Friday, 26 July 2013

The Thing (1982)

The Thing, 1982, USA
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley & Keith David

''Why don't we just wait here for a while... see what happens''

I have this theory about John Carpenter's 'The Thing', I am damn near convinced that this is the least disliked film ever made. I'm not saying there aren't detractors if you look hard enough, unfortunately its the case with even the greatest of things (pun slightly intended) but I have never encountered a human being on earth who claims to even remotely dislikes 'The Thing' and who can blame them? The film is a bonafide masterpiece.

A group of scientist working from a secluded research center are thrust into paranoia after learning that one of them may be inhabited by a shape shifting alien.

I first saw 'The Thing' around about four years ago and I have been in love with it ever since. Coming into this film as a young and ignorant teen who really knew nothing about it only to sit through 109 minutes of pure atmospheric terror is really a one of kind experience. I can't really grasp the idea of audiences in 1982 not realizing the films greatness at the time, I know that it was basically the anti- E.T but this film should have been as critically lauded then as it is today, well at least we're making up for it now.

'The Thing' is undeniably one of the most terrifying film experiences ever created. Very few films have ever been able to replicate the tension and atmosphere that John Carpenter does here. Even with nothing but the sound of the snow outside the base camp, this film will keep you on edge. One of the films most incredible traits is its portrayal of paranoia. The way in which the characters trusts are lost and friendships disintegrate are simply enthralling to spectate. As the characters mindsets are being challenges so are the audiences allegiances to characters are to. Just like MacReady and the crew, we are as unaware of who The Thing as they are.

Then there are the visual effects. I have no qualms about saying that 'The Thing's effects are my favorite ever put on screen. I can not emphasize enough how well they hold up. These visuals are as horrifying today as I imagine they were at the time of the films release. There is just some kind of visceral thrill to these practical effects that the CGI today simply can not replicate. From the horrific sight of the mutated dog to the explosive climax, 'The Thing' is a visual effects masterclass, I can not truly do these visuals justice, they must be seen to be believed.

I am a big John Carpenter fan and it really is heartbreaking to admit that he had severe career downfall but what makes it even more heartbreaking is how great he truly was. The mans knack for creating nail biting suspense and an eerie atmosphere was just remarkable and the stars really aligned when he made this film, all great directors have at least that one great film that is the centerpiece of their legacy and although it has some steady competition with the likes of 'Halloween' & 'They Live', 'The Thing' really is Carpenter's magnum opus. It's almost like he could no wrong, artistically wise,  with this film and it results in the phenomenal experience we receive.

Yet another aspect of the films greatness is sound. On one hand we have the phenomenal theme by the legendary Ennio Morricone that does it's job perfectly in setting the tone of the film, the thuds that the theme provides sounds almost like heartbeats and establish the anxiety we are about to be in. The fact that Morricone's score was nominated for a Worst Musical Razzie is probably the most irritating tidbit of information I have ever heard, it's almost like if Stanley Kubrick got nominated for Worst Director for 'The Shining'...oh wait. In addition to the film's great score is the use of no music. The fact that Carpenter elects not to pipe in the score at unnecessary is a great move and it's even better when simply the sound of the snow storm on the outside of the base. 'The Thing' is a film that uses sound to its full advantage.

Sporting what is undoubtedly THE GREATEST BEARD IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND, Kurt Russell is the definition of badass as the awesome R.J MacReady. Seriously, Russell has to be one of the most likeable action heroes of all time and did I mention his beard in this? its perfect. Everybody in the cast does a really terrific job and completely sells the paranoia of the frightening situation they are put in, Wilford Brimley is excellent as Blair and Keith David is great as Childs.

To me, 'The Thing' is just a perfect film. Few films have ever reached the terror and suspense that Carpenter is able to here. 'The Thing' has always been in top 10 films of all time but after this viewing it has to have cracked my top 5.

P.S: That beard...


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