Horror/action master John Carpenter’s THE THING screens this weekend at the Coolidge Corner Theater. This disturbing film follows a group of arctic explorers who discover a crashed alien spaceship that had recently plagued a neighboring Norwegian science post. Featuring great bad-ass performances by Kurt Russell and Keith David, this film takes a dark turn as the group is overtaken by this extraterrestrial life form. Trapped at their post during a horrible storm, the men turn on one another as they try to figure out who is still themselves and who has already been taken over.
Dean Cundey’s cinematography here is about as good as it gets. He had previously worked with Carpenter on other features HALLOWEEN, THE FOG and of course ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. His use of shadows and the way he frames the characters in tight spaces helps push the paranoia and claustrophobia that develops as the men are taken over by this alien entity and forced into ever tighter rooms and hallways.
The film’s amazing score was composed by Ennio Morricone. Carpenter, who usually scores his films himself with heavy synth tracks, takes the backseat to Morricone, whose work here is a bit subdued compared to his other notable works. The beautifully composed soundtrack helps to give the film an added sense of dread as the story barrels on towards its nihilistic ending.
And, of course, you can’t talk about THE THING without mentioning the amazing work of special effects artists Rob Bottin and Stan Winston, whose terrifying and gory effects hold up to this day. It’s tough to watch modern horror flicks that rely so much on CGI for its scares when these guys were perfecting the craft over thirty years ago. Beyond the realism you get from the practical effects, the creativity in their designs still gives me nightmares.
This film had the misfortune of coming out at the same time as E.T. and BLADE RUNNER, so its initial run at the box office was fairly soft. Since then it has grown past its cult status to a well-respected film in Carpenter’s filmography and within the sci-fi/horror genre itself. The film’s opening is as strong as its closing, which are honestly two of my favorite scenes of all time. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll refrain from talking about one of the best endings of all time, but honestly if you haven’t seen it at this point, what have you been doing with your time?
Friday 2/21 & Saturday 2/22 at 11:59 PM
Coolidge Corner Theater (290 Harvard St, Brookline MA, 02446)
Movie poster from MONDO artist JOCK.
Check out more of their great work here.