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Friday, October 01, 2004

The Thing

One of my favorite Sci-Fi/Horror movies is the 1982 John Carpenter version of “The Thing” Before I discuss it in detail, I do want to share some background. Some people may already know that this is a re-make of the 1951 movie titled “The Thing From Another World”. This 50’s B-movie classic was based on the novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, which was written in 1938.

“The Thing From Another World” starred James Arness who had been making movies since 1947 but needed this movie and several others including another B-movie classic “Them” before he would find his western legacy in the role of Marshall Matt Dillon in the television series “Gunsmoke” circa 1955

Now, the 80s were a great era for horror movies and along comes John Carpenter who had already had success with “Halloween”, and “The Fog.” He dedicates an enormous amount of time and energy in re-making this classic B-movie into a cult classic movie of the 80’s!

The Story: An American scientific expedition to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic is interrupted by a group of seemingly mad Norwegians pursuing and shooting a dog. The helicopter pursuing the dog crashes leaving no explanation for the chase. During the night, the dog mutates and attacks other dogs in the cage and members of the team that investigate. The team soon realizes that an alien life form with the ability to take over other bodies is on the loose and they don't know who may already have been taken over.

As they piece together evidence and try to understand the mystery, they figure out that centuries ago, an alien spaceship had crash-landed in the Antarctic. The pilot was thrown clear and frozen in the ice until discovered by the Norwegian scientists. The scientist on the American team comes to comprehend that the alien is extremely hostile and because of its ability to alter its own cell structure to that of a consumed organism, it would be devastating to the entire world.

Persons of interest: The lead character is MacReady, a helicopter pilot, played by Kurt Russell, who incidentally also starred in one of Carpenter’s successful non-horror films called “Escape from New York.” The other very notable character is the senior mechanic called Childs played by Keith David. Keith is one of my favorite actors who went on to star in “Platoon”, “They Live”, and “RoadHouse” as well as the voice of Goliath in the hit cartoon series “Gargoyles.”

The special effects team did an outstanding job on this film. Rob Bottin (of “The Howling” fame) was mainly responsible for bring the creature to life. He was assisted by Stan Winston (who also worked on “Aliens” and “Jurrasic Park”), and a considerable contribution was made by Albert Whitlock who worked on many films including “The Andromeda Strain” There is a lot of blood and gooey, slimy effects that make this movie a gore-tastic time!

In the original movie screenplay, Charles Lederer proposes that the visitor from another planet may not be far different from examples of plants on Earth that think like the Venus Flytrap. It is a scene that takes place in a hydroponics lab (green house) while they are trying to determine the origin of the thing. There was a tribute to the original film that was cut out of this 1982 version of “The Thing”. This deleted scene was where a character named Palmer and Childs have teamed up to search for one of their missing team. They check in one of the storage rooms where plants are being grown using hydroponic methods. Palmer decides that the Thing may be capable of imitating plants and lets loose with the flamethrower, much to the disgust of Childs. What a great way that would have been to pay homage, on screen, to the movie’s predecessor.

I do not agree with other critics that this movie suffers from a low budget, poor production, ridiculous & unrealistic scripts, and pathetic acting. Carpenter did an amazing job at not only re-making a worthy classic, but also finding a way to gel all the elements into a damn good movie!

  • Today's Cure song is "The Walk" from the Japanese Whispers CD - (1985) A strange tune that may be about dreams. It is laden heavy with electronic sounds and bouncing keyboards.

"Visiting time is over And so we walk away And both play dead then cry out loud Why we always cry this way? "



Blogger Didou said...

One of my all-time favorites. The first time I saw it, I only heard the noises & dialogs because I was too scared to look at the screen. You have to know that I was under 6 years old when it was showing on the TV & my cousins being the horror-freaks that they were watched it on their TV even though I was in the room.

*SPOILER ALERT*I still remember the first scene where the infected dog starts changing after they've put him with the other dogs & the scene where they're testing the blood samples of the crew. Classic movie. :-)

Friday, October 01, 2004 5:59:00 PM  
Blogger nicole said...

I have a funny memory of watching "The Thing." I was going to a formal dance with my date, his brother and date. The brother was older and was also driving us, so he decided to stop back at home for a "quickie" with his girlfriend. My date and I sat on the couch and watched "The Thing." It was just a little awkward.

Saturday, October 02, 2004 6:54:00 PM  
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