Let me start this off by saying I have a curse. The entire realm of horror dates back long before I was born. Most of its true fans can agree that the movies aren’t what they used to be. Things have changed over the generations and the fault lies in the audience. Horror movies are perhaps the most interesting of all the genres because of one simple fact: its audience always wants more. We need the envelope to be pushed over and over again. This, in turn, desensitizes us. And the circle starts all over again. We see a throat get cut enough times in the movies and you’d better believe we’re going to want the whole fucking head to be cut off next time. The days of simple scares are over. And this is my curse. I buy into the bullshit 100 percent. I can’t wait to see how the movies are going to shock us next. I watch a movie like The Blob and I fall asleep. Then something as ridiculous as Saw V comes around and I’m glued. The Thing is a very special movie. It is one of the few older horror movies that I absolutely adore. And one reason for this is its ability to break my curse and scare the hell out of me. What makes The Thing work is its outstanding ability to join generations together for a ride that will have us all on the edge of our seats.
Antarctica. Perhaps the coldest, loneliest place imaginable. In the midst of its endless miles of frozen wasteland a team of American scientists are gathered for an expedition. It is made very clear from beginning they have all been out there too long. Almost immediately, things get moving with a surprise visit. A dog comes charging into their camp trying to escape a gunman. We immediately sense the man’s desperation. He wants this dog dead. And fast. Without revealing too much, what follows is nothing short of horror genius. For this small group of scientists in this cold and lonely place, all they had to keep themselves sane was each other. And it’s that very sanity that tests them all in the end.
At the heart of this film is its brilliant attention towards the characters. All the roles are played remarkably well, with special emphasis on Kurt Russell as Macready and Wilford Brimley as Dr. Blair. It will keep you guessing again and again on who the “bad guy” is. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Who’s sane and who’s going to grow a monstrous spider-creature from their head? The movie breaks its characters down into the simplistic beings we all become when survival mode kicks in. And though the movie would stand strong on the characters alone, let’s not forget the special effects.
It’s interesting what fear is to us. It’s such a personal feeling. My generation is use to CGI up the ass of every demon and monster presented in horror movies today. And some of my friends are scared to death of the slick, cartoony images directors try to pass off as realistic. Call me old fashioned, but you throw an animatronics werewolf at me, it’ll have me shitting my pants a lot faster than the Lycans of Underworld. The Thing uses well-crafted animatronics by Rob Bottin and Stan Winston to strike fear into the hearts of viewers. To this day I have never seen effects used so brilliantly. It’s obvious the designers have severely disturbing imaginations. And what more could we as horror fans ask for?
The Thing is and always will be a gift to fans of the genre…and many who could care less about horror. It stands out as a classic in a sea of excellent movies that could only hope to match its greatness. And while I can’t honestly say it will scare everybody who watches it, it will definitely leave an impact on those of us who know a little about human nature.