Blast from the past

John Carpenter’s The Thing: watching the classic for the first time

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The Thing has always alluded me. I’ve been a John Carpenter fan for years, now but The Thing has always been just the film on the list. The film on the list I’ll have to watch in the future and it stayed there for years and years. Well, until last night.

Last night my boy and I had a mini John Carpenter marathon. We stared of with The Thing, continued with Starman and we were thinking of ending the night with They Live (but we were too sleepy and tired for a third movie). They Live was postponed for tonight and the ending an 80’s inspired John Carpenter movie marathon. Like I’ve said, I was a huge John Carpenter before (I loved Halloween, Escape from NY, Village of the damned and Escape from LA even) but I wasn’t a huge fan of Big trouble in Little China.

The Thing was something else. I loved it from the first shot right until the very last. My boy was familiar with my aversion from the horror genre, and how scared the horror movies make me, so I was warned properly beforehand. But actually it wasn’t that scary, I must say. I was more frightened from IT’s jump scares than I was scared from the shape imitating monsters that was lurking from the Antarctica.

Yes, I adored the practical effects end the nerve-wrecking Ennio Morricone musical score, but I was most impressed with the direction, cinematography and the atmosphere of the movie. Stuck in the never-ending cold and ice at Antarctica, the vast openness of the destitute snowy surroundings were just as claustrophobic as the closed spaces with those long hallways of the American research station. And don’t even get me started how terrifying those scenes were when the night fell, and the snow storm started coming in.

A big contributor to the paranoia was the fact that all of the men had similar color of clothing, similar haircuts and 5 of those men had even facial hair that was very similar. At times it was very hard for me to follow the characters because of it. Yes, the blood test was awesome and scary at the same time, and I can understand why it took for only that particular scene for Kurt Russel to be sold and convinced in starring in The Thing.

And speaking of men… Did you noticed that there were only men in the cast? Yeah, the only female voice is in the chess computer game that MacReady (Russel) plays at the very beginning of the The Thing, but that’s it. It’s a very male dominated cast and I was fine with it actually. I’m usually not, and I’d love to see a female character in the movies, but here it worked. My guess is that a woman would be the first to die in a movie like this.

I was saddened to find out that The Thing was not a commercial or critical success when It came out in 1982, and to find out that is was over-shadowed by Steven Spielberg’s E.T. I’d like for The Thing to have found its audience, but I’m glad it’s considered one of the greatest horror films today. Better late than never, I guess. They Live is next.

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