The Thing

This is a monster movie, right? I’m ok with monster movies, though the cover makes me wonder if its going to have horror tones to it. Multiple people have told me that this is great though, so I guess I’m tentatively optimistic about this one…


John Carpenter’s The Thing ended up being a very interesting experience for me. As we have established, I don’t do well with horror. And when we had the gruesome monster reveal scenes (the Norwegian Base was somewhat okay, because it was all static – it was the dogs that first got me), I was put off. That isn’t my idea of fun. But it was relatively short sequence, and it had some resolution to it. It wasn’t just there for a laugh, or a side show. It was a plot point. So after the gore was out of the way, the movie got back to being good. But more importantly, the story was materially different. Having being confronted with this horrific scene, characters did what characters do best – they reacted.

The horror element served a narrative purpose. It had a point. That is important.

When I think about The Thing in comparison to Braindead, the difference is stark. In Braindead, the gore is intended to be funny in its own right. This did not resonate with me, at all. And without that point to carry it, I was deaf to the entire appeal of the movie. In contrast, The Thing is a very well executed shapeshifter story, with all the right elements to make it work (isolated environment, large cast of characters, and plenty of existing tensions for the mounting paranoia to play on). Each instance of horror was relatively short, and served to move the story along and spur the situation to greater heights of drama. This is something I understand and am able to appreciate.

Don’t get me wrong. I still can’t honestly say I enjoyed the gory horror scenes. I am too squicked out by it all for that. But since they were presented within the framework of a good story, I can at least say that they added more to my overall enjoyment of the movie than what they took away. That is a huge deal for me.

Maybe its not so much that I can’t handle gore, but merely that I cannot handle gore for it’s own sake.

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Good:

  • Dogs. The dogs were good.
  • Really sensible horror movie precautions. MacReady made some mistakes but the fact that he beat the thing was no accident.
  • Despite some of them never really making it past one-note status, I quite liked the group of characters.
  • Flamethrowers!

Bad:

  • THE DOG DIED
  • Nitpicks about the various explosions. Most of them involved more fire than was appropriate – which is inkeeping with the theme of the movie, I guess.
  • *grumbles about gore*

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