My two favorite horror movies are John Carpenter’s THE THING, and JAWS. I could spend days talking about these movies. Since I don’t have that kind of time, I’m going to go off a bit about my passion for THE THING—which, to be clear, isn’t more important than JAWS to me, but it’s just an entirely different animal. I have THING and JAWS tribute rooms/museums at home, it’s getting a bit out of control.
THE THING from 1982 is more of a faithful adaptation of the John W. Campbell Jr. story “WHO GOES THERE?” than the 1951 Howard Hawks’ film, “THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD.” What’s remarkable to me is how “WHO GOES THERE?” still stands the test of time since first being published in Astounding Science Fiction way back in August 1938. I can see how it got under John Carpenter’s skin (pun intended) and inspired him to make a genre-defying version of the story into a film.
For those who know, and those who don’t, THE THING is about a United States research team based at Outpost 31 in Antarctica. The men are one-by-one taken by an alien that has the ability to assimilate its victims.
You see the movie open with a scene of a Husky running like hell over an Antarctic glacier as a couple of Norwegian dudes in a helicopter pursue it and shoot at it from above. Once that Husky reaches the American Outpost 31, all hell breaks loose. The cast is fantastic and John Carpenter’s vision and direction are dark and full of creepy paranoia.
Rob Bottin’s practical FX are what really stand out for me. What he pulled off with his talent and imagination has never been surpassed in any film since—with practical FX and CGI. Stan Winston’s contribution to the film via the Kennel Dog Thing is also amazing.
THE THING has become an epic cult favorite. The respect for the film is high, but when it was first released, it failed at the box office—and it didn’t help that it was released two weeks after Steven Spielberg’s friendly alien movie, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. THE THING is full of claustrophobia, paranoia, solitude, and again, full of Rob Bottin’s extremely gory and incredibly terrifying practical effects that remain a standout in film history. However, in its initial run, THE THING earned just under $20 million in the US box office.
Critics hated it back then as well. What do they know anyway?
THE THING always gets to me every time I watch it. It’s creepy and full of nightmares and the ambiguous ending still makes my gears turn and makes me wonder of MacReady and Childs are infected, are THE THING?
John Carpenter’s THE THING just rules. The characters, the suspense, the score by Ennio Morricone, the cinematography, the practical effects all make this movie an untouchable masterpiece and one of the greatest horror films ever made. If you’ve never seen it, do so NOW!
I currently have a THING museum that hosts what I believe is the largest THING collection in the world. It’s full of countless collectibles and even screen-used props and more from both THE THING 1982 and THE THING 2011. It has to be seen to really have it sink in.
Moreover, my obsession with THE THING even found its way into my band, BROKEN HOPE, as our 2017 album, “MUTILATED and ASSIMILATED” was a complete tribute to John Carpenter’s THE THING. The cover artwork, the title track lyrics, and the title track video are pure THING worship all the way!
Happy Horror-Watching and Happy Halloween to all you Kendall Review readers!
Jeremy Wagner, Chicago, IL. 10/18/2019
JEREMY WAGNER’s most recent novel, RABID HEART, received 2019 IPPY AWARDs for “BEST HORROR E-BOOK and “BEST BOOK/AUTHOR WEBSITE,” and also received 2019 NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS for “BEST HORROR NOVEL” and “BEST OVERALL BOOK DESIGN.” RABID HEART is nominated for a SPLATTERPUNK AWARD for “BEST HORROR NOVEL.”
Official Website: https://www.jeremy-wagner.com/
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005I4PL2A