April 20, 2013

22 Reasons Why THE THING is the Greatest Horror Movie of the 1980s

Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David. Directed by John Carpenter. (1982, 109 min).
1. This is one of the few remakes that is a lot better than the original.

2. While The Thing isn't always scary, the idea of an alien consisting of individual, free-acting cells with their own "built-in instinct to survive" is a terrifying concept to wrap your brain around.

3. Like Psycho, Night of the Living Dead and The Exorcist, The Thing showed us horrors we'd never seen onscreen before.

4. From beginning to end, this is arguably the most unpredictable horror film ever made.

5. Snake Plissken notwithstanding, character development was never one of Carpenter's strengths. But that actually works in The Thing's favor. Because everyone is so generic & bland, we never know who's still human and who's the thing.

6. We finally got to see what John Carpenter could do with a large budget. This was also his last truly great film.

7. In 1982, mostly thanks to Steven Spielberg, it had been a long time since visiting aliens were not-so-friendly.

8. It had the balls to end ambiguously. The Thing has the greatest open-ended finale of any horror movie in history. And Hollywood has so-far been smart enough to know not to fuck it up with a direct sequel.

9. Screenwriter Bill Lancaster (Burt's son) only wrote three screenplays during his short life. His first was The Bad News Bears, and that expletive-loaded screenplay was one of the biggest reasons the film was a hit. Today, if there is any part of The Thing which is still woefully under-appreciated, it's Lancaster's script, which manages to effectively establish these characters’ individual personalities with a minimum of casual dialogue.

10. This was easily the most graphically violent movie ever released by a major studio at the time.

11. For a horror movie, it has aged remarkably well. Whether or not they were around back then, people tend to look back many movies from the 80s with their tongues in their cheeks and an attitude of "look how silly we were." But The Thing belies the decade from which it sprang. For those of you still doubting, try watching it today with someone who doesn't know how old it is.

12. Thirty years later, the title creature is still one of the ugliest, slimiest and nastiest movie monsters of all time.

13. The "blood test" scene is a high-tension masterpiece. And despite all the slimy, goopy horrors we'd witnessed up to this point, it's the most cringe-worthy and disturbing scene in the whole film.

14. Kurt Russell's best performance. In fact, the entire cast is the best John Carpenter ever worked with.

15. Ol' Wilford Brimley kicks-ass & kills people.

16. Keith David is the original black, bald, bad-ass. In a perfect world, he would be an action movie superstar right now.

17. Antarctica is the ultimate setting for a bleak & brutal horror film.

18. Within just a few minutes, we already get the feeling everyone is doomed.

19. The Thing is a smart movie that doesn't depend on characters behaving stupidly to advance the plot (not a single horny teenager to be found). Everyone makes logical survival decisions & develops reasonable ideas on how to combat the thing. The fact that none of it works adds to the hopelessness of their struggle.

No! Not the dog!

20. When Russell shoots a hapless pooch just to put it out of its misery, we know we were in for a dark, nihilistic ride that isn't gonna pull any punches.

21. Like The Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club and Blade Runner, The Thing initially tanked in theaters, but is now considered an all-time classic.

22. It is so iconic that when Hollywood finally got around to 'rebooting' it, they wisely chose to do a prequel with the exact same title. While 2011's The Thing isn't nearly as good, it is a well-intentioned, big-budget love letter made by people who not only hold the original in the highest regard, but respect the fans who made it a classic. Not only that, it ingeniously connects the two films at the end, including the use of Ennio Morricone's (underrated) music score.

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