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Focus on the Frightful: The Thing

If you mention John Carpenter’s The Thing you will find some very strong feelings on it. Very strong. Strong enough that you might wonder, if you haven’t seen it before, whether or not it lives up to the hype. Well, dear readers, we’re here to tell you it does.

A couple of weeks ago the Kali Krew had a group watch in our Kali Theatre of The Thing in our continuing movie run of The Hair Floof King Himself – Kurt Russell. Cory, Eliza and Tracy had not seen it. Lilyn, Sam and I had.

There were a lot of thoughts (and squeals and groans and oohs and ahhs) so, instead of speaking for them I’ll let them tell it in their words. Don’t worry. There are no spoilers.

I don’t think The Thing is ever going to get old. Even though it was made in the early 80s, it has aged very well. It’s a great watch, filled with moments that make you cringe in anticipation even though you know what is coming because you’ve seen it thirty times before. I love the fact that it doesn’t have a ton of music preparing me for every little thing that is about to happen. I wish more movies utilized that. The Thing is my go-to movie for talking about practical effects. The only thing that has really become laughable over time is the Chess Master game that Floofy McFlooferhair is playing in the beginning. Its a movie worth buying a physical copy of just so you can watch it again and again.

I will admit that after seeing how many people LOVE this movie, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t like it. Then I realized I hadn’t heard even ONE dissenting opinion. That’s a rarity in this day and age of “oh you loved that? Well, I didn’t”. So my fears were allayed. I needn’t have worried. Carpenter smashes this movie with badass special effects and a cast to be envied. Russell is very, as one Twitter user put it, “Russell-y”, and Carpenter shies away from none of the gore and guts. I loved it and now need all The Thing merchandise available.

The Thing is a legendary horror movie, and I feared viewing it for the first time. Would it live up to the hype?  The other question was whether or not I wanted it to. I am the household wuss, the one who watches scary movies with closed eyes. If this movie lived up to its reputation I was probably going to bury myself under blankets and plug my ears. The movie starts off with a helicopter flying across the snow, in pursuit of a dog. A man is shooting at the dog. His arrival at the American outpost in the Antarctic results in injury, chaos, and death. Things slowly unravel. When the dogs are attacked the team realizes it needs information and what they learn is disturbing. Aliens who landed thousands of years before have somehow survived and they can kill a dog or person and replicate their form.  It’s possible nobody is who they appear to be. Suspicion and distrust take hold as the death toll grows. I found myself on the edge of my seat, watching the interactions and clues to try to determine who was infected. My favorite part was the ending. Without giving it all away, I’ll just say I appreciate how gutsy it is to not fill in all the blanks. And in horror, often the unknown is what is most unnerving.

It holds up really well in tension and effects, and I wouldn’t have wanted to watch it alone, which is rare for me at this point. The Thing was like watching every survival horror game in the last twenty years or so. That’s probably true, and it’s obvious why. John Carpenter was at the peak of his game, I think, with The Thing. Every step of it is beautifully shot, well-acted, and a joy to watch.

The Thing still holds up so well and the effects still look sensational. It really gives the feeling of cold, bone-chilling isolation. Like Lilyn said, I love that the score is very subtle. The score is credited to Ennio Morricone, the same man who scored The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The Thing is much subtler but Morriconeknows how to score a movie right. As usual, Carpenter was heavily involved with the music direction, as well.

It is one of those rare movies that everyone seems to be able to agree on and that just works on all levels.

I avoided any pictures in this post because next week, dear friends, we’re going to be comparing The Thing (1982) to The Thing (2011). Let’s just say for as many thoughts as we have on The Thing (1982) we have many, many more on The Thing (2011). Check out next week to find out exactly what we thought of it and a movie-to-movie comparison.

Published inFocus on the Frightful


  1. Sorry, but you can’t beat the original. Try the 1951 version, unless you’re scared…

    • Lol, I have yet to see the original but I’ve heard the Thing described as a man-eating carrot so I definitely need to. I also want to read the story, as well

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