I had the most awesome opportunity the other day. I have this really cool husband, I like him a lot. However, he wasn’t exactly a horror fan until we started dating. In fact, he had only seen (and was subsequently traumatized) by “The Exorcist” as a lad. As a horror-holic this has actually worked in my favor. I get to watch a ton of classic horror movies with him and vicariously remember how amazing they were the first time I saw them when I was younger. Not to put him on blast, but I was a little surprised that he had never seen John Carpenter’s “The Thing” since he is a legit Sci Fi fan. So, we watched it the other day and no shock here, he loved it. I was pleasantly surprised that I loved it
as much more than I had the first time I had seen it.
“The Thing” was made in 1982 and directed by horror master John Carpenter. I am not referring to 1951’s “The Thing From Another World”, just to be clear. The Carpenter version stars the always sickeningly cool Kurt Russel, Wilford Brimely, and Keith David to name a few. The film takes place at a remote research center in the Antarctic where a group of scientists (and the hard working crew who keeps the place running) discover that there was something sinister and alien living frozen under the snow until some Norwegians sprung it loose. Specifically, this alien crawls up into a living organism and takes it over. I should mention that the hijacking process is not a pleasant one. However, those around “the thing” don’t really have a way of knowing that their former friend or coworker is being ridden by this parasite.
I admit that as someone who really hearts horror movies, I have a slight tendency to applaud and call many films I love “classic”. However, this one really is classic. I dare say, a masterpiece. Here is what I find truly inspiring about this movie: it was made 30+ years ago, and it still REALLY holds up. There is only a tiny, tiny bit of cheeziness to the special effects. And I do mean tiny. Think like, the size of one of those slivers of almonds you put on a salad sort of tiny. Remember kids, this is before the time of fancy CGI! And it really still looks great. The alien/thing itself is just so gross. It’s gooey, bloody, pus-filed, and I just feel like it probably smells weird. Oh, and that horrid screeching sound it makes?!! That is just good. Not to mention the whole story is just this tension building, and building upon itself. The Thing is desperate to survive, and it could be in anyone. The suspicion, the paranoia, it just escalates! And then like the characters themselves, we in the audience don’t know who to trust anymore either. Well done!
Oh, I want to talk about the ending. So, just scroll down for spoilers. In case you’re jumping off here though, let me just close by saying please go watch “The Thing.” If you don’t like it, you suck and have no taste. Haha-kidding….kinda. 😉 In all seriousness, my love for this film was just rekindled and I was so overwhelmingly impressed by that. I hope you feel the same.
That Spoiler Part: The ending. I know there is much to be said (and has been said) about it. I adore the ambiguous ending. It’s how Carpenter wanted it to be, open to interpretation. My own personal opinion: Childs is the thing, not MacReady/Kurt Russel. My main evidence to support my theory is the fact that you can’t see Child’s breathe out there in the frozen cold…but you can see MacReady’s. And there is such attention paid to the fact that you can only see one of them breathing. Regardless of who you feel is the thing, you can’t deny the power of those two actors in that final scene. Such subtext and knowing in the lines they speak to each other. One of them is determined to save the world if he can, the other is bringing the apocalypse to Earth. Well played sirs; well played indeed.