The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982, USA) - Revisited

The Thing has reached its 40th anniversary, and its reputation as one of the greatest horror films of all time has been cemented in stone. However, it is easy to see in retrospect why the film was not a success. By 1982, audiences were moving away from dark 1970s storylines and the big-budget tentpole blockbuster was emerging. The Thing emerged the same summer as E.T., a film that much better captured the mood of the moment. And it is true - The Thing is an unrelentingly grim piece, forming the first part of director John Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy along with Prince of Darkness (1987) and In the Mouth of Madness (1994).

The Thing had more time in development than any of John Carpenter's other films, and as such, it is much richer in terms of the plot machinations. The film rewards repeat viewings because - despite its truly grotesque moments of horror - the film unfolds like a mystery. It is hard to know at any given moment who has been infected. Many people know the notorious mystery of the film's ending (was Childs infected or not?), but the film yields an almost endless series of mysteries. One such example - do the infected even know they are infected? The Thing could have given birth to a true extended universe in the same way as the Alien franchise. While the film spawned an underwhelming prequel and a video game, it has not given birth to a franchise - perhaps because of the dismal box office reception of the first film. But if the film's successful 40th-anniversary screening via Fathom Events is any indication, there is a clear demand for The Thing - it has entered the pantheon of classic horror films and will remain there for the time to come. 



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