Any list of the best horror movies that utilize practical FX will feature John Carpenter’s The Thing near the top spot; in addition to being one of the filmmaker’s most lauded offerings (perhaps second only to Halloween), it’s regarded as a paradigm of 1980s era horror, sci-fi-heavy horror, and films that genuinely have the power to scare the shit out of you. Still, ask your fellow horror fan what the best aspect of The Thing is, you’re likely to get the same answer: Those disgusting, nauseating, and brilliant creature FX.
While no one will argue the FX created by Rob Bottin were profound and harrowing, Irish film critic Ryan Hollinger believes the film’s blood & guts are just a reflection of the terror previously established by The Thing’s powerful scripting and dramatic performances. The morphing alien, he purports, is only perceived as the pinnacle of horror due to the pervasive sense of paranoia the builds steadily from the film’s opening sequence.
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Hollinger makes this point by exploring the film, as well as the novella Who Goes There by John W. Campbell, Jr., and the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, all in a manner that supports his hypothesis: That drama, not gore, is the driving source of the film’s terror. Have a watch and let us know in the Comments section if you agree.
Official Synopsis: In this video analysis series Screen Smart, Irish film critic Ryan Hollinger takes us on an in-depth exploration of what makes John Carpenter’s adaptation of John W. Campbell, Jr.’s novella Who Goes There? truly compelling. Hollinger looks at how Carpenter manipulates the audience by focusing on the emotion of the characters as a means to draw the viewer into his grotesque vision of an alien nightmare.
About Ryan Hollinger: Taking your favourite movies, games, art and entertainment and giving them the in-depth analytical treatment that both informs and delights, like licking the contents of an Oreo before eating the biscuit with your favourite tea or coffee, you self-indulgent git.
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Official Synopsis: In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both human beings and canines in the camp and they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and the camp doctor (Richard Dysart) lead the camp crew in a desperate, gory battle against the vicious creature before it picks them all off, one by one.