“You have to embrace the darkness,” film editor Todd Ramsay told director John Carpenter. “That’s where this movie is. In the darkness.”
The Thing (Carpenter, 1982) is bathed in darkness, even though it happens to be set in a landscape of blinding whiteness. Whether it’s the black and blue palate, the ingenious/throwback use of fade outs, shadows, masks, coverings, or the lack of a key light to indicate which of the human inhabitants of United States National Science Institute Outpost 31 have been taken over, darkness pervades every nook and cranny. After the span of several decades and a reexamination of the film (critically and commercially panned at the time), I think a lot of us see this as more than just a “geek show” as Roger Ebert called it, and more than just a scary movie.
I’m particularly attracted to stories of exploration and survival, and especially those around the sea and the Poles. I like to think about what brought those characters to that outpost, and that setting. They must have been attracted to the isolation, to the silence, or to the escape from “civilization” possibly. They landed at a place where you have the same game shows to watch, where your introductory conversations and getting-to-know-you’s are long since in the past, and where something or someone can be too loud and drive you mad. This setting, due to its very nature, must strip away individuality in order for the larger work to be accomplished, and where a loss of humanity may not be noticed. And then, The Thing is introduced, and the questions of who is human, and what does it mean to be human, are suddenly critical as never before.
So then, how do you know you’re human, when that humanity has been slowly worn away in this environment? And how do you identify the humans from the monsters?
What you’ll find in this episode: computer chess, slipshod alien autopsy protocol, cool dogs, hot wires, and that hat.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out The Thing on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Moon.
Cole’s further viewing pick of A Cold Night’s Death.
The current weather at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
Who Goes There? by John Campbell.