The Thing - 7th January 2011

Ahhhh another weekend and another midnight movie. This time it was The Thing and I cannot continue to express enough my joy at being able to see these classic films and some of my favourite films of all time up on the big screen. As I have said before and will probably say again, for a life long film fan it is just the greatest experience you can have.
The print for this particular version was excellent and I have never seen the film looking so incredible.
The wife and I are huge John Carpenter fans and apart from Ghosts of Mars and the last part of Vampires (I always fall asleep) I have watched and can watch everything he's ever done. When John Carpenter works with Kurt Russell, it's particularly brilliant and the two of them have created some of the best fantasy cinema available. While Big Trouble in Little China might be a lot more fun and The Escape movies may have the real cult classic status with an iconic character, The Thing is probably their best film together and the one that can stand head to head with any other Horror or Sci-Fi film out there. Based on the short story 'Who goes there' it is a deceptively simple and expertly executed plot about a research centre in the South Pole that unwittingly invites a shape shifting Alien into their midst and the hunt is on to find out who has been infected and who hasn't. Along the way there are shocks, surprises, twists and turns all complemented in a jaw droppingly inventive and innovative fashion by a 22 year old Rob Bottin's special effect work.
At the time it was released audiences and critics were turned off by the incredible effects accomplishment, that and this dark tale of mistrust in the Antarctic came out the same year as ET. Read what you want into the fact I have seen ET probably once when I was young and have had literally no desire to ever see it again and The Thing I have seen repeatedly and it still surprises, amuses, interests and amazes me every time.
After its initial failure I think, actually, it was the effects that helped it gain in notoriety and find its audience, especially after the acceptance of other effects heavy horrors like Nightmare on Elm Street. I think, when I first got into genre pics it was certainly all I heard about in relation to the flick.
Actually, the effects aspect may have overshadowed what is at the core of this film's staying power and that goes right back to the original story. The idea that there's a group of people, one or many of them maybe your enemy and you don't know which one. The mystery aspect of the film and the subsequent surprises it kicks up is by far what is the most entertaining and important part of this film. The fantastical effect sequences, the likes of which have rarely been seen before or since are what help with constant repeat viewings as they are just so wonderfully artistic and surreal in places but even with repeat viewings I can never 100% remember who gets changed and who doesn't.

The ensemble cast are terrific and it's no one person's movie, yes Kurt Russell gets the cool hat and the cool name but everyone in the film plays their part perfectly. The direction too is fantastic. It's subtle, never showy, always on the mark and builds the tension, telling the central story, perfectly. Also, you'd have no idea watching the film that the interiors were filmed on refrigerated sets in LA, such is the perfect blending of interior and exterior filming.

One surprising thing, for all Carpenter fans is that the music credit goes to Ennio Morricone. Known for writing his own scores to a lot of his films and having a very signature style of doing so, it's incredible that with a composer of Morricone's stature that the score comes out sounding like Carpenter himself could've done it. It's also unusual that Carpenter didn't write the screenplay either and was essentially brought on as a director for hire and yet it is completely and utterly a Carpenter film and, not only that, one of his most beloved and celebrated these days (hindsight, what a wonderful thing).
I guess I don't have to reiterate this but if you ever get a chance to see this eerie and exciting film on the big screen, drop what you're doing and go see it because it's a masterpiece.

I spoke before about Die Hard being the perfect film, the perfect action movie, a film that just came along, did what it said on the tin but did it with style, panache and incredible creativity, well, The Thing is to Horror/Sci-Fi what Die Hard is to action movies, routinely imitated but never bettered.

10 out of 10 frozen dog burgers and a shot of J&B over a game of computer chess
Points from The Wife 10 out of 10! It's one of her favourite films of all time.

Ira & Abby - 18th January 2011

Clerks 2 - 6th January 2011