Finally the big day has arrived!
Yes, it’s time to reveal the #1 horror film in my countdown of my 11 favourite horror films. And the winner is…
#1 “The Thing” (1982)
I’ve already stated on this blog that 1982 was a banner year for horror films. But no horror film of that year, or any other year in my opinion, comes close to holding a candle to John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’.
When ‘The Thing’ was released in 1982 it found itself in direct competition to a schmaltzy, sickly sweet, toe curling film called ‘E.T’ (nope, I’ve never heard of it either). Speilberg’s juggernault decimated all the other films released in 1982 and the film most trampled in it’s wake was Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. Personally I was too young (being but a twelve year old in the Summer of ’82) to see it at the cinema. I did read all about it in Fangoria and of course I read Alan Dean Foster’s novelisation.
But that book was no match for the sights that actually were revealed in the movie. Let me just say now, for the record, if you were one of the people who was old enough in ’82 to see ‘The Thing’ and you didn’t, then fuck you and the horse you rode in on. Thankfully, despite bombing at the box office, ‘The Thing’ found a whole new life, and audience, on VHS. This is where I first encountered it ( in pan and scan) and it became a firm favourite. It seems that every time I sit down and watch the movie I find something else to love about it, so let’s briefly discuss some of the qualities that make ‘The Thing’ not only the greatest horror movie ever made but the greatest movie ever made full stop. And anyone that disagrees can see me outside in the car park afterwards.
Carpenter’s direction here is assured and skillful. The beauty and splendour of the snowscapes are captured perfectly immediately indicating isolation. Once again, as in the case of ‘The Fog’ and countless others films, Dean Cundey does a sterling job as DP.
The score by Ennio Morricone is as understated and as accomplished as anything he has done before and he does a magnificent job of channeling Carpenter’s style.
The script. It’s funny, it’s human, but more importantly it’s true. Characters behave as you are I would behave. There are no heroics here just people living, working, and ultimately fighting for their lives and their humanity.
The cast. Wow! What a cast. Everyone performs superbly. Kurt Russell is outstanding as the anti hero MacReady and yet even he doesn’t steal the show. The film is truly an ensemble piece with equal merit going to the likes of Moffat, Brimley, Carter et al.
Finally there are those special effects from Rob Bottin. Remember, no CGI was hurt during the making of this movie. These are physical effects folks and they work perfectly. I swear, at times, I could almost smell this movie (rotting cabbage and sweaty socks, if you’re asking).
Listen to the commentary by Carpenter and Russell (it’s available on most DVD’s and Blu Rays) and it sounds like everyone had fun making this movie and that comes across in the final cut. Damn it, it’s one fun film!
So there you have it. ‘The Thing’ wins out and I make no apologies for that. There were plenty of films I had to overlook in this list, many I love dearly. So for that reason I present my list of honourable mentions;
‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch’ (1982)
The Shining’ (1980)
‘The Haunting’ (1963)
‘An American Werewolf In London’ (1981)
‘Cat People’ (1982)
‘Videodrome’ (1982 – See, I told you 1982 was great!)
‘Dead of Night’ (1945)
‘Doctor Terror’s House of Horrors’ (1965)
To be honest I could go on all day listing horror films on my ‘love’ list so I have to draw the line here, but I guess you get the idea.
I hope you have enjoyed these last few days with me, counting down my favourite 11 horror films of all time and I hope you all have a scary, safe and fun Halloween.