Sunday, June 27, 2010

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.


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