We’re The ’80s Movie Club and we love The Thing. You do too. Everyone does, surely. It’s the best horror film ever made. Fact. It may also be the best film ever made. It’s so good that it even spawned a fairly credible follow up (ssh! The Thing 2011 is GOOD).
With its ridiculously tight casting, suffocating suspense and insanely good practical effects, The Thing is pretty much a perfect horror movie. Movie critics didn’t think so at the time because they thought it was all a bit much and, more importantly, were snooty-nosed wankers who wouldn’t know a good horror film if it took them over on a cellular level. But audiences loved it and it’s remained a cult favourite ever since people could take it home on VHS.
There’s very little to complain about with The Thing. Sure, even forty years later we’re still not exactly sure how the ‘Thing’ works. Do people know they are things or does the Thing just take over when it needs to survive or attack someone? We don’t care about that at all though (but if you do then check out Peter Watt’s ‘The Things‘ which is the story of the film but from the creature’s perspective).
We’re just here for the paranoia and spectacularly gory kills and The Thing does that stuff better than any horror film before or after (including 1951’s The Thing From Another World which this is a remake of).
This might just be the greatest movie ever made (according to us today in our particularly fickle opinion) and so here are ten reasons why we’re right about this. And we are right about The Thing (2011) too. Stop being a snob about it.
1. If you speak Norwegian, the opening scene tells you what the film is going to be about. The panicked man actually shouts “Get the hell outta there. That’s not a dog, it’s some sort of thing! It’s imitating a dog, it isn’t real! Get away, you idiots!”
But he’s speaking Norwegian not English and so they shoot him. ‘Merica!
It’s an audacious bit of foreshadowing though.
2. Even if, like us, you’ve seen it roughly a million times, you’re never quite sure who is a Thing at any given time. Seriously, watch it again RIGHT NOW. You’ll get so caught up in the suspense of the whole thing, your mind will forget that that guy is about to go all tendrils at everyone. How have they managed this?!
3. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding!”
Simply the greatest line ever uttered, this oft-recycled gem sums up the situation quite well. A man has heart attack, falls backwards, is defibrillated, his chest opens up and chews the doctor’s hands off for good measure, he gets set on fire and then his head peels off of his body, grows legs and runs off. I mean, that’s quite something.
4. Except it’s not the best line ever uttered. It’s not even the best line in The Thing! That’ll be ” I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I’d rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!”
5. MacReady. Kurt Russell nails this role. Possibly the greatest reluctant action hero of the ’80s, his mixture of laid back American heroism and utter disbelief are perfectly acted by Kurt here. From pouring drinks into chess machines to laying waste with a flamethrower, MacReady is the man.
6. The bit with the dogs. Even now, over thirty years since it was made, this scene is still terrifying and hard to watch. Some of the best special effects ever committed to celluloid. Even if it’s all cobbled together out of meat, plastic, jelly and synthetic fibres, the fact that it’s all in-camera and not computer-generated makes it feel real.
It must have seemed pretty real to the dog who tries to chew his way out of the cage too! This was the first bit of The Thing I ever saw because my brother insisted I had to see it. I was probably ten. Growing up in the ’80s was ace lawlessness.
7. The tension of the blood test scene. Holy shit! It might be the most tense scene of all time. You know someone is going to pop for COTHING-19 but you have no idea who it’ll be or how the test will present itself.
Bonus points for Nauls (TK Carter) absolutely losing his shit in the picture below. We’d be screaming too.
8. Snow. Not enough films are set in the snow. I got married in Lapland because of The Thing. Wrong hemisphere I know, but who cares. Snow is excellent. It’s probably why we’re the only people who seem to love 30 Days of Night quite as much as we do.
9. Childs. GOD DAMN Keith David was a bad motherfucker. Childs is awesome in Alan Dean Foster’s novelisation of this movie too (which has some fun stuff about him growing pot) but Keith David is unfuckwittable in this movie. Never been as good since but then again none of them have. Apart from Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China.
10. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack, which is mainly just a note being repeatedly played on a bass guitar, is FANTASTIC. Minimalist and stripped down to the core. Just like the movie, there’s absolutely no fat on it. Arguably the second best ever soundtrack (after Lalo Schifrin’s Enter The Dragon score).
There you have it. Ten reasons why The Thing is the best movie ever made and if you don’t agree, that’s because that’s what they want you to think. Trust no-one.