Movie News & Reviews

'The Thing' remains a horror classic

I have tried, so far, to use this space to highlight the more obscurefilms I've stumbled across/been assaulted by in my years as anunwashed recluse.

For one thing, if you've already heard of a movie,you don't need one more jerk telling you what to think about it, butmore importantly, I can only assume geekily enthusiastic displays ofuseless knowledge impresses the hell out of chicks.

So it's with some doubt I'm going more mainstream this week. Or itwould be with doubt, anyway, if 1982's The Thing weren't soendlessly great I want to eat it like a sandwich.

During the Antarctic winter, a long-buried alien infiltrates theisolated base that's home to a dozen men. Once they discover thealien's power to mimic and absorb all other organisms, chopper pilotKurt Russell and the other men have no way to know who among them ishuman and who's a thing.

After a certain amount of success, many celebrities are famous simplyfor being famous; if you grow up after their big works are come andgone, you can hear a guy's name in the news a hundred times withouthaving a clue what he created. With its perfect pacing, iconic score,and inescapable atmosphere of paranoia, The Thing is one of themovies that made director John Carpenter a legend.

Wasting no time before it leaps headfirst into the crazy, we're soonexposed to visceral tentacle-dog special effects, Russell in a cowboyhat that could only be worn on a continent 3,000 miles from any women,and what might be the finest thing in the history of things: WilfordBrimley whaling on a wall of computers with an axe. Even without hismustache, you don't want any part of that.

All the while, the characters' dilemma keeps getting worse. There arefew things more fun to watch than doomed people realizing they're evenmore screwed than they thought.

The real kicker is Russell's efforts to know and defeat the unknown.With a handful of clues to how the alien works, makeshift supplies,and a line of logic so sharp it could cut down a mountain with no morethan a dirty look, the story is as much a top-flight mystery as acreepy gorefest. Add that together and The Thing is a contenderfor horror heavyweight champeen of the world.