Nothing’s better than a good winter storm. Getting under the blankets, warm and cozy, and popping on a movie. So picture this: you’re in the antarctic, getting a bit of cabin fever, getting fed up with the people around you, while a storm rages on, and one of you is probably an alien, hell-bent on killing you and taking your identity—and everyone is accusing each other. If this sounds like a fun winter activity to you, you’re in luck!
John Carpenter’s 1982 classic, The Thing, chronicles RJ MacReady (Kurt Russell), a young helicopter pilot for Outpost 31, an American research facility in Antarctica. Surrounded by nothingness, MacReady and the men in the facility pass the time by playing cards, drinking whiskey and playing Chess Wizard on the computer. Everything is quiet until their camp is stumbled upon by a seemingly violent and insane Norwegian man chasing after a sled dog. Both are shooting at the dog, until Garry (Donald Moffat), the commander of Outpost 31, shoots the Norwegian man. Curious, they go to the Norwegian base to find a brutal scene of murder and suicide, and discover the corpse of what they think was once a human man.
They place the new dog in their kennel, met with suspicion and dismay of the other sled dogs. Soon, the new dog begins to act strangely, and it lashes out, transforming into a disgusting creature before killing and absorbing the other dogs. The men of 31 watch in horror and shock, and they use a flamethrower to try and take the creature down.
They retreat to the lab. As they examine the “human” that they discovered at the Norwegian base, Blair, the on-site doctor, believes that this “thing” can imitate any living thing to make others believe it is what they see. With this new knowledge, tensions rise, and the crew discover a 100,000 year-old spacecraft, and fear strikes at the thought of it taking over the Earth with the abilities it holds in imitating and killing humans. As the night grows darker, men start to disappear and paranoia sets in, The Thing goes into a dark, chilling downward spiral that erupts into a nightmare.
The Thing is one of the great classics of film, especially horror. Its bone-chilling soundtrack, orchestrated by the masterful Ennio Morricone, is a memorable score that captures the cold darkness in which the Thing dwells. The film has influenced countless others, most recently Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (which also stars Kurt Russell in a snowstorm—Ennio Morricone won an Academy Award for the soundtrack). It’s a film I watch again and again, for the sheer creepiness and the way it encompasses you. The atmosphere that is built in The Thing and the way pulls in the viewer is infectious, but luckily, not one that can assimilate you in a small Antarctic outpost.
dir. John Carpenter
Screens Friday, 10/25 @ Video Underground
Doors at 7:30, film starts at 8 (RSVP requested)