Where are my fellow horror movie fans? I know you're out there, you sick puppies. I love Halloween for all its Halloweeny wonderfulness, but particularly because it's a fine excuse to curl up with a scary movie after the kids go to bed (and I've raided their candy stash). Some of my creepy favorites include The Descent (so many phobias in one badass movie), Cabin in the Woods (because it's hilarious AND unsettling), the original Evil Dead ("Kill her if you can, loverboy"), Let the Right One In (suck it, Twilight), Alien (scary back then, scary today), and -- well, I could go on and on.
However, there is one horror movie that rises above all the others, despite the fact that it was released over 30 years ago. The entire film, including its impressively gory special effects, has held up marvelously over time. The leading man is still appealing, the story is still spooky, and to this day, it has the honor of featuring one of the most disturbing creatures I have ever seen. EVER.
I'm talking about John Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece, The Thing. In a nutshell, The Thing tells the story of a diabolical alien lifeform that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them. It infiltrates an Antarctic research station, and a horror-drenched paranoia seizes the group as the creature begins taking the appearance of the researchers.
That's what's so scary about this movie. It's not just the good old-fashioned startle-scares and the utterly freaky transformations (including a never-to-be-forgotten scene of a guy's stomach cracking open and becoming a cavernous jaw) -- it's the creeping sense of doom. It's the lack of trust as we don't know who's The Thing and who's not. It's the helplessness of having this all unravel in such a hostile and desolate setting.
Most critically of all, the characters are great. Kurt Russell's MacReady is an instantly familiar alpha dog, and the others develop their own likable personalities as the film goes on, until you're rooting for everyone to survive the madness -- which, of course, they don't. They're being attacked from all sides, and they eventually turn on each other as the monster lurks within their group.
Oh, and remember that creature I was talking about? Yeah, check this out:
YOU GUYS. THAT IS A SEVERED HUMAN HEAD THAT GROWS SPIDER LEGS AND ATTACKS PEOPLE.
Its appearance also spawns one of the greatest lines of dialogue in horror history:
You gotta be fuckin' kidding.
More memorable lines:
I dunno what the hell's in there, but it's weird and pissed off, whatever it is.
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!
How do we know who's human? If I was an imitation, a perfect imitation, how would you know if it was really me?
I think it rips through your clothes when it takes you over. Windows found some shredded long johns, but the nametag was missing. They could be anybody's. Nobody ... nobody trusts anybody now, and we're all very tired. Nothing else I can do, just wait. ... R.J. MacReady, helicopter pilot, US outpost number 31.
In conclusion, The Thing is a nearly perfect horror movie and you should rent it immediately if you haven't seen it already. Don't bother with the 1951 original or the utterly pointless 2011 remake, this is the one you want. See it for the suspense, the paranoia, and the ratcheting sense of bone-deep fear (the blood-testing scene! AHHHHHH) -- or just see it for Kurt Russell's majestic beard. Either way, it won't disappoint.
Okay, your turn: what's your favorite horror movie?
Images via Universal