On two previous occasions, I’ve live-blogged or -tweeted my reactions to movies while gulping down an entire bottle of wine. I really don’t drink; those instances are among the maybe two or three times I touch alcohol a year, and certainly the only times I get good and tipsy. It’s a state I find I enjoy once in a blue moon and with good cinematic accompaniment.
This New Year’s Eve, I sat down with a bottle of wine courtesy of friend and occasional collaborator Riley Byrne and a batch of brownies I had baked just that evening. My film of choice: John Carpenter’s 1982 sci fi body horror masterpiece The Thing, not so much a remake of Howard Hawks’ 1951 The Thing from Another World as a more faithful re-adaptation of its source material, John W. Campbell’s novella Who Goes There?
Though—justifiably—remembered for its revolting creature effects, the work of VFX and makeup artist Rob Bottin, The Thing is a master class in atmosphere, suspense and genuine paranoia, demonstrated especially well in its infamous “blood test scene.” Apart from starring Kurt Russell in his stoic, grizzled prime, Carpenter’s film also features great performances by veteran character actors Keith David, Wilford Brimley and David Clennon, among quite a few others. It’s a disgusting yet truly tense affair, as well as one of my favourite movies, and I’m happy to share my quite uninhibited thoughts and feelings toward it from a few nights ago.
8:59 I first watched The Thing in my first year of university. While we're still being serious, this movie is paranoia distilled.
9:00 Along with The Shining, which I tipsily liveblogged last New Year's, this is one of my go-to movies during the winter.
9:01 It's perfect to watch on a really cold or a really blustery winter night. Enhances that feeling of being trapped.
9:02 My wine tonight is a Linden Bay shiraz. I'd name a year but it doesn't appear to have one. Ah well. I would have settled on Thunderbird if given the opportunity.
Despite being synth-laden in the vein of most John Carpenter scores, this movie's music was composed by Ennio Morricone of all people.
9:03 If you don't recognize the man's name, you'll certainly recognize his work: he composed the score to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
9:04 I really need to stop capping this bottle in between sips. And yes, I am foregoing a glass.
And at the five minute mark we are treated to our first glimpse of Kurt Russell and his glrious, glorious beard and mane.
9:05 The man is for all intents and purposes a lion in this movie.
9:06 This movie, along with Werner Herzog's documentary Encounters at the End of the World, make me want to visit Antarctica at least once.
9:07 Considering I have next to no inclination to travel outside of my own province, that's saying something.
9:08 This movie has the perfect cast of "that guy"s. There's Keith David, Wilford Brimley, Donald Moffatt and Richard Masur! And with the exception of Charles "Norris" Hallahan they're all still alive.
9:10 Carpenter's movies all have great photography but The Thing looks fantastic. The Blu Ray actually manages to subtly enhance the lighting.
...and that was the geekiest thing I've ever written.
9:11 Shit, I should have figured out beforehand whether wine pairs well with brownies.
If you're the kind of person who listens to movie commentaries, check out the one for this movie.
9:12 Just two hours of John Carpenter and Kurt Russell smoking cigarettes and reminiscing about how much fun they had making this.
9:13 It took me a couple viewings to realize that Copper, the fiftysomething doctor, has a nosering.
9:14 I actually really like how Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious" is used in this flick.
9:15 Some more great sound design: the omnipresent muffled howling of the wind, similarly used in Black Christmas, another excellent horror movie
9:16 The suspenseful strings that play when Mac and Doc explore the Norwegian camp is the closest this score gets to conventional.
9:17 Otherwise it's those creepy, restrained, thudding synths.
9:19 Good God Kurt Russell's hair is wonderful. I wish I could emulate it.
9:20 People who think this liveblogging is sad/weird: I'd rather be doing this than attending a crowded party/club/gathering.
9:21 Not trying to be defensive but damn I think that stuff sucks.
9:22 God, some of Rob Bottin's designs for The Thing are genuinely disgusting.
9:23 Also Rob Bottin is deLIGHTful.
9:25 Oh Wilford Brimley, you cockfighting-promoting, diabeetus-having son of a gun.
9:26 Let's just appreciate that barely anyone blinks an eye at Palmer (David Clennon) lighting up a joint in the station rec room.
Uggghhh that is a creepy dog.
9:30 Ohhhhh fuck that dog-thing.
9:35 "How long were you alone with that dog?" This scene has some unintentional subtext.
9:39 Man, Norris guesstimated the shit out of the age of that rock.
9:40 Keith David cannot believe any of this voodoo bullshit.
"Childs? Childs. Chariots of the gods, man. They practically own South America."
9:43 Okay, who gave Wilford Brimley a gun?
9:45 Just a warning: from here on out I'll be spoiling who's the Thing.
9:47 The sound Bennings-Thing lets out is just horrifying.
9:53 "THAT THING WANTED TO BE UUUSSSS"
When Wilford Brimley dies I hope "I'LL KEEELL YOOOUUU" will be his epitaph.
9:54 Man, Kurt Russell just punched the heck out of Wilford Brimley.
9:58 I love how the moment Clarke lifts a finger in protest five people tackle him. Poor Richard Masur.
10:03 Kurt Russell is the only person who could make drinking J&B scotch look appealing.
10:04 Carpenter has a neat trick of having people both in the foreground in background in focus for certain shots, rather than either/or.
10:06 Poor Fuchs. He has the most undignified death.
10:10 Man, Norris' heart condition comes out of nowhere.
10:12 SUPPLY WINDOW
10:14 Yeah, untie the Doc, because he's perfectly fine to do emergecy surgery after being doped up with morphine.
10:15 OH JESUS
10:17 "You gotta be fucking kidding."
10:19 Aaaaaaand now we get to the blood test scene. In the most paranoid movie ever made, this is its most paranoid scene.
10:24 Poor Windows. :( The Thomas Waites character, not the operating system.
10:26 "I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of the winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!"
10:29 Most of the rest of this movie is just explosions.
10:31 BULLDOZING WALLS
10:32 Ahhhhh yes, our hitherto unmentioned basement.
10:34 So did the Thing just *eat* the generator?
10:37 It's creepy how Nauls just *disappears*.
10:38 "Yeah, FUCK YOU TOO."
10:41 "Why don't we just wait here for a little while, see what happens?"
yayyyyy ambiguous endings
10:42 And that's it for The Thing! I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year's!
Huh, all things considered I started out with some pretty decent analysis. Of course, when wine is introduced into the equation, that all goes to pot. Enjoy this Sloshedblog for now, as you probably won’t be seeing one for close to a year.