21. The Thing (1982)

Possibly my favourite horror movie title of all time – I mean, what more do you need? John Carpenter’s 1982 version of the something-nasty-in-the-ice story ticks all my boxes: small community terrorised by unknown forces, former friends/neighbours turning on each other, a central gimmick that you can fantasise about in daily life, and sexually attractive actors, in this case a scruffy beardy Kurt Russell. There are some really great metamorphoses in The Thing, particularly when the dogs go badly wrong (pets going wrong is an important subset of horror films on which I may one day write a pompous monograph). There’s the ludicrous climactic sequence which packs in every Freudian fear you can imagine, including one of my favourite biting-off-of-a-limb scenes ever, all with wonderful stop-frame animation and puppets. john-carpenter-in-review-the-thing-1982-L-85xhQtBut the best aspect of The Thing, which elevates it above the other versions of the story, is the focus on the identity. One of us is an alien, but we don’t know which – how often have we all fantasised about that in family/work/relationship situations? The blood-test scenes, in which the victims all start accusing each other, are superb. And the depressing, downbeat ending is the cherry on the cake.

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