The original The Thing is still a superior version of this story because it is what it is: just a fun popcorn movie that draws in enough real anxiety (the fear of monsters both at home and abroad is always in the atmosphere of this movie) and enough humor to balance that anxiety. It's probably the most compact, smart, and fun example of the alien invasion movies of its time period (alongside Invasion of the Body Snatchers). Plus, it has that wonderful Howard Hawks-ish banter between the characters. (He purportedly directed much of the film, although Christian Nyby was officially behind the directorial reins.) They're played by a remarkably game cast of B-movie actors, including Kenneth Tobey as the military captain called upon to enlist the scientists, Margaret Sheridan as the sexy, intelligent secretary, Robert Cornthwaite as the scientist who sees their discovery as a monumental moment in human history, and Douglas Spencer as the wiry, acerbic, but good-natured newspaperman who's desperate for a story.
There's something so delightful about the way The Thing doesn't try and put the screws on its audience. The actors never take themselves or the material too seriously, and the production team makes good use of that old technique of not revealing your monster too soon. Sure he looks a bit hokey now, but James Arness's tall, shambling monstrosity is strangely impressive and foreboding and even tragic, much like Frankenstein's monster. (I have to think that the make-up effects people had that character in mind when designing him.) This is a movie that just wants us to have fun. It puts me in such a good mood when movies want this.
With James Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, and William Self.