Thursday, 6 August 2009

John Carpenter's The Thing.

Man Is The Warmest Place To Hide.

I vividly remembered that I mistaken this 1982 movie title as to referencing the Fantastic Four member The Thing. I was excited when my uncle brought back the rented tape that day and could not wait for it to start. Lo and behold was I wrong. Looking back, this was one of the few movies (the other being Alien and The Exorcist) that really shook me up from those early years. Rob Bottin who previously worked with Carpenter in The Fog (1980) and a former apprentice to another great special effect makeup master, Rick Baker (An American Werewolf In London), gave a set of memorably gory visual of the infected and semi-transformed humans. The impact was powerful enough to give me a series of nightmares, much to the chagrin of my parent (but hey, I was only what, seven?). The first time I watched it, it was the visual which griped me, but subsequent re watching during the later years, it was the story and the setting that took the front seat of horror. All cut off from the world, in Antarctica, claustrophobic research station, paranoia as to who was infected and vice versa. Trademark John Carpenter "style" was there as well, like sudden movement of a passing body, followed by a high pitch noise etc. And that score (by Ennio Morricone, a profilic composer writing mostly Sergio Leone spaghetti western) was more or less the same one would be expecting from a John Carpenter movie i.e. forebodingly scary with the synthesizer sound. And one can't even visualised what the original extra terrestrial creature looks like. By the time the horrific nature of it became clear, it already tried to "assimilate" itself into a pack of dogs. It was supposedly some sort of parasitic, single cell organism. It was not ascertained whether when the flying saucer like space ship crashed onto Antarctica thousands of years ago belong to the creature or because the pilot too, were infected with it. Just like a virus. This movie, together with Halloween (1978, which jump start the slasher genre), Escape From New York (1981), The Fog, Christine (1983) and the fun and humorous Big Trouble In Little China (1986), are the best from one of the master of horror. Most of the movies by Carpenter starred Kurt Russell. Back then, there were no The Ring and The Grudge type horrors. Either a John Carpenter or Wes Craven movie would scare the wits out of us kids growing up in the 80s.

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