John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ (1982)
What a magnificent piece of horror cinema ‘The Thing’ is, one of Carpenter’s best and one of Hollywood’s finest remakes. I wont bother writing a review here as you no doubt know the movie well, as did those lucky enough to attend a big-screen cinema screening of which I was one. Watching ‘The Thing‘ on the big screen was a wonderful example of the power of cinema, and proof of the old adage that movies are at their very best when enjoyed in the darkened comfort of the cinema. Here are some of the standout highlights of watching the movie how it was truly intended:
- The Burning Logo: Along with the lovingly huge white 80s opening credits a sheer feeling of glee and menace passed over the audience as ‘The Thing‘ logo burned its way seemingly through the screen itself. The famous logo is of course borrowed from the Howard Hawks 1951 original and is a highly recognizable piece of horror iconography. But seeing it emblazoned across the screen in ten-feet high lettering was a fabulous sight for genre fans.
- The Landscape: Like Speilberg’s use of the horizon in ‘Jaws‘ (1975), Carpenter’s framing of the vast bleak Antarctic landscape is bought into sharp focus when watched upon the big screen. A television set, no matter how big, just doesn’t do justice to the feeling of beauty and isolation conveyed by the cinema.
- The Practical Effects: Rob Bottin’s splendid special effects are as impressive as they are vividly nausiating. Only watching the limb bending, visceral flesh and goo on the big screen can you get a feel for what it must have been like to have whitnessed them in a theatre back in 1982, some three decades ago. No CGI will, or can, match the gut-churning effects achieved by Bottin’s most memorable work, described at the time by Roger Ebert as “among the most elaborate, nauseating, and horrifying sights yet achieved“. Stand-out moments such as the twisted remains from the Norwegian camp, the inside-out husky, the spider head, and the chest mouth were met with rapturous approval from the audience, enjoying every second of the outlandish body horror.
- The Composition: In places ‘The Thing‘ features some of Carpenter’s best moments of framing and cinematography (so you also have to give props here to Cinematographer Dean Cundy). The grip work that tracks the husky at the beginning is wonderfully playful, and the slow tracking shots through the corridors and various rec rooms are incredibly atmospheric.
Of course ‘The Thing‘ is a great viewing experience however you watch it, however, catching these great genre classics on the big screen truly enhances your favourite films tenfold. I’ve been lucky enough to experience retrospective cinema screenings of ‘Alien‘, ‘Poltergeist‘, ‘Ghostbusters‘, ‘Friday the 13th‘, ‘Jaws‘, and now ‘The Thing‘, amongst others, and I highly advise you to look into it too.