I Found It At the Movies: 1982—The Thing (John Carpenter)


Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.

1982: The Thing (John Carpenter)

Let me start by admitting that I really don’t know this or next year’s film all that well. I’ve only seen each of them once, and it’s been many years since then, but I’ll do my best to recollect.  

I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, where it would only snow and stick about once every five years, so snow was always a major event and a magical time. I’ve decided that this has spilled over into my film-watching, since I now have a real affinity for films with snow. Fargo, AfflictionThe Sweet HereafterMcCabe & Mrs. MillerNightfall and On Dangerous Ground all rank among my favorites. Of course, all contain some scenes with snow.  

I don’t want to undersell The Thing as being a film that I like simply because it has snow. It also features one of my favorite Kurt Russell performances, a contained dread similar to what Ridley Scott provided in the first Alien and one of the most sustained and beautiful cold color palettes of any movie I’ve ever seen.

I don’t know Carpenter’s body of work as well as I would like. But this one, along with Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13, definitely make me want to do something about that very soon.

What moviemakers can learn: The Thing features a story that’s now been made into three different movies—1951‘s The Thing From Another World, Carpenter’s The Thing and this year’s identically-named prequel. You can learn a great deal about directing style by watching the three different versions and studying how each director approaches the same basic material.  

Other contenders for 1982: I still have some things to see from this year, among them Eric Rohmer’s A Good Marriage (Le beau mariage). I need to revisit Costa-Gavras’ Missing, as it’s been too long since I’ve seen it to know where it would place on this list. I love Wim Wenders’ The State of Things, and my closest runner-up is Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo.

After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.

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