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Monster Movie: The THING is, I couldn’t quite get into THE THING

This week’s horror 80’s horror flick, John Carpenter’s THE THING was a tough thing for me to watch. The premise of an alien frozen in the Arctic warming enough to take over the bodies of human and animal is frightening. One of the most frightening aspects of the movie as the cast had no way of know who was human and who was the alien thingy.
I watched this movie over a week ago, and it has taken me this long to say a few words. Perhaps, I am having difficulty pinpointing what I am so “meh” about? Overall, I think I was bored. The pacing of the movie was slow. And I think at this point in the term, we’ve seen all these monster and horror tropes already.
The men stationed up in the ice are there for some unknown reason (did the movie ever say?). They are isolated, and the story did well at creating a claustrophobic feel. Human’s make stupid deadly choices. No way anyone was getting away from the horror—ala “Aliens.”
How did this THING thaw out anyway? The slain Norwegian’s sported iced bloodcicles! So these monsters can re-animate when it gets warm—that feels reminiscent of World War Z’s zombies. Beware of spring.
We watched the same human response to horrific situations: paranoia (albeit not without warrant in this story), bickering, and turning on each other—“The Night of the Living Dead.” As with many movies, we already viewed, for me, there was little character identification. I felt ambiguous toward them—not worried, or rooting for their success. The closest I’ve come to care about any of the movie characters were in American Werewolf in London as I wanted to see David beat this werewolf thing, and still felt annoyed his parents didn’t show up at the hospital. But the rest of the movie—nothing. No emotional pull.
Although, many of these classic horror movies may work in technical ways. Even with horrific monsters, they fail in the emotional arena. Hubs said this was the best of the movies we’ve watched so far…I can’t agree. I enjoyed American Werewolf more. “The Thing” felt distant. It was terrible. It had great special effects for a 1982 film. I suspect this story would have been really effective in print. But on film, visually, being inside the character’s mind, it lacked something.
The dogs—those poor beautiful animals—I felt for the dogs. Everyone else, I was hoping the alien would just eat em already so we could be done with it. That’s becoming a recurrent feeling these days, probably not a good sign.

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.