Saturday, October 22, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #10 The Thing

Why I like it: Top ten baby!
Originally a sort of dark sci-fi film from 1951 about an alien vegetable. John Carpenter directs 1982's version of The Thing with as much masterful skill as many of his other classics.

The theme of isolation that Carpenter digs so much is smashing you over the head in this one. A groupd of American researchers are based at a camp in Antarctica. They encounter some crazy Norwegians and investigate. As it turns out: the Norwegians unearthed (un-iced?) an alien that can become anything it kills. It takes them over.

What follows is a beautiful and terrifying horror/sci-fi 10 Little Indians story where you don't know who the alien is and who is human.

The dog scene is a little heart-wrenching for animal lovers and the autopsy scene is classic. Rob Bottin's special effects are a masterpiece to behold and still hold up today.

Kurt Russell is slightly wooden in his role but still evokes the heroic nihilist that Carpenter seems to do so well. Wilford Brimley does his best role since that arthritis medication commercial as the suspect doctor. But Keith David is my favourite in this movie and adds lots of subtle depth that you need when Kurt Russell is around.

Back to the idea of "horror geography." Here it's a little different. Many characters placed very close in proximity and adding stress which ignites some amazing character development. The geography becomes an important part of the film not just through setting but through themes of coldness and isolation. Isolation is a definite check for the researchers but coldness is something they have in common with the Thing. The Thing is looking to survive and cannot do so in the cold. In fact it is in extreme danger of reverting back to its pre-film cryogenic state. A fate the surviving characters themselves face.

I won't go on too much about this film besides saying that I have seen it over 25 times. I still love to watch it and still get chills at certain parts. The ending still hits pretty hard: is it a grim victory or a living infection?



If you don't like this movie then it is very possible that we can't be friends.

Check these out:
-Halloween-Carpenter's masterpiece. More later.
-Assault on Precinct 13-more isolated Carpenter stuff but this time it's a police station undersiege from a gang. Recently desecrated by a remake.
-The Fog-An adaptation of James Herbert's ghost story. Soon to be desecrated by a remake.
-Prince of Darkness-Carpenter does the Devil.
-In the Mouth of Madness-Sam Neill goes insane in this Lovecraftian tale.
-They Live-The human race are cattle being secretly dominated by an alien race and our only hope is...Rowdy Roddy Piper? Oh yeah!
-Big Trouble in Little China-Not horror but it is a must see.

2 Bitching, Moaning and Praise

Anonymous Tina said...

Ah, I love this movie. The idea of evil-that-looks-like-us has been done before and since, but never better. Also it's a great meditation on the consequences of paranoia being almost as dangerous as the threat itself.

I was wondering what to watch tonight, now I know. Thanks for the list.

12:00 am  
Blogger Des said...

no worries, Tina

1:53 am  

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