Random Film of the Week: The Thing

 

THE THING_MP_1982So, it’s John Carpenter’s birthday and once more, I find myself writing about The Thing. The last time it was a dissection of that disappointing 2011 prequel and this time, it’s a little look back at what I think is one of the scariest mainstream sci-fi/horror films of the 80’s that still works today thanks to how well it was put together. The overall tone of relentless, deliberate dread the film sets up from the very beginning is claustrophobic and overpowering as you’re sucked into the story about the doomed men of Outpost #31.

I saw this back in 1982 and the film really pushed the envelope of what could be done with practical effects so much that even today most of Rob Bottin’s (and that brief slice of Stan Winston’s) groundbreaking work holds up as believable. Of course, the story and excellent cast also make this one such a killer film to curl up with that I’d even recommend it to those who hate horror movies just because everything clicks so well…
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Dissecting THE THING: Missing Minutiae, Merrily Making Modern Mistakes…

While last year’s prequel to John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film was well-made and an effectively creepy good time, as a big fan of the original 1951 flick and of course, JC’s fine retelling… I was a tiny bit disappointed. For me, part of great suspense is all in the build up and despite some nice scares, the prequel loses a bit of suspense because it doesn’t build much empathy for its doomed cast (and loses some chances to once the monsters start appearing). Still, I found most the film fine until the entire alien saucer sequence complete with that all-too common “formerly flexible monster who can’t quite reach the heroine!” and “run like hell to escape the big explosion” set pieces we’ve all seen in too many other films. I’ll get to the “leave ’em hanging!” part of the pre-credit ending later, as there’s a great (and I think intentional) workaround there that could actually set up an actual sequel (should someone be crazy enough to make one)…

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