amorphous titular threat, this is a nasty, grisly number: Russell and Frank Darabont’s screenplay is funny and light, very much taking the same quasi-naive atmosphere of the original, like a sprightly musical score and a small-town resort town setting that make the whole thing seem like good old-fashioned genre entertainment – and then once in a while, the movie explodes with mean-spirited violence and gore that works extremely well and will leave the uninitiated with their jaws on the ground. The special effects themselves are absolutely remarkable and ghoulishly designed, which heightens the shock of the sudden violence that the movie is peppered with, while the movie’s otherwise light, breezy tone manages to be subverted by intermittent over-the-top gore that recalls memorable genre entries like 1982’s “The Thing” and 1986’s “The Fly.” It’s a shame that Russell’s narrative is saddled with weak leads Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith, who share solid chemistry but don’t bring much spark to the proceedings otherwise, and it makes you wonder how much better the movie would be with stronger leads. As it is however, it’s a crisp, fast-paced, humorous and often horrifying genre classic that should be seen by anyone with an interest in horror.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)