The Thing ★★★½

[Myspace Film Challenge, Season 3]
[Recommended by Todd]

It was only after some time after watching this that it dawned on me--The Thing isn't a silly tribute piece to 50s and 60s monster horror (including the movie it was a remake of). It was John Carpenter - in his own gross, body-horror, style - developing themes about human distrust and inner fears.

In that respect, it's very similar to something such as Lord of the Flies, William Golding's famous novel. In that book, a group of young boys are stranded on an island. Their fear of a "beast" on the island (which in reality doesn't exist) drives them all to mistrust and eventual madness.

Obviously The Thing and Lord of the Flies are different stories with relatively different themes. But I found The Thing to be incredibly more profound than I was expecting. It's honestly no wonder that this was terribly received in 1982 and practically ruined John Carpenter's career. It had this dark, moody vibe that had existed in other Carpenter movies but not like this. Not to the extent of looking the viewer in the eye and asking them "You tell me. Who is 'infected.' Who should die? Who should live?" And to add on top of that, as this mistrust between the characters develops, MacReady slowly establishes himself as the leader of the group. So now we have a layer asking questions about the morality of authority in this situation.

So it gets thick. And dark. And intense. And it doesn't end easy either. We're given no answers, no happy ending, but a grim look at what destroyed the station. In fact, that's the very question - what destroyed the station? The Thing? Or the researchers themselves? It's a chilling question, and of course left open ended. It surprised me how very little the thing itself had to do with the plot - other than of course being the root of the fear and mistrust between members.

Let's all remember 1983 as the year that Ennio Morricone got nominated for not one, but TWO golden razzie nominations for worst score. I mean, what?? The Thing isn't Morricone's best work but COME ON, it's still pretty stellar, suspenseful stuff. Besides, that was before Morricone had even won an Oscar (long before), but we can discuss my issues with that when I rewatch the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly :)

Okay, speaking of ugly, yes the Thing looks ugly. The entire film does, not just the special effects. I hated it at first, but I kinda started to dig the dark colors and weird blob shape of the thing. It made it all the more horrifying and a teeny bit more fun. And YES I honestly did have fun with this, even with all of the dark themes going on.

My first Carpenter, and it's a thumbs up. Screw those '82 haters.

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