Saturday, October 9, 2010

THE THING (1982) - Because not all remakes have to suck

Director John Carpenter knows a thing or two (damn, I'm clever as hell) about making classic cult movies, and his 1982 remake of 1951's The Thing from Another World is one of the coolest, most enthralling horror movies ever put to celluloid. The story is set in an Antarctic research base, where a team of American scientists are getting ready for the coming winter, when they get an unexpected visit from a few crazed Norwegians hell bent on killing a poor dog. Little did they know, the dog is in fact a shape-shifting killing machine which has already wiped out most of the Norwegian camp and is getting warmed up for some more nefarious murderin'.

Sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.
R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) takes charge of things as events take a turn for the worse and one by one the alien starts to do some nasty, violent things to most of those unlucky enough to be stuck on the base for the winter. In all, a dozen or so of the scientists have to come to terms with the fact that "the thing" is in fact a murdering space freak than can imitate anything it kills in perfect fashion. This creates some fantastic tension within the group since any number of the scientists could in fact be infected by the alien and the man standing next to him would have no clue about it. The group begins to crack under the pressure and there's a delicious sense of mistrust and fear that creeps in, and we realize that the humans might in fact be even more dangerous than the disgusting alien. The tension is constantly growing and never lets up; characters that  you are sure are humans might not be, and there is a constant sense of dread whenever you hear that great ominous score beginning to pound away.

He might be infected. Let's light him on fire with a flamethrower to be sure.
Speaking of the alien, goddamn is that thing nasty. Back in the 80s, when computer graphics were in their infancy most movies relied on great practical effects to make the outlandish seem possible. The Thing has some of the best effects of the time, and the alien itself is just badass. The thing morphs into any number of weird, grotesque forms, and dispatches the scientists one by one in some pretty grisly ways. I can safely say that if you're seeing The Thing for the first time, you might gag at first sight of the alien. Tentacles, pus, blood squirting everywhere, deformed heads, eyeballs popping out, veins exploding, skin turned inside out, you name it. Shit gets straight up nasty, son.

Dinner and a movie might not be a good idea with The Thing. I'm just sayin'...
That's part of the great tension behind the film. The alien has no stupid powers beyond replicating whatever it is that it kills. It doesn't shoot lasers out of its nipples, or spray nerve gas out of its wrists like the dumbshit aliens in Signs. Nope, it just comes up real close and rips your head off or bites your arms off at the elbow with gigantic teeth. The humans have to use flamethrowers, shotguns and dynamite to try and kill off the various bodies the thing takes over. If you have an aversion to seeing people lit on fire, don't watch The Thing. It happens a lot.

The Thing is a classic horror flick and I've lost count of how many times I've seen it. It gets better with repeat viewings and if you've never seen it, you ought to remedy that right quick.

tl;dr - Kurt Russell and friends attacked by shape-shifting disgusting alien with bloody results - 9/10

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