Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"I know I'm human..."

R.J. MacReady, from The Thing.

The Thing is both a remake and an adaptation that, while veering far from the original movie, adheres much more closely to the original source material (but still veers readily from that, as well). Tense, claustrophobic, terrifying, and flat out disgusting, The Thing is one of the most effective horror movies of all time. A critical and financial bomb at the box office, it has since gone on to become one of the most well-regarded genre works of the '80's, and holds up amazingly well still. Its themes of distrust and alienation (no pun) are perhaps more relevant than ever. After all, when your very neighbor could be The Thing, who do you trust?

Based on "Who Goes There?", a short story by legendary editor/writer John W. Campbell, the movie takes place at a remote scientific outpost in Antarctica. A bizarre attack on the outpost leads the men to the slow realization that they are not alone. Among them is a terror unlike any they've encountered... and it can look like anyone. The Thing is just a truly scary movie, in the best sense of the word. Don't watch it with the lights out.

I couldn't even tell you when I was first introduced to this movie. Probably back in the mid to late 80's, when it was playing on Saturdays on WPGH. Of course, since it was broadcast television, I was spared the full impact of the movie (friggin' gross!) until sometime later, most likely HBO. The science fiction aspect of it was certainly a draw, as well as it being a horror movie. I know it scared me every time I watched it. It was a Kurt Russell/John Carpenter movie, so it had that going for it as well (see Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China for further proof of greatness). I just loved how, when so many movies were about flash and action and simple, happy resolutions, this movie took the road less traveled. This is one of my favorite movies, and I can't recommend it enough. For more on this movie, please check out Outpost 31.

Tomorrow: The Other Thing.

Music: "A Warm Place" - Nine Inch Nails

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