I’ve been pretty remiss keeping up with my ANOKS postings this past month as both work-life and home-life have ramped up. You know, just in time for the Holidays.
Kelly originally put “The Thing” in the “Animals Can Kill You” category, which is sort of a misnomer. Though since she didn’t have an “Aliens Aren’t All Friendly Like E.T.” category (which I think would be a good one for next year), we can work with it.
John Carpenter’s 1982 film “The Thing” is a modern masterpiece of horror. Kurt Russell plays the head of an American outpost in the Antarctic that comes across a destroyed neighboring Norwegian outpost, which had found something buried in the ice. Now, everyone is dead. Well, almost everyone. You see, they save a single sled dog…
“The Thing” excels because the isolating Antarctic environment and the cramped, well-worn outpost creates a palpable sense of isolation. And of course, we as the audience know that Very Bad Things are about to happen, and the dawning realization of the crew heightens the horror. This movie also works because the horror is dosed out in fair amounts of physical (the alien’s various transformations are repulsive) and psychological.
As the team begins to wonder who can be trusted and who can’t, Carpenter changes from audience-in-the-know to audience-doesn’t-know-either mode. Great, great movie. 10 stars out of 10.
But one of the things a lot of people may not know is that the film is actually based on a 1951 film “The Thing From Another World” and a short story from the 30s “Who Goes There?” (Carpenter’s version is truer to that source material). I hadn’t seen the 50s film in a while and so re-watched it for ANOKS. And, it is also a pretty taut, minimalist thriller.
In it, an American arctic team comes across a spaceship frozen in the ice and they find an inhabitant encased in ice. As you might imagine, the alien is (mistakenly) thawed and hilarity ensues. The film does a good job of pitting military, scientific and societal priorities against one another as the team tries to figure out how to deal with the marauding alien. 8 out of 10 stars.