The Thread about The Thing (1982)

My 15 year old daughter’s best friend was over this weekend and they wanted to watch a scary movie. They were perusing our various streaming services and finding a bunch of dumb slasher movies, and I said they should watch The Thing, so we all watched it together.

They doubted me. What was this 40-year-old movie starring a guy with a beard? No CGI? What the… They LOVED it. Loved it. They talked about it all the next day. They’re smart kids, and I was impressed with how they talked in terms of cinema; they specifically called out the cinematography and lighting for praise, especially Carpenter’s use of in-scene lighting, like flares, and his use of darkness to conceal things.

Anyway, holy shit that’s a great movie. It’s just a fantastically crafted horror film. Something I noticed is that Carpenter takes his time getting to the real gore and horror… it doesn’t get scary right away, and yet the pacing is just perfect. You are never bored but it’s never rushed.

This is absolutely Carpenter’s best movie.

It’s one of my top two favorite flamethrower movies.

Mac wants the WHAT?

Is your other one A Fist Full Of Yen ?

I always take the opportunity to point out just how creepy the scene is where the new dog is put in with the other dogs. One of the best animal scenes I’ve ever seen in any horror or science-fiction movie, simply for the way they were able to use a few simple moves by the dog to convey such alien-ness.

I think it helped a lot that it was based on a fine plot.
I can recommend the original:

The Thing from Another World (1951) - IMDb

Well, if you could get them to watch that, I hope you’ll recommend “The Stuff”.

If you’re recommending the original, then that would be Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell.

Of course (well done that man!)
I should have said the original film.

Both films were based on the Campbell story, but the 1951 version changed that story very significantly. I can’t complain too much, because it’s extremely well made, and even campbell himself, asked about it, said he shouldn’t complain since it was now a “classic”, but I thought the concept was severely “dumbed down” for the 1951 film.
I did like the way that Bill Lancaster’s script and Carpenter’s film sort of incorporated the stuff from the first film. It’s almost as if the 1951 film was a sort of prequel for the 1982 film, but with the events at the Norwegian camp standing in for the American base from the 1951 film. They have the same finding of the ship, the guys standing in a circle to mark out the boundaries of the flying saucer, and the recovery of the alien’s body and bringing it back to the camp.
One of the reasons I don’t care for the 2011 follow-up “prequel” (also named The Thing) is precisely because it subverts that analogy and the setup, to no really good purpose.

Incidentally, in Campbell’s original story the alien ship is NOT a flying saucer. It’s described as being sort of like a submarine. This is another case of a 1950s movie changing the alien spaceship fro its original shape in the literature to a flying saucer in the wake of the 1947 saucer craze. (the other two cases I can think of are The Day the Earth Stood Still and This Island Earth. In both cases, in the original stories, the alien craft were ovoid, not saucers)

Russell and Carpenter have a great revisiting their time making the movie on the DVD commentary track, well worth a listen.

I don’t want spend the rest of the winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!

The head into spider scene is still one of the creepiest I’ve ever seen in a horror movie.

You gotta be fucking kidding…

If I remember the commentary correctly, this is Kurt Russell’s favorite line in the film.

Check this out: a 2010 short story, giving us insights into the the '82 film from the Thing’s point of view.

The Things
— by Peter Watts —
2011 Hugo Award Nominee, 2010 BSFA Award Finalist, 2010 Shirley Jackson Award Winner, 2011 Finalist: the Locus Award for Best Short Story, 2011 Theodore Sturgeon Award Nominee

And like all good movies, the game it inspired was terrible.

This was one of the proposed logos when The Cleveland Indians(now Guardians) were deciding on a new name.

I agree that The Thing is fantastic. All the scary effects, like the head into spider thing, the final transmogrification scene, are all great.

But somehow that husky and how he’s so watchful and calm, waiting for his chance, is what scares me most of all. I want to scream, like the Norwegians, “Get away from it! It’s not a dog! It’s a thing!”

I always figured you rolled like that. :wink: