Tied to This Couch – The Thing (1982)

Nothing else like it.  So this is about a dozen men isolated on an Antarctic research station.  When a dog followed by two crazed (and quickly eliminated) Norwegians makes its way into camp, everybody is put on edge, because it is quickly revealed that there is an alien presence that can perfectly imitate any organism it wants to, man included, and it has come to crash the proverbial party.  This is, without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite science fiction horror movies ever made.  There’s this, The Fly and Alien, and they are all neck and neck in my eyes in terms of quality.  It is just so perfectly executed, and I don’t think there is another movie out there that rouses such feelings of distrust like The Thing does.

1It all started with a husky.

This blends psychology and horror in a way that is unparalleled.  People forget that this is a remake of The Thing from Another World, and they made a prequel in 2011 that shared the same title, but the 1982 version is lightening in a bottle, and I will watch it any day of the week.  Once this really gets rolling, there is just an unprecedented amount of paranoia, and it doesn’t offer any clear cut answers, keeping you guessing constantly.  John Carpenter knows what he’s doing, too, and he purposely puts in scenes that have red herrings in it, only to double back and go a different direction two scenes later.  Even when you get to the end and you have your theories, you can make three very valid arguments for what you believe to be happening, and none of them are wrong.  You’re on pins and needles the entire time because of the unpredictability of it all, and when you couple that with some of the most stunningly grotesque horror make-up effects, you have something that is bound to give you nightmares.

2Courtesy of Rob Bottin and Stan Winston.

The Thing sucks you in and never lets go.  Once it gets going, you realize that you can trust no one for any sort of extended period of time, and it is very quickly revealed that no one is safe.  It is everything I look for in an intelligent horror story, and the highlight of this for me is the couch scene; I’ve seen this about a half dozen times now, and every time it gets to that part, I’m ready to jump up and start yelling at the screen to get a better flamethrower.  There is an ingeniously simple score from Ennio Morricone that does nothing but add to the terrifying situation you’re placed in.  This truly is one of the most suspenseful movies ever made and is an absolute must see for so many reasons.

The Thing (1982) *****

– Critic for Hire

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