Friday, December 31, 2010

A Very Carpenter Christmas 4: The Thing

I could've sworn I had written about this earlier, but I've been talking about this thing a lot of places, so I probably just got mixed up. Anyway, it's time to talk a little about the arctic paranoid body horror-extravaganza that is John Carpenter's The Thing, which is an adaption of a novella called "Who Goes There?" not that anyone's heard of it. Somewhat more known is the other adaptation, The Thing From Another World, The Thing is generally consider to be the superior adaptation, though. Also, here be spoilers.

The basic plot of The Thing is pretty simple, in fact, most of The Thing is pretty straightforward. Our heroes are stranded on the south pole for the winter when they discover a maddened Norwegian (well, almost, I'll get back to that) chasing a dog, attempting to kill the thing. Since the guy all but manages to blow himself up, they adopt the dog, not knowing it harbors a shapeshifting alien beastie that can spread like a virus. Needless to say, things go south rather quick, and our heroes find themselves trying to find out who they can trust without getting eaten or worse as the titular thing tries to find it's way to civilization.

This movie is just plain great at body horror. The effects used to show the alien transform it's current human (or canine) duds into something a little more flat out terrifying, and by "a little" I mean "a lot" and by "flat out terrifying" I mean "HOLY FUCKING SHIT WHAT THE FRAGGING HELL IS THAT THING." Yeah. Also, a guy's stomach grows teeth and tears another guy's hands off, that should be enough, although those of a nervous disposition probably will have decided to take their business elsewhere during the Kennel scene.
In the interest of those with a nervous disposition: Bunnies

Now, if the movie has any mentionable flaws in the scary department, it probably comes from one thing that might yank you out of the movie for a little while, at least if you're Norwegian. The above-mentioned Norwegians, or the one our heroes meet, at any rate speaks Norwegian, and that's cool, a little bonus for those proficient in the language. However... yeah, they're not talking it all that well. That seems to be a recurring problem whenever there's supposed to be a Norwegian portrayed in American works. Of course, most time they go for "ambiguously Scandinavian" rather than Norwegian, but still. I'm told that one X-Files episode set in Norway suffered from some of the same problems, but I can't tell. Put bluntly, it took at least two watchings to undersand what the sod actually said, and even now, I have no idea what dialect that guy's supposed to use.
Ok, I'm calm now.

I'm nitpicking, and I realize, but hey, am I not allowed to be a little ethnocentric every now and then?  Well, regardless, The Thing is a really good movie and, as I mentioned earlier, probably my favorite Carpenter flick, if nothing else for the near Cronenbergian levels of sheer body horror and the intense use of good special effects, although the fact that it's actually scary also helps.

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