Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Remembering The Thing (1982)

I was fortunate to catch one of my favorite science fiction-based horror movies last night and what I think is one of John Carpenter's best movies. In The Thing, he manages to transcend his source material (1951's The Thing from Another World ), and create a film that is both iconic and whose thrills and tricks were rarely imitated. It is one of a few remakes that I've actually loved.

Now I must confess, the supernatural doesn't really scare me at all... I mean, I watched Poltergeist as a little kid and I was fine. I am not including zombies in this classification however, because that is a beautiful, bloody world onto itself. Aliens I could go either way on.

But what does freak me out though is isolation and there are few places on Earth as remote as the icy wastes of Antarctica. It is in this setting where we first meet the members of an American research team, who discover that a seeming act of animal kindness may be the key to their unwitting doom at the hands of an parasitic alien lifeform that is taking over members of the team. And because it is freezing cold outside, the team is stuck in a claustrophobic compound with no escape. In that kind of situation, the question you are left with is: Who can you trust?

Watching this movie really makes me miss the use of models, makeup and creature design from the pre-CGI days. I mean, the visual effects in this movie are pitch perfect and just plain disturbing. It also makes me miss the days where a trailer didn't tell you the whole story before you've seen the movie.

The Thing is also a very male-centered movie, with the only female presence being the uncredited performance of John Carpenter's then-wife Adrienne Barbeau as the voice of the computer near the beginning of the movie. With Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley and Keith David in his first high-profile role, it is quite a first line cast for this type of movie in the early 1980's, and Carpenter uses them to the best of their abilities without going overboard like he may have if The Thing had come out later in his career.

And despite the fact that Ennio Morricone was nominated for a Razzie for the score of the picture, I think it has also stood the test of time, especially the atmospheric "Humanity (Part II)" which serves as the opening theme for the film. It reminds me of a strange heartbeat, and for a movie about an alien lifeform, it is very fitting. I mean, I'll put it this way... how bad could he really score a movie? He is a modern master of that art.

The movie also spawned one of the best movie-based games I've ever played in 2002.

So all-in-all, The Thing gives you all the thrills, the gore and suspense that a horror fanatic may be looking for this Halloween, so if you haven't seen it, you should take a gander.


omninaïf said...

J. Carpenters 'The Thing' scared the holy hotcakes outta me as a child. But just recently I watched the original 'The Thing from Another World' on TMC and was throughly dissapointed. 1951? What do ya know? Now, I really want to read 'Who Goes There' by John W. Campbell, Jr. The book that started it all.

omninaïf said...

Opps, stupid me, I originaly was going to say, 'Good Post'.

Mr. Fabulous said...

I miss the Adrienne Barbeau of the late 70's early 80's.

For two very obvious reasons.

I did not know she had been married to Carpenter. Hmm.

MC said...

Omni: I remember seeing the 1951 version of the movie on TV as a kid, and it really doesn't hold up well. It is just so corny now.

Mr. Fab: They were probably married for the same two reasons.

Semaj said...

Is the one with the snow dogs turning into creatures? This movie scared the crap out of me.

A lot of people like Ennio Morricone, but I'm not a fan of his work in his later movies.

MC said...

Yes, this is that movie.

jeni said...

I saw The Thing when I was 11, it was New Year's Day. It scared me senseless. I didn't get any good sleep (or any sleep for that matter) for a whole week. I ended up a nervous wreck. Eleven! I was ELEVEN!! Where was Parental Guidance when you needed it??