John Carpenter is without a doubt one of the most prolific names in the horror film genre. He got his start as a low-budget filmmaker with a vision, and eventually came to help redefine an entire genre with the iconic slasher flick “Halloween” (although, to be fair, he borrowed liberally from Bob Clark’s earlier “Black Christmas,” which actually pioneered the killer’s-eye-view technique that Carpenter gets all the credit for).
In the midst of an extensive catalogue of truly thrilling films, his best was possibly 1982’s “The Thing.” The plot is simple: at a research outpost in Antarctica, an alien lifeform lurks which is capable of imitating any living thing, thus spreading distrust and paranoia among the scientists. From this premise Carpenter brilliantly crafts a truly suspenseful and shocking narrative, featuring memorably gruesome transformations as the alien starts to show its various forms.
This film is a testament to how unnecessary CGI visual effects really are. Great things have been done with CGI, but it wasn’t always available the way it is now, and special effects artists had to work with what they had. Because we know we aren’t looking at computer graphics, many of the special effects look more real than what would be accomplished today. (I will admit that I have not seen last year’s incarnation of “The Thing,” but it might be interesting to view as a direct comparison.)
Baxter Avenue Theater presents a midnight screening of this masterpiece tomorrow, Saturday January 28th. If you are one of the sad souls who has somehow not seen this amazing film, do yourself a favor, stay out late, and get yourself some horror culture.
Baxter Avenue Theater is located at 1250 Bardstown Road. Directions and ticket information can be found at the theater’s website.
Image courtesy of the Internet Movie Database.