For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today, we're getting frosty with John Carpenter's "The Thing."
I used to hate horror movies. After I saw "Scream" in theaters at age four I had perpetual nightmares of Ghostface stabbing me to death in an abandoned house. I think it was seeing the original "The Evil Dead," with all its low-budget ridiculousness, that converted me into a fan of the genre. Once I realized how farfetched these movies can be, I found myself more afraid of movies with a lower production value and without a central, exaggerated embodiment of evil that the director points at and says "Be afraid of this!"
1982’s “The Thing” by John Carpenter is definitely my favorite horror movie. One night in high school, I was trash talking Kurt Russell’s acting abilities and some of my older friends said I was ignorant of his performance in “The Thing.” Their Russell advocacy prompted me to watch the movie later on, and I was convinced that I had misspoke.
Russell plays a helicopter pilot, CJ MacReady, working for a research team in Antarctica. The movie begins with a Norwegian helicopter pursuing and shooting at a helpless looking dog before crashing and burning. The scientists travel to the Norwegian station and find it completely destroyed. It soon becomes apparent that a shape-shifting alien has infiltrated the base and morphed into a crew member. MacReady spends the movie investigating his peers while one by one they are killed off.
The appeal of the movie to me is the heavy use of suspense and the subtlety of the villain. The viewer never actually sees the alien until almost three-fourths of the way into the film- in fact, you don't even know who it is. “The Thing” is a classic, plot-driven whodunit but set in Antarctica, adding to the isolationism felt in the film. The character building is fascinating, as are the trust issues between everyone. Interestingly, the alien invader causes the men to examine their own humanity, ethics and behavior. Should they act spitefully towards each other in the face of death or altruistically?
The only bad part of the movie is that it’s a huge sausage fest and there’s no hot chicks to ease the tension.