Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trailer - Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Here is something that I haven’t done in a really long time. If you knew about my blog, I used to watch horror movie trailers and judge the movie based on the trailer. It’s something that I haven’t done in awhile and I figured that I should come back to my roots… and what better of a movie than Paranormal Activity 2.

From what I saw, the film takes place in another house… of course, but this time it’s a larger house that obviously has security cameras, a baby and a dog so it’s a much bigger supporting cast. You also get to see the main antagonist of the film, which looks just like Katie from the first movie. It didn’t really make me geared up for the movie and it looks like it’s either going to be a new family but the same spirit or Katie is going to return from wherever she came from. Either way, the trailer (or teaser) was a bit disappointing.

I also noticed the little blip of a voice at the end of the trailer that’s in a demonic voice. I’m sure somebody will decipher that in a heartbeat. There is writing on the carpet… but it only appears if you look at it through a mirror. So I’m sure there is going to be a huge viral campaign that’s about to erupt. Bottom line: it really did not need to happen although since it would see that stakes are higher, I’m interested to see where this goes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Relive the Paranoia

Since The Thing Week is over, I figured that I would create this page so that you can easily navigate through all the Thing posts that I published for The Thing Week. That way you don’t have to sift through the actual feed. I’ll also have the links to my reviews as well as trivial stuff dealing with The Thing that I previously published. So in essence this is somewhat of a recap.

The Thing Week (6/21 - 6/27, 2010)
My Childhood Encounter
Ode to the Original
The Beauty of Puppets
A Tribute to Albert Whitlock
Knick-Knacks and Things
In Memoriam
‘Ice’ from The X-Files
The Thing Game Retrospective
Review – The Thing by Kevin Carr
Review – The Thing by Death Rocker
The Legacy of The Thing

The Thing Week (6/20- 6/26, 2011)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Legacy of The Thing

Well folks, it’s been a fun ride but I must end The Thing Week. In all honesty, I probably could have made this into The Thing Month but I decided not to for time sake. As you can see, not only in my case but in other people’s cases as well, The Thing is a horror film that is very close to my heart. It’s not just a horror movie but it was the first horror movie to truly give me night terrors. It was the first horror movie that made me want to go into filmmaking. It was the first horror movie that I remember getting involved with. I can’t tell you how many times I used to play The Thing with my friends. It’s a movie that will go down in history as being the best of the best.

I want to end on a few stories that people had with The Thing. If you have been following me on Twitter, I have been asking the horror community to share their personal experiences with The Thing and surprisingly only a few answered. Though I am sort of saddened that not many people wanted to share their experience, I know that The Thing meant a lot to them. So below are some Thing stories that I would like to share.

“My asshole stepdad ushered me into the horror genre at a very young age. What sucked though was we were never allowed to pick out what WE wanted to watch. So I was a bit sheltered on the horror I watched back then. The very first movie I ever picked out by myself was 'The Thing' and I have to say... I have excellent taste. Bringing that movie home completely changed the face of horror for me. I started caring about characters and plot development and story lines and F/X. There is no doubt in my mind that my love of writing and filmmaking in general is all because of John Carpenter and 'The Thing'.”
- Gore Whore of Twisted Central

“The Thing is one of those movies that has always stuck with me ever since I saw it as little kid. I must have seen it on either video or during the early days of ghetto cable. It's just a great movie. Not just a great horror movie. It's a great story and terrifying concept. A group of regular guys just doing their jobs are confronted by a monster that can take any shape or identity in one of the deadliest and isolated environments on Earth. Brilliant and at it's core, a very simple concept. The movie still holds up and like a great book or comic book, it gets better with every viewing. The effects, the pacing, the cast are all great.”
- Alvarado/Darthbx of Devil’s Advocates Movie Reviews

“Aah, The Thing. Thanks to my horror friendly parents and their horror friendly friends, I saw this back in the 80s when I was around 11 years old. Special effects to me at this age meant a bit of blood on Christopher Lee's mouth, so this was something of an eye-opener! Right from the start this was clearly going to be a high point in my young life, but once that dog’s head split four ways it became a defining moment. I can watch this film again and again, and it will never cease to amaze me. John Carpenter may have erred since, but to me he will always be a star.”
- Dave McGuigan

“When I was nine and reading in Fangoria that he was redoing The Thing I went crazy, especially knowing that Snake Plissken would be in it. I begged my dad to take me to the drive in on opening day. When the credits rolled I was in the back of my dad's pick up truck... and I told myself... that is what I want to do with my life. It was a turning point. Because of Carpenter's Thing I went on to study film at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook Em') and earned my BS in Radio-TV-Film. Since then, I have worked and made many films. The rest is history. I don't think Carpenter and Bottin realized during production just how much of an impact this film would be on filmmakers in years to come.”
- Mr. Newerbeg

“I was 11 when I saw The Thing at the Las Vegas Drive In. I loved it of course. I consider it my 2nd favorite movie of all time behind Alien. Really you can't see a horror movie set in snow without wishing a Thing Creature is lurking around. Also, out of all the sci fi horror monsters out there, The Thing creeps me out the most. The Thing is one of those monsters that would be near unstoppable. You just couldn't beat it in real life. Fantastic, incredible, and completely possible. Terrifying.”
- Metal Alien of Outpost 31

“To this day it still bothers me. The fact that something can take control over you just bugs me. Also how isolated they were”
- Patrick Johns

So you can see how The Thing has impacted all our lives and inspired us in some cases. But what do the people who worked on the film have to say? I grabbed a few quotes that I think really typifies how great this movie is.

“It’s also, basically, the lack of trust that’s in the world now. We see it all over. Countries, people – we don’t trust each other anymore. We don’t know who to trust. We’re with somebody that we think maybe they’re our loved ones and they may attack us. That’s what The Thing is.”
- John Carpenter, Director

“It’s a good film, and it’ll survive for that reason.”
- John Lloyd, Production Manager

“Any makeup effects guy in the world that you talk to will say, ‘I got into that business because of that movie. Because of John Carpenter, because of Rob Bottin’s brilliant makeup effects.”
- Greg Nicotero

I also want to thank the two people that contributed, be it on purpose or coincidence, to The Thing Week. Thanks guys!

Midnight Movie of the Week #25 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
from the blog: From Midnight With Love

The Thing
from the blog: Obscure Emotion

Ultimately all good things must come to an end and this is the end of The Thing Week. I hope you, my fellow Islanders, had a great time reading my numerous Thing posts. I’m thinking about doing another Thing Week in a few months time so if you have any suggestions or remarks on this week, please feel free to tell me.

As a great film once said, “Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!”

The Thing Week: A Review by Death Rocker

I also had the pleasure of finding somebody on Outpost 31 to contribute their review and experience with The Thing and they gave me something that was above and beyond what I had wanted. It was very entertaining and very detailed and it shows how The Thing impacted our lives for the better. This review is courtesy of William Bordt aka Death Rocker of Outpost 31.

It was a dark and unsettling night. I had finally found a copy of The Thing on VHS at the local Blockbuster. Having been obsessed with (along with playing non-stop) the video game that had recently been released last August, I was more than excited to see what had inspired such a fascinating, yet horrifying theme for an alien entity. I turned off the lights, closed the blinds, and slipped the tape in. The credits casually appeared onscreen, displaying name after name as unsettling, and downright creepily atmospheric music slowly, but surely, creeped in. The UFO spiraled towards planet Earth at breakneck speed, and soon the destruction set in.

I was shocked, and at the same time confused to see a sniper shooting at a poor husky for the intro sequence. As the spooky Norwegian was quickly taken care of by Garry, the movie started out with a generally mellow cast of characters. Unbeknown to their inevitable fate, they set out to the abandoned Norwegian outpost to retrieve what is essentially a living, breathing, alien entity, and bring it back for observation. As Childs and Palmer light up their doobie, I am comforted by examining the quite, peaceful lives of these Antarctic researchers at nightfall. Soon, the newcomer is sent into the pound with all the rest of the dogs...

Now, The Thing was the first horror movie I ever actually saw from beginning to end, so needless to say that when that..."thing" began to break out and morph into what was essentially a slob of organic meat, and when that head turned to growl at Macready and Childs as if it were unstoppable, I felt the biggest chill slither down my spine that I will never again forget the feel of for as long as I will live to see the scene again and again.

The rest of the film turned out to be equally memorable and incredibly atmospheric, with an outstanding group of performances from Kurt Russell, Keith David, and Tom Waites, and the other hold up just as well in a claustrophobic, insanely frightening location. But what was possibly the best form of cinematography and direction in the history of horror cinema was the sequencing of the break-out scenes with the Nauls-thing and the Palmer-thing. Possibly more than anyone else in the industry of special effects, Rob Bottin revolutionized gore in sci-fi/horror movies when Doc's hands burst through the big man's chest, and subsequently had his arms severed and chewed up by a "stomach-mouth" that would soon enough protrude a metamorphic shape of Nauls' assimilated facial structures, all the while his original "head" disattaches from the neck, forming its own separate entity. "You gotta be fuckin' kidding!" Instant classic.

And Palmer-thing? They couldn't have pulled off the blood test scene any better. Words cannot describe, precisely, what the human emotions go through whenever watching David Clennon's face morph into the kinds of demons we see in our nightmares, only to perform what almost looks like sexual intercourse in the exact opposite form to a poor, scared-to-death Windows, coming face-to-face with his own fate.

It's only after the eventual climax of Macready and the Blair-monster, when the entire base goes up in flames and Mac is left to die of hypothermia when Childs suspiciously shows up at the last second, that The Thing demonstrates awesome use of atmosphere and tension in a remarkable sci-fi/horror film. The viewer is left to ponder what will happen to the only two remaining members of the doomed team of researchers; and more importantly, who's human. This question goes left unanswered as the credits roll to the doomy and heavily atmospheric music that closes this epic horror movies short, but downright enticing storyline.

Many horror films have gone down in history as the best in their genre throughout what many consider the heyday of the movie industry, at least in terms of production values (1970-1989). Alien, The Exorcist, The Shining, Poltergeist, and even Carpenter's own Halloween, have all gained cultural significance as some of not only the best horror movies ever made, but some of the greatest movies ever, period. It's about damn time The Thing is added to that list. Perhaps more than any other film of its time, The Thing took atmosphere, tension, and drama in horror films, and not only utilized it, but took it to a whole other level. It's nothing short of a crying shame to know that this masterpiece did so poorly in the box office at the time of its release, even if it was because of somewhat bad timing (Blade Runner and E.T., two other very similar movies were released all within the same week of June 1982.) But The Thing will remain quite an anomaly among the horror scene, and it will continue to be honored as John Carpenter's true perfection of his own work.

The Thing Week: A Review By Kevin Carr

I had the extreme pleasure of having Kevin Carr, a film critic for the website A Fat Guy at the Movies, contribute his review and his experience with John Carpenter's The Thing. Now, to kind of be fair I will provide a review from a pretty well known online film source and an average movie watching Joe. So now I present to you, Kevin's account of The Thing!

When I was a in about the first grade, my father took me to several community screenings of classic science fiction movies, including “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “Village of the Damned” and “The Thing from Another World.” I loved all three and (with the exception of “Damned”), I eagerly watched the remakes as soon as I was able to.

But John Carpenter’s “The Thing” was more than a remake. It went back to the original source material (which was greatly improved upon with the film adaptation, something exceedingly rare in movies) and became its own film, as if it were an original. Because I was only eleven when “The Thing” came out (and VCRs were still new technology back then), I didn’t get a chance to see it until I was in high school. So late one night, I caught it as a rental with a buddy of mine. We were enthralled with it. It was shocking, gory, terrifying and at times hilarious.

To this day, even after not seeing each other for years, my buddy and I can look at each other and say, “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding...” and we’ll break out into laughter.

For the better part of three decades, I revisit “The Thing” on DVD now and again, and I am impressed each time. With the exception of some outdated computer monitors and chess programs, this film is as close to being timeless as a movie can be. The effects hold up for the most part, and I challenge even the best effects wizards of the day to achieve the same level of terror with traditional latex and fake blood that Rob Bottin managed back in 1982.

A few years back, I started a tradition of watching the movie, not during the Halloween season but rather on Christmas Eve while I wrap my kids’ presents. It’s a strange tradition, I’ll admit, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. I can watch that movie over and over again and always love it. “You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kidding,” you say? Well, I swear this isn’t voodoo bullshit.

The Thing Week: The Thing Game Retrospective

Since I have not played The Thing game, I figured that I would let Barry from Zombie Command take the helm on this post. So, I hope you enjoy and thanks Barry for helping me out!

I don't remember when I first watched The Thing; I vaguely recall watching it when I was younger, or at least I have the impression I saw the dog scene before I can remember the full film, but by the time I was in my mid-late teens and getting into movies it was definitely a favourite and one that I have strong memories discussing with my other film critical friends.

Indeed I have fond recollections of many John Carpenter films. With so many clasics it's hard to say which I saw first but I do remember getting a free movie soundtrack CD on the front of some sort of film magazine which had the theme to Assault on Precinct 13 and Halloween on it, and listening to them, enraptured with how perfectly they set the tone of the film (and also how very 80's they were). Surprisingly though, Carpenter didn't score The Thing.

In fact, such was the impact of The Thing that one of the first DVDs I bought was the limited edition version back in early 1999 (the first one was Playboy's The Best of Jenny McCarthy, which I owned a full year before I bought a DVD player, and is still one of my favourite comedies). Along with Aliens "That's in the room man", it had one of the most quoted by me lines during my late formative year: "You gotta be fucking kidding".

So, at some point in 2002 - 2003 there I was in Game looking down at The Thing video game on PS2. Promises to continue the story and some decent reviews encouraged me to lay down the £17 required to purchase and take home the game and boy, was it worth it.

The Thing is a survival horror game (how could it be anything else!) in the same vein as the original Resident Evil games, right down to saving the game on a tape recorder (although at least you don't have to find ribbons). Set just hours after the events of the film, players control Blake, a soldier sent to investigate the incident.

The promises of adding to the world of The Thing were quickly fulfilled. Players encounter Childs' mutilated body and are led down to the UFO that Blair was building. After planting some more C4 and destroying the facility utterly Blake is dropped off at another facility to try and find out why Alpha Team aren't responding.

Ultimately the player would uncover that The Thing was still alive, that the government was aware of it and experimenting on the alien lifeform and then has to fight their way through black ops and Things to make a daring escape aided by helicopter pilot... MacReady!

What made The Thing different to other survival horror games of the time (and since) was the trust mechanic. Players had to keep the trust of their team mates, which is difficult since the game made it possible for any one of them to be infected. To gain their trust players could give them a (already scarce) weapon and keep them close at all times. Of course the game forces the player to sometimes be away from the squad mates, resulting in distrust and fear.

Players would also have to measure team mates sanity; exposure to mutilated bodies and alien life forms does not sit well with some people. If a team mate goes off the deep end, they would often run away, start firing at the team (forcing you to kill them) or commit suicide. Of course the Thing plays into that and tries to get the player to keep it near and hand over weapons, meaning that it was often impossible to tell who was infected or not. Killing a human team mate thinking it was a Thing would almost certainly meant that the remaining members would think they were infected.

Graphically The Thing still looks good. I got it for PC and was pleasantly surprised by how well it holds up for an 8 year old game. The characters and locations are still quite sharp and the flame effects are still impressive.

The majority of the game is exploration, combat and puzzles, all of which are executed nicely, and the controls seem better on PC than they did on the PlayStation although were still sometimes a little imprecise.

The Thing plays as you'd hope it would, expounding on the world and as a bonus I believe that it is canon in the Carpenter Thing universe. For fans it's a must play if you can get a hold of it, serving nicely as an end another chapter of the story and with the prequel due out in April 2011 how could you not want more of The Thing.

ZC Barry is an 80's child who on occasion, gets to see the odd film without and zombies in it. To read more of his writing head over to

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Thing Week: Ice from The X-Files

As many of you know I am a huge X-Files fan and well before I even started The Thing Week I went through all the seasons of the show and watched every episode. One episode I cam across in the first season stood out because it reminded me of The Thing and that episode is called ‘Ice.’ Low and behold, ‘Ice’ was a direct adaptation, of sorts, of The Thing as well as Who Goes There? The episode was very well-received by X-Files fans however, though I thought it was good… I don’t think it’s one of the best episodes of the season.

The basis of writing this episode came from Glen Morgan who read about a group of men in Greenland that dug up something in the ice that was about 200,000 plus years old. For Thing fans, it’s easy to see where the episode borrowed from The Thing and Who Goes there and Carter (Creator of The X-Files) himself stated that his biggest influence was The Thing. The basic concept of the episode is about Mulder, Skully, three scientists and a helicopter pilot trapped in an isolated research station with a parasitic alien worm that uses the human body as a host. The episode relies on trust and paranoia to make the audience feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic.

While looking up some information on Ice’s relation to The Thing I found a few interesting facts that Carter put in to make this 45 minute tribute complete. While looking through the credits of the episode I noticed a character named Campbell, which I initially thought was a tribute to John W. Campbell and my speculation was correct. Graeme Murray designed the complex in which the episode took place and coincidently he designed the entire complex in Carpenter’s The Thing. This next observation is not really backed up but is more of a personal observation; Dr. Hodge (played by Xander Berkeley) bares a striking resemblance to Palmer (played by David Clennon) in The Thing.

‘Ice’ does a great job showing the intense paranoia between all the people in the complex. It manages to keep that tension between people in such a short amount of time. The complex is also very claustrophobic and with the mentioning of the heat, it makes the audience member get psychologically hot as they are trying to figure out who is who. I absolutely enjoyed the characters and I was pretty depressed that Bear died because he seemed like the strong character in the beginning. Hell, the episode didn’t really have that much gore and still accomplished a surreal and nightmarish reality. I think the problem that I had was the pacing; it just seemed a little off and ultimately made the episode a little rushed.

Much like The Thing, The X-Files uses science to explain how things work with the parasitic worm and the explanation is so fascinating but the only difference is that the worm is a little less aware than the Thing. To me, like many other times, it’s very interesting to see the roots of The Thing as well as Who Goes There extend into other sci-fi and horror realms.

"Before anyone passes judgment, may I remind you, we are in the Arctic"
- Fox Mulder

The Thing Week: In Memorium

With The Thing reaching it’s 30th anniversary, I thought it would be nice to take a look back and reflect on some of the most talented people who passed away since the movie opened. It’s always sad when somebody great dies and it’s even sadder when that person is connected to something that you truly cherish. If it weren’t for these people, The Thing would have never made it past the ‘idea’ stage and if it did, it wouldn’t have been what it is today. Here are some of the great people who worked on The Thing that passed away since then. They truly will be missed.

Bill Lancaster
(1947 – 1997)
Screenwriter, The Thing

John W. Campbell Jr.
(1910 – 1976)
Writer, Who Goes There?

Charles Hallahan
(1943 – 1997)
Actor, ‘Norris,’ The Thing

(1977 – 1995)
Actor, ‘The Dog Thing,’ The Thing

Stan Winston
(1946 – 2008)
SFX on Kennel Scenes, The Thing

Albert Whitlock
(1915 – 1999)
Special Visual Effects, The Thing

Mentor C. Huebner
(1917 – 2001)
Production Illustrator
Conceptual storyboard artist, The Thing

Wilbur Stark
(1912 – 1995)
Executive Producer, The Thing

Henry Larrecq
(1910 – 2005)
Art Director, The Thing

Warren Hamilton Jr.
(1933 – 2009)
Sound Effects Editor, The Thing

All of these men had since worked on other great movies and TV shows following The Thing and led really great lives. They will be missed but they will not be forgotten.

Credit for this article must be given to Outpost 31 since they came up with the concept originally. I just added my own touch to it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Thing Week: Knick-Knacks and Things

Today’s post will be more or less filler but also very relevant to The Thing Week. See, The Thing has a massive cult following like horror movies often do. And like horror movies it has it’s own line of figurines and knick-knacks on the market. Of course, it’s very interesting to see just how popular a movie is based on the line of parody knick-knacks and accessories that are released. I’m sure there are other toys and accessories out there that I am missing but these are just some of the ones that I found both amusing and pretty cool looking.

The Thing was also feature in issues #72 of Rue Morgue Magazine with a nifty looking cover depicting the Norris Thing. Inside they have interviews with John Carpenter, Rob Bottin, Kurt Russell and Keith David.

And of course you have accessories.

The above shirt is courtesy of Fright Rags with very detailed artwork again showing the Norris Thing. If you are interested in purchasing this shirt, please head to Fright Rags here.

Again, I know I am missing a lot more but these are what I can find on such short notice. Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Thing Week: A Tribute to Albert Whitlock

As many horror fans will know, Albert Whitlock did the matte artwork for The Thing and his career expands into the realm of Alfred Hitchock and other films like Hindenburg, Earthquake and Dune. Albert was an Academy Award and Emmy winning visual effects artist and I want to showcase his brilliant matte artwork in Carpenter’s The Thing. I would say that he was one of the most important figures in film. He died in 1999 from Parkinson’s disease.

“It really was one of the shining periods of my career that I got to watch Albert (Whitlock) at work and watch him do all his magic.”
- Todd Ramsay, Film Editor

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Thing Week: The Beauty of Puppets

“His THING depends on its special effects, which are among the most elaborate, nauseating, and horrifying sights yet achieved by Hollywood's new generation of visual magicians. There are times when we seem to be sticking our heads right down into the bloody, stinking maw of the unknown, as the Thing transforms itself into creatures with the body parts of dogs, men, lobsters, and spiders, all wrapped up in gooey intestines. THE THING is a great barf-bag movie… “

- Roger Ebert

One of the biggest differences between the original and the remake of Who Goes There is special effects. It’s undisputable to state that what made the remake so good was the special effects done by Rob Bottin and Stan Winston and it’s something that The Thing is famous for having. However, most people never took the time to actually observe the puppetry and the special effect but I can’t blame them. But there is a science behind the special effects and the puppetry, a method to the madness if you will that made it possible to gross the audience out. It’s one of the greatest examples of modern practical effects.

As stated by Stan Winston, the mass of dog imitation that the group burns seems like a mass of meat for lack of a better word but the humps and the globs of skin are actually influenced by the human body structure. In essence, they built the dog/alien puppet around the human body so that it could be easier for the puppeteer to be in. After the group burns the dog Thing they observe the dead mutilated body of it and if you really stand back and look at it… you can’t deny that it’s one of the most beautiful yet haunting pieces of film art.

As the film progress, the effects and the gore become more and more exposed. The dog scene was the first big effect in the movie and you didn’t really see much of the whole thing because most of it was in shadows. The next big effect would be the Norris Thing exploding and that was in full light but it was photographed in parts and you still didn’t see the entire thing. When you finally do see the full Thing (the Blair Thing) it’s in full exposure but still in a soft light. Carpenter gradually builds up the tension and the ‘hype’ before he goes all out. Funny, Carpenter thought that the effects would look too corny so he was very hesitant in showing the puppetry just like how Hawks didn’t think people would take to Arness being the Thing so he shot him in dim nourish lighting.

Even if you are one of those horror fans that loves all the CGI effects you cannot argue that the puppetry and the claymaition in this film is simply mesmerizing. You can’t take your eyes off of it and especially for that time it was revolutionary. One of the other clever things that Carpenter does is that he doesn’t waste time getting into the horror of the situation. Most films have a slow burn with a gradual incline in horror and suspense. Carpenter creates a slow burn film then spanks you over the head with dog mutilation.

“It set a standard for special effects.”
- Charles Hallahan, Actor (Norris)

“The imaging and the special effects on the creature work hold up to this day even in the light of the fact that there are computer graphics and things now. And I think part of the reason for that is that you just can’t beat wild imagination… you just can’t pierce through the magic.”
- Rob Bottin, Special Effects Make-Up

“... and it’s all practical. You couldn’t even find computers to find porn back then.”
- Mike & Ike

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Thing Week: Ode To The Original

The Thing from Another World
debuted in 1951 and generated a slew of positive reviews and comments but people back then didn’t realize that this little sci-fi film would cause so many inspirations and open the door to a new style of filmmaking. It also sparked a huge controversy over who really directed the film as opposed to who is listed under the credits. From what went from a short story to one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time to becoming one of the greatest horror films of all time, The Thing From Another World aka Who Goes There has a brilliant track record.

Who Goes There found it’s way into Astonishing Stories in 1938 and it found its way into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. It was adapted in 1950 by Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby. However, a controversy sparked when the director was credited to Christian Nyby and not Howard Hawks. It’s easy to see the Hawks style filmmaking throughout the film but yet Nyby apparently directed and edited it. It’s a debate that has been circulating around sci-fi and horror fans alike and it has been speculated that Hawks let Nyby take the credit so that he can gain Directors Guild recognition. Some people say that Nyby directed but he was kept under strict restraints by Hawks, either way it seems like Hawks is getting the credit.

However, the legacy of The Thing From Another World is the filmmaking style, which was coined by Hawks. There were elements in the film that had never been seen before in a sci-fi film and those included the tight editing, the witty dark humor, and the overlapping dialogue, the reoccurring them of man vs. nature that Hemingway pioneered and the role of men in terms of taking action instead of talking. These aspects would later be seen in some of Hawks’ other films as well as films from modern day directors. The roots of some of the best sci-fi horror films trail all the way back to The Thing From Another World. That film opened the door to sci-fi films as well as alien and sci-fi subcultures and if it weren’t for that film, studios would have been hesitant to release 1953’s War of the Worlds.

This film inspired a few films directly both in the early days of filmmaking and in the modern era of film. In 1966 Francis Lyon brought us Destination Inner Space, which was a direct adaptation of The Thing From Another World only this time it took place underwater instead of in the Arctic. In 1958 It! The Terror From Beyond Space was released and took the paranoia and the claustrophobia of The Thing and made it a near space odyssey. Ridley Scott as stated that The Thing From Another World was one of is influences for Alien as well as It! But I think Roger Ebert states this concept in a better way:

“Its most obvious influence is Howard Hawks’ ‘The Thing’ (1951), which was also about a team in an isolated outpost who discover a long-dormant alien, bring it inside, and are picked off one by one as it haunts the corridors. Look at that movie, and you see ‘Alien’ in embryo.”
- Roger Ebert

The idea of a group or a team of people fighting off a dangerous predatory alien in a confined or secluded place is all too familiar within the sci-fi and horror realm. It doesn’t even have to be an alien but rather a stalker or a killer. Films like Predator or even Halloween both have these aspects and especially Friday the 13th. It took the ‘red herring’ shock that Hawks Incorporate in this film to the extreme. The teens would open all the doors not finding anything until the last door only to find the killer standing there. It’s arguable that even if a film doesn’t directly credit The Thing From Another World as an influence, it inadvertently credits it by using Hawks’ technique. In fact, films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ironically E.T. were influenced by the ’51 classic.

The film, in 2001, made it into the National Film Preservation Board and was labeled ‘culturally significant.’

Further Reading:
The Thing From Another World on DVD Journal
America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies
1950's Sci-Fi on Time Magazine
The Thing From Another Wold on Time Magazine

The Thing From Another World aka The Thing on Moria
Alien (1979) on

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Thing Week: My Childhood Encounter

I want to kick off the week with my personal experience with The Thing and why it is the scariest movie I ever saw and how it shaped me into the horror fan that I was. As many of you know and are aware about, I have told this story many times before so it might seem like old hat but as I watched The Thing again I thought really hard about that day and I’m going to tell you in detail about my experience with Carpenter’s classic… The Thing

September 1998
I was 8-years-old when I first saw The Thing and you have understand, before I even thought about renting R-rated horror movies I was only exposed to Goosebumps but in literature and on Fox Kids. The worst horror movie I saw at that time was Night of the Living Dead and to my 8-year-old brain it wasn’t that scary but it had its moments. Well, I was pretty high on my horse and I thought I could watch any horror movie so I went to the library with my dad and grabbed The Thing and The Blob ’88 and my dad warned me that I would be sorry that I did that. This was even before I got into Stephen King and his books.

When I got back to my grandma’s house I was quick to put the VHS tape into the player and I sat down on the floor and began to watch. At the time, it was rather boring and slow-paced and I didn’t like it. I sat there yawning, waiting for something to happen and that’s when the dog’s head split open. My eyes widened and I watched that dog mutilate all the other dogs in the kennel as it roared right at the camera. I screamed. I turned off the TV and I sat there, alone, silent, on the floor… so scared that I didn’t even want to move. I didn’t even want to pull the VHS out of the tape deck. I felt shivers run down my spine. I sat there for about 30 or 40 minutes, trying to process what I just witnessed.

Later that night, I was so petrified from seeing that mass of dog kill the rest of the dogs that I couldn’t sleep. That roar, that hideous grotesque face, the fact that it was so dark, the tentacles and the carnage. I was so scared that I had to have my dad sleep with me, specifically on the edge of the bed just in case the Thing ever attacked me. I was selfish back then. I remember for that entire week I was scared of the storage rooms at my grandma’s condo because of the fear that The Thing influenced on me. Looking down hallways meant me hallucinating the Dog Thing at the end of it screaming in pain and fear. I’d never get that image out of my head.

However, what I did for me as a horror fan was help me in my gradual incline to watching more frightening material. I loved getting scared and I knew that there wasn’t any movie or book that could have been scarier as that film so I decided to take it down a notch and work my way up to The Thing Standard. I started with The X-Files, worked my way through B-grade horror movies, then to Stephen King books, past the slashers and finally at the age of 12 I watched The Thing in it’s entirety. I reached my goal and I broke the Thing Standard. I conquered my fear of that movie and I conquered my fear of the dark, my fear of dogs (which was a combo of The Thing and The X-Files), my fear of gore and my fear of monsters. I realized that after that film, I could watch anything.

The Thing helped me in other areas as well when I was a kid. To channel out my fear I began to draw pictures of the Dog Thing so I worked on my art skills; I even drew pictures of the famous opening credits where ‘The Thing’ burned into the frame. I would reenact my own take on the rest of the film after the kennel scene with my friend. I would be MacReady and my friends would be the rest of the team and we had to battle the dog monster before it took over the world. To me it wasn’t just a movie, it was an inspiration and it was one of the first movies that I pointed to and said, “I want to make movies just like that.” The only other two movies that I did that to were Jurassic Park and Titanic. That’s what The Thing means to me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Thing Week Starts Tomorrow!

Well, folks… tomorrow is the beginning of my week-long tribute to John Carpenter’s The Thing and I have been writing articles like crazy for it. I know a few people have contributed to the article I will be posting at the end of the week but I have a very nice lineup for all of you. Again, if you want to participate in the fun you can do so but please email me your article URL so that I can post it up at the recap. I’m actually very excited for this because I’m testing this week-long tribute stuff since a lot of bloggers have been doing it. If you want to contribute to the recap post, please feel free to write an article (no more than 250 words) on how The Thing has influenced your childhood or how it influenced you as a horror fan.

Thank you!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hyper Horror Movies

I’ve never been into movies that use hyper editing and hyper acting to make it scarier or more adrenaline filled. Movies like the remake of Day of the Dead and more recently Pandorum suffer from this technique that makes me want to close my eyes but the only difference is that Day of the Dead is an awful movie and Pandorum is actually quite decent. Personally for me, I think hyper anything in a horror movie just takes away from the mood and the scare tactics and makes it seem as though it should be a game instead of a film and ultimately ruining the experience for me. But Pandorum, compared to most hyper movies isn’t that bad but I still hated the hyper reality that it created.

Throughout Pandorum the editing is so choppy and almost as though it was adapted from the Bourne series, not to mention the sped-up performances of the cannibals scaling the walls and the ground on all fours. I understand where they are coming from when it comes to creating this hyper reality and their intentions are good but this technique is ultimately silly looking and takes away from the rest of the movie. Pandorum is a great film atmospherically and had they skipped on the hyper reality of it, it could have been pretty frightening. But as I stated before, most hyper horror movies fall completely because they rely too much on this technique to keep their film afloat.

With films like Graduation Day, the remake of Day of the Dead, House of the Dead, Resident Evil and The Decent (to name a few), they all use fast-paced editing and sped-up motion to create a sense of shock and disorientation. I’m not sure why this technique worked in The Decent and why it failed in every other movie but I guess I’d have to rewatch it and look closely at it. With Graduation Day, it was the editing that made the film seem like it was an acid trip and only added to the corniness of the film. House of the Dead and Resident Evil were based on video games so I guess their reasoning was to follow in the footsteps in creating an adrenaline action horror film. Day of the Dead… was just stupid.

I don’t think horror movies need to have a hyper reality to create a sense of disorientation, paranoia and confusion… ‘cause honestly I think this technique is sort of an easy way out. I think it’s a terrible trend in horror movies, mainly because I’m old school horror. Pandorum had the best space atmosphere since alien and it had the potential to deviate from the videogame-looking realm but instead it’s action sequences seemed laughable and bland. Pardon this random rant on hyper horror movies but it can get annoying at times.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Hell is repetition..."

So I finally got my hype fix by watching the critically acclaimed indie movie Triangle, which was very much a mind-fuck of a movie. However, as the film progressed and the story began to unfold I could not help but think of a quote that was taken from an old TV mini series known as Storm of the Century:


“Hell is repetition.”
- Andre Linoge

I absolutely love this quote and I think that it fits well with Triangle even though the two are not even related. I could not imagine being caught in a repetitive nightmare or much less being caught in a situation where no matter what you do, you can’t save the people you love. Though Triangle is a mindbender of a film… the real horror of this thriller is being stuck on a constant record loop.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Thing Week Coming Soon to Paradise of Horror

If you have been following me on Twitter I’ve been announcing, here and there, a little blogathong that I will be doing that was inspired by several other blogathons (most notably Romero Week at Freddy In Space). This blogathon will be one week long and will focus on my number 1 favorite horror movie of all time… John Carpenter’s epic horror remake The Thing. The event will hopefully take place on June 21st and end on June 27th. During the coarse of the entire week and weekend I will be talking about certain aspects of the film as well as the film in pop culture, and I will end in a post that deals with the horror community and that’s where YOU come into play.

You see, I want the horror community to share with me some of their personal stories while watching The Thing and they can range from how it felt the first time you saw the film, to how it affected you as a child to how it influenced you as a horror fan. The Thing was not a box office success but to us horror fans it’s one of the most important pieces of horror history and especially remake history. So, if you want to help me out… you can send me you stories in written format to the email listed below. Each story should be no more than 200 words and it will go in the concluding post at the end of the week.

If you do not want to participate in contributing to the concluding post you can take part in the event in another way; you can write up a post on your own blog or website about The Thing… that way the event can spread around from blog to blog just like the virus in the film. Also, if you want to contribute a logo for the event you are free to do so, otherwise I’ll just use the one that I created.

So… have at it. I am hoping that this will be a fun little event for me on a personal level and I hope the same for all my readers and all the participants.

Email me at:

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Not So Shining Children

I wasn’t a huge fan of The Children when I first saw the movie although I thought it was a pretty solid and original horror film in light of all the remakes and all sequels. However, after I saw it again and I found myself not liking it as much as I initially did and I also noticed that there are a lot of “Kubrickian” techniques that Shankland uses to make the audience scared or uneasy. I thought for a while what these elements were and why they didn’t work in The Children but worked in The Shining and I think I have found out why. Before I even get into why they didn’t work, or should I say why some of them didn’t work, I want to talk a little about what those elements were in the film.

In The Children, there are a couple of shots, accompanied by the score that were very reminiscent of The Shining. There were several shots of the children standing in one position as the camera slowly zooms in on them, while the score gets progressively tenser and tenser… but then it abruptly stops with no scares whatsoever. Much like in The Shining when the camera slowly gets closer and closer to Jack staring out of the window, loosing his mind, then cuts to a title card of ‘Tuesday’ with no jump-scare whatsoever. The technique was used several times within The Children to show that the kids are evil as opposed to going insane or possessed by evil spirits.

I also think that The Children is trying to create a sense of isolation as did The Shining and both stories take place during the winter time so the fact that everything is cold and barren plays into the way the film should feel. The Children had two different tones that I recognized: the cold and bitter tone of the outside and the stale worn out tone of the inside of the house.

The problem with using the technique of zooming in on somebody while the music intensifies is this movie is that it doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. The rest of the film is loud, abrupt and the action sequences are edited and shot quickly… so these slow tracking shots just seem weird and out of place. Whereas in The Shining, the whole movie is a slow-burn movie that progresses to a climax, much like the soundtrack and the way Jack descends into insanity. But, this technique doesn’t always fail; in fact it succeeds at the end of the film when we realize that Casey is infected. It’s the fact that the shots don’t fit well with the rest of the movie and to me; all they amounted to was more noise. Sometimes they even seemed as though they were visual non-sequiturs.

The tone and the ‘color’ of the film also didn’t quite fit with the rest of the film, if that makes any sense. Every color is so dry and stale, which is fine but because the rest of the movie is all over the place and so loud… it seems as though the tone doesn’t fit with how the movie is loudly progressing forward. I think it’s hard for me to explain this specific problem because it’s how I literally felt towards the film. Movies like The Shining or even The Thing are slow burn movies that have a very rich atmosphere to them because it starts up very slow and progresses to a huge climax.

The Children is not a bad film at all. Compared to most horror movies, it’s pretty original and it had its freaky moments but there are certain elements that fail at delivering a certain emotion because they don’t fit with other film elements. I’m not sure if The Shining was an inspiration to this film or not but it’s an element that I noticed right away. If The Shining wasn’t an inspiration or if the director wasn’t trying to homage Kubrick, then these shots and atmospheres would still seem weird in the rest of the movie.