Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Movie Appraisal: The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter's The Thing, directed by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell, is one of the greatest horror films of all time. It is a remake of The Thing From Another World, a film that I also reviewed at one point. That film was not terrible, but this film is absolutely brilliant from beginning to end.
As I've mentioned before, John Carpenter is one of my favorite directors of all time, and this film is a big reason for it. Yes, I have a fairly biased opinion towards this movie, but I only have that opinion because it is so blasted fantastic. The atmosphere, the isolation, the body-horror, and the unknown all come together in this movie, showing that a movie can be mainstream, terrifying, and atmospheric, which is incredibly rare in films that come out today.
This movie is easily one of the most recognizable and easily accessible horror movies of all time. Most people who have ever known anything about horror, would probably know something about this film. Josh Carpenter created his masterpiece in this movie, which he never again equaled in any of his other horror movies... arguably he never reached this level again.
Now, as I've mentioned before, I really like John Carpenter films until the mid-1990s or so. But with In The Mouth of Madness and after he seemed to have faltered quite a bit. I really like that film, but it can easily be seen as utterly ridiculous, with sometimes incredibly bad acting and out-of-place humor throughout the film. And maybe that's why I have a problem with late Carpenter... but, I'm getting all over the place rather than focusing on The Thing.
The Thing is an atypical movie for so many reasons. It does everything that most horror movies don't let themselves do. It contains absolutely no female actresses and as an added bonus, has no screaming women. It kills off animals, dogs in particular, as well as much of the actual cast. It has an utterly bleak ending, one that gives little hope to an actual happy ending, and it all takes place in an area on Earth that few of us would ever understand. Antarctica is wholly an alien place to us, feeling just as extraterrestrial as an alien world. The feeling of isolation permeates the movie, coming into especial prominence as the titular thing takes over more and more people and animals.
The flamethrowers, the heavy use of body-horror, and the outstanding special effects give this movie an absolutely unique flavor that is all its own. The acting is topnotch, the directing is masterful, and the fear of the horror permeates the screen itself making this easily one of the best alien horror movies of all time along with The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 or 1978) and... well, not much else that I can think of. Alien movies are not exactly my thing, I have to admit. Aliens really do tend to bore me. Maybe the Alien series is really good, and maybe I should really check it out, but I have no real desire to do so. It seems like more action than horror to me and that automatically makes it less interesting to me.
Wow, I am digressing like crazy during this review, going off on wild tangents only marginally related to the topic at hand. Look, watch this movie, horror fan or not. John Carpenter puts himself on top of the masters of horror with this movie and... well, it really is fantastic from beginning to end. The isolation and atmosphere are simply amazing and everything else in the movie comes together. For me, this movie embodies what I love about 1980s in horror. It is a classic film and everybody in the universe needs to watch it at least once in their lifetimes. Yes, even babies.
And things, I suppose... although they might not be rooting for MacReady... and shame on them. Yes, you heard me, shame on you, you stinking alien brats, thinking you can take us over like some kind of crazy parasite. Where's my flamethrower? I need to check if people are things...