“Where was he trying to go?”

“Any place but here.”

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John Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing” is on Sundance Channel. One of my favorite movies, and still genuinely creepy. I remember how critics at the time of its release complained about the ooey-gooey creature effects but to me they still present a justified and powerful visual metaphor. This was the period when Carpenter was really at his height. One interesting thing is that it barely has any music. The final tableau is about as bleak an image of the impending bodily paranoia of the 80’s as could possibly be imagined.

“How will we make it?”

“Maybe we shouldn’t”


  1. The part where the Thing infects/explodes out of the dogs was the scene that had me sleepless as a three year-old, and subsequently made my parents cancel the cable subscription so I wouldn’t watch more scary movies on HBO and keep them up all night. A totally freaking scary flick.

  2. Sadly I always thought that was not his best, to much of the “Hey there is a noise in the dark, lets all split up” syndrome.
    I actualy prefer the original as well as the original short story it came from.

  3. am almost ashamed to say i love this movie as well. despite the kitsch factor and the simple electronic chord soundtrack (period carpenter) it held up for me through many viewings and is still an entertaining and watchable film. the special effects make me think of jenny holzer’s quote about the mouth being where the dry outside meets the moist inside. wet. and many of the men were fuck all sexy. though he is killed off too early on, richard masur’s clark embodied many of the physical and personal traits i’ve idealized in men since childhood. and even kurt russell, often too pretty for my tastes, is at his most delectable hairy prime in this. thanks for reminding me about this one. due for a spin. had it so long i’ve got the laserdisc for christ’s sake!

  4. I saw this with a friend when it came out, and the only film that has revolted me more is Pasolini’s “Salo.” At the time, I said that if John Carpenter had been in the lobby of the theater when I came out for good (I spent about a third of the film in the lobby), I would have hit him in the face for making me feel so bad.

    Of course, today I would not have stayed after the scene with the dogs, and I would have loudly demanded (and gotten) my money back. Life’s too short.

  5. Ya know, I know I saw this in my wasted high-school years, when I’d watch damn near anything cable TV threw up at me. But—dare I say?—I remember pretty much bugger* all about it.

    Perhaps the time is ripe for a re-viewing. Though considering a lot of the comments here, I’m not sure I want to!

    *originally started typing “bigger”. Paging Dr. Freud!

  6. One of my favourite films. Saw it in a packed cinema on release and when the Thing does the dogs and all that there was an audible hush and exhalation after. No one had seen anything like it.
    And Wilford Brimley made my balls ache.

  7. up until seeing that movie
    i loved horror films:
    nothing ever scared me
    — i knew, somehow, it was all fake

    but when i saw that movie
    ( i was probably 7 years old, 8…)
    it totally traumatized me
    a quiet inner fear was realized:
    ANYTHING, no matter how trusted, could be some evil hiddeous thing inside
    wanting only to devour me

    — i couldn’t sleep well for weeks
    even the plush frog that i used to sleep with was suspect

    — i’ve still not seen it again as an adult.

  8. This is a rare case of where the creepiness of the original story actually came through in the film – as opposed to the ’50s version which had James Arness as a humanoid carrot, or something.

    Two completely self indulgent remarks:

    I saw interviews about this movie with Rob Bottin who did many/most of the effects for the film, and with his long hair, huge beard and somewhat oversize canines, he looked like an extraordinarily sexy werewolf to me.

    I find it amazing that an actor who looks as dorky as Kurt Russell does when facially defoliated is so DAMN good looking with a proper beard! Too bad that in real life, I understand both he and his wife are barbaphobes….

  9. Oh, I just love this version! Not just for the hairy men (they’re the icing on the cake), but the way Carpenter sets up some of the sequences to scare the shit out of ya. There have been rumors for years that he wants to make a sequal to the film. Thankfully, nothing has come of it. I like the ending as it is.

  10. There is a film which is almost a sequel: Dark Horse comics started a book based on the film in the early 90’s which extended the story. Shortly afterward they spun it off into a series called Virus, which became the basis for the 1999 Jamie Lee Curtis/Donald Sutherland film of the same name

  11. Thor, you’d love it. It’s got lots of hairy, bearded men in a bunkhouse, and lines like “If I was an imitation, a perfect imitation, how would you know it was really me?” It’s “bad” in a very good way. I didn’t find it especially gory — it’s mostly built on suspense.

    Unfortunately, the Sundance version wasn’t captioned, so now I have an excuse to rent it again.

  12. I don’t get Sci Fi, but someone posted a link to the promo in question on one of the Yahoo! Groups I frequent.

    Very amusing. If only the guy were, like, hot. I know. I’m too picky. *sigh*

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