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Midnight Madness: John Carpenter’s The Thing

A Remake Worth Watching

Above: "The Thing"

Remakes usually aren't worth seeking out but John Carpenter's 1982 remake of "The Thing From Another World" (1951) is definitely worth a look. Carpenter's "The Thing" plays tonight at midnight at Landmark's Ken Cinema.

Carpenter's "The Thing" and the 1951 original both use the same premise: scientists working in Antarctica encounter an alien being that proves quite lethal. In the original film, the alien is described as something akin to a vegetable in that it can regenerate its severed limbs. Carpenter tweaks the plot to create an atmosphere of paranoia. His alien being is a shape shifter that can turn itself into anything, including someone you know. So the tension and horror comes from not knowing if your best friend is still your best friend or if it is the alien creature masquerading as him or her.

"The Thing," unlike "The Royal Tennenbaums," is perfect midnight viewing material. It's fun, intense, has a cult following, and can withstand a talkiy midnight movie crowd. Now some banter and audience interaction is expected and even desired at a midnight screening but if it's just one person acting like he's in his living room and thinking he's a crack up while everyone else in the theater is yelling for him to shut up, well that's not good. But "The Thing" is tough enough to deal with just about anything.

Kurt Russell, who worked so well with Carpenter in "Escape From New York," is great here. He's one of Hollywood's more underrated actors so it's good to see films like "The Thing" resurface on the big screen. So go and enjoy! See you there.

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