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Friday, December 18, 2009

John Carpenter's The Thing

     Exactly how a remake should be done, John Carpenter took an interesting story ripe with possibilities and flat out kicks ass with it. Very underrated when first released, (it opened up against cuddly E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL- guess who won?) THE THING now has a reputation for the one of the best sci-fi/horror movies of the 80's, and definitely one of Carpenter's best. Kurt Russell leads an all-star cast as a group of scientists in Antarctica who find a spaceship buried deep in the ice. Unknown to them, there is some sort of lifeform in the ship and it's able to get inside other living creatures without anybody knowing it and take on their shape. That's when the fun begins.

      Besides being extremely claustrophobic- you firmly believe that these men are truly trapped on a polar ice cap and have absolutely nowhere to go, Carpenter treats us to some mind-blowing, stomach-churning effects as the scientists confront the shape-shifting alien who assumes the appearance of the person it kills.  The isolation, the snow, the paranoia- all elements used extremely well in THE SHINING also greatly add to the tension here.

     I don't even know if I would consider this a sci-fi movie- it's pretty much straight-forward horror. Carpenter manages to create a wonderfully dark and paranoiac atmosphere, and his effects simply blow away any modern CGI hocus pocus. These were the days when special effects artists actually earned their paychecks, unlike today when a computer does everything.  It also boasts a haunting, moody synth score by the great Ennio Morricone.

      THE THING is one of the most entertaining horror films of all time- it's smart, brooding, apocalyptic, and as unconventional as a Hollywood movie can get.  And also one of the best movies to watch in anamorphic widescreen- it's truly remarkable. Today, THE THING is considered one of the greatest cult movies of the 80's that's absolutely on the level of 1979's ALIEN, and makes a great double feature with that film. A perfect Creature Feature.

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