Continuing our 31 Days Of Horror here at Last Movie Outpost with The Thing.
Was 1982 the best year in movies? I say yes. E.T., Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Blade Runner, Tootsie, Poltergeist, First Blood, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Conan The Barbarian, and today’s horror classic: The Thing.
This movie is so influential that an entire website dedicated to the love of movies was created based on it! (Three guesses which one and the first two don’t count.)
The Thing is John Carpenter’s sci-fi horror masterpiece that expertly remakes the 1951’s The Thing From Another World and ups the ante with a little cold war themed suspicion. Who is on your side? Who is an imposter?
Part Alien, part slasher movie, part mystery, and all creature feature thanks to Rob Bottin’s expert work. How they did some of it is still making me scratch my head. Truly frightening and alien along with gory and hideous, The Thing itself is an incredibly mesmerizing piece of special effects cinema.
What’s really clever is how they use some tricks to sell it. Take this scene:
In order to accomplish this, they put a mask of the actor’s screaming face on a man who had no arms. They then extended his “arms” with fake forearms. The chest bites off the forearms, a quick look at the screaming face with appropriate sound design and Viola!
There are tons of tricks like this to fool you and the cleverness keeps coming. How about this scene:
Notice when Russell is framed with a fake hand, at 4:46, nothing happens. This lulls the audience into a false sense of security and sets up the scare brilliantly. You aren’t tipped off by a fake hand because it was already fake to begin with. It isn’t that it looks perfectly real, it’s understanding how to set expectations with your audience in order to fool them.
Then there’s the cast, and how perfect is it? Kurt Russell leads it and he’s always the dictionary definition of awesome. Keith David, who would go on to partner with Carpenter again on They Live and give us the best two-man fight ever put on screen is also in the crew. Wilford Brimely without his trademark moustache? Yup! Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat, Richard Masur… so many good “that guys” round out the cast. The casting couldn’t have been more perfect.
A lot of people mistake the minimalist score for Carpenter’s but in fact it was Enrico Morricone who did it. He puposely tried to make it a “John Carpenter Score.” I’d say he succeeded. Still Carpenter did throw a few moments in there of just tonal noise to enhance a few scenes.
I give this a watch every so often and even though I know it backwards and forwards, I never fail to find a little nugget of something new I hadn’t noticed before. Or a new appreciation of what they were able to without the aid of CGI.
Speaking of which, the 2011 remake is a terrible movie and is ruined with CGI. Next time you watch the classic, try keeping it mind when MacCready destroys a computer with his liquour. I tend to see it as “keep your damn CGI away from my movie” now. Accidental symbolism, but symbolism nonetheless.
The Thing will continue to wow audiences long into the future because it never shows its age, and the seams never present themselves. It will always be timeless, it touches on fears mankind will always have, and will never stop being relevant.
More of the 31 Days of Horror Click Here