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arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)

SubjectAuthor
* JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)Mark Leeper
+- Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)Paul S Person
+- Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)Bice
`- Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)Jack Bohn

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JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)

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Subject: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)
From: mlee...@optonline.net (Mark Leeper)
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 by: Mark Leeper - Sun, 5 Jun 2022 15:22 UTC

June 25 is the fortieth anniversary of the release of JOHN
CARPENTER'S THE THING (not to be confused with THE THING FROM
ANOTHER WORLd (1951) or THE THING (2011)). Given that it is forty
years old, and based on a story that is about seventy-five years
old, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! Briefly, this is a logic puzzle mixed
with an alien invasion story.

I started by saying, "My reaction to the opening of this film was
different from other people's. This film is based on "Who Goes
There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr., opens with a helicopter chasing a
dog across a large snowy field. Now I generally like dogs and with
this one my usual reaction would have been rooting for the dog but
being very familiar with the story, my reaction was "Get that
sucker!"

For that matter, the Norwegian spoken by the pilot at the beginning
of the film gives away the plot, shouting that the dog isn't really
a dog, it's some sort of thing imitating a dog.

While this was not exactly John Carpenter's breakthrough film--it
came after after DARK STAR, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, HALLOWEEN, and
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK--but it may well be his best film. However,
it was a commercial and critical flop at the time, and only over
the years has its gained the stature that it has. (It scores 8.2
out of 10 on the IMDB, and 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.)

The original story, and the first movie, were set in the Arctic,
but this movie is moved to Antarctica. When the story was written,
and the first movie made, permanent bases were fairly common in the
Arctic, but not in Antarctica. Moving it to Antarctica gives it
some hints of H. P. Lovecraft and the Elder Gods.

It might help one's understanding of the film if one can remember
what characters had what names, but personally I have never found
anyone who could keep the characters straight. Is that perhaps to
emphasize how they are all part of a Protean entity with no
permanent individuality?

Jed the dog deserves an acting award. I'm serious about that.
This dog is better than Boris Karloff at appearing menacing and
also mysterious. And he never looked at the camera, the dolly, or
the crew (which is a common acting animal problem).

Here you have a base made up mostly of scientists, and the only one
really thinking is the helicopter pilot? (In the original movie
it's the airplane pilot and the secretary. There seems to be some
implication that she has some scientific position, but we see her
typing, making coffee, and doing other non-scientific stuff.)

Childs (Keith David)'s voice may be familiar, since he has narrated
many PBS documentaries. Other than Ken Russell and Wilford
Brimley, though, there are not a lot of familiar faces (which may
be why it's hard to keep the characters straight).

Rating: +3 (-4 to +4), or 9/10.

Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)

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From: psper...@old.netcom.invalid (Paul S Person)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.movies
Subject: Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)
Date: Sun, 05 Jun 2022 08:49:05 -0700
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 by: Paul S Person - Sun, 5 Jun 2022 15:49 UTC

On Sun, 5 Jun 2022 08:22:10 -0700 (PDT), Mark Leeper
<mleeper@optonline.net> wrote:

>June 25 is the fortieth anniversary of the release of JOHN
>CARPENTER'S THE THING (not to be confused with THE THING FROM
>ANOTHER WORLd (1951) or THE THING (2011)). Given that it is forty
>years old, and based on a story that is about seventy-five years
>old, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! Briefly, this is a logic puzzle mixed
>with an alien invasion story.
>
>I started by saying, "My reaction to the opening of this film was
>different from other people's. This film is based on "Who Goes
>There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr., opens with a helicopter chasing a
>dog across a large snowy field. Now I generally like dogs and with
>this one my usual reaction would have been rooting for the dog but
>being very familiar with the story, my reaction was "Get that
>sucker!"

It lost points with me at that point and kept going downhill.

Note that I /really/ like the original!

>For that matter, the Norwegian spoken by the pilot at the beginning
>of the film gives away the plot, shouting that the dog isn't really
>a dog, it's some sort of thing imitating a dog.
>
>While this was not exactly John Carpenter's breakthrough film--it
>came after after DARK STAR, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, HALLOWEEN, and
>ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK--but it may well be his best film. However,
>it was a commercial and critical flop at the time, and only over
>the years has its gained the stature that it has. (It scores 8.2
>out of 10 on the IMDB, and 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.)
>
>The original story, and the first movie, were set in the Arctic,
>but this movie is moved to Antarctica. When the story was written,
>and the first movie made, permanent bases were fairly common in the
>Arctic, but not in Antarctica. Moving it to Antarctica gives it
>some hints of H. P. Lovecraft and the Elder Gods.

I suppose it might. It didn't matter to me, one way or the other.

I said I really liked the original, I never said a new version
couldn't change the location, pointless as that might be.

Snow, after all, is /snow/, whether Arctic or Antarctic, so the
scenery is the same.

>It might help one's understanding of the film if one can remember
>what characters had what names, but personally I have never found
>anyone who could keep the characters straight. Is that perhaps to
>emphasize how they are all part of a Protean entity with no
>permanent individuality?

Or is it because the filmmakers had no understanding of the use of
makeup and characterization to distinguish the characters?

I had the same problem with one of the earlier Avengers movies -- we
saw five or six male Avengers (plus one or two females), but they were
not in uniform, and I couldn't tell one from another.

>Jed the dog deserves an acting award. I'm serious about that.
>This dog is better than Boris Karloff at appearing menacing and
>also mysterious. And he never looked at the camera, the dolly, or
>the crew (which is a common acting animal problem).

Take a look at the trailer to the 1934 /The Black Cat/ and consider
how it uses Karloff to inspire awe and fear in the audience -- by
showing him sitting up in bed.

Can the dog do that? I suspect not.

Also, just because none of the /footage/ shows the dog looking at the
camera, the dolly, or the crew doesn't mean he/she didn't do so. It
just means they managed to piece together enough of his takes to avoid
the problem.

You are right about animal actors, though. The DVD of /Brotherhood of
the Wolf/ has a short film which includes footage showing what they
went through to get a lamb to do what they wanted rather than what it
wanted. Nothing dangerous; they just wanted to shoot it browsing in a
specific location. A lot of coaxing was required, as it had other
ideas.

>Here you have a base made up mostly of scientists, and the only one
>really thinking is the helicopter pilot? (In the original movie
>it's the airplane pilot and the secretary. There seems to be some
>implication that she has some scientific position, but we see her
>typing, making coffee, and doing other non-scientific stuff.)

She also takes his notes for him, which would require a certain
familiarity with scientific terminology, if only to be able to spell
the words he uses. And trusted to keep any sensitive information
private. Then again, she could be a grad student, who can say?

>Childs (Keith David)'s voice may be familiar, since he has narrated
>many PBS documentaries. Other than Ken Russell and Wilford
>Brimley, though, there are not a lot of familiar faces (which may
>be why it's hard to keep the characters straight).
>
>Rating: +3 (-4 to +4), or 9/10.
--
"I begin to envy Petronius."
"I have envied him long since."

Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)

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Subject: Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2022 11:21:12 GMT
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 by: Bice - Mon, 6 Jun 2022 11:21 UTC

On Sun, 5 Jun 2022 08:22:10 -0700 (PDT), Mark Leeper
<mleeper@optonline.net> wrote:

>June 25 is the fortieth anniversary of the release of JOHN
>CARPENTER'S THE THING (not to be confused with THE THING FROM
>ANOTHER WORLd (1951) or THE THING (2011)). Given that it is forty
>years old, and based on a story that is about seventy-five years
>old, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! Briefly, this is a logic puzzle mixed
>with an alien invasion story.

My dad was a big fan of the 1951 movie, so he insisted that I go see
Carpenter's version in the theater with him. I was 14 at the time.
That movie thoroughly traumatized me. Put me off horror movies for
years. I mean, it was an R rated movie, but my dad assumed it would
be about as scary as the version from the 50s (which I later saw on TV
and was amused by how tame it was).

Anyway, I watched Carpenter's Thing again as an adult and if you can
deal with the gore, the whole paranoia aspect of being trapped in an
isolated, remote location and not knowing which members of your group
may or may not be monsters is pretty compelling.

-- Bob

Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)

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Subject: Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)
From: jack.boh...@gmail.com (Jack Bohn)
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 by: Jack Bohn - Mon, 6 Jun 2022 11:32 UTC

Mark Leeper wrote:
> June 25 is the fortieth anniversary of the release of JOHN
> CARPENTER'S THE THING (not to be confused with THE THING FROM
> ANOTHER WORLd (1951) or THE THING (2011)). Given that it is forty
> years old, and based on a story that is about seventy-five years
> old, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! Briefly, this is a logic puzzle mixed
> with an alien invasion story.
>
> It might help one's understanding of the film if one can remember
> what characters had what names, but personally I have never found
> anyone who could keep the characters straight. Is that perhaps to
> emphasize how they are all part of a Protean entity with no
> permanent individuality?

I only ever saw it the once, and I generally blame not distinguishing characters on myself.
There is a podcast: "The Thing in Character"
https://neozaz.com/category/podcasts/ttic/
I followed over from other podcasts they'd done, and as a primer if I ever do watch it again.
As they explain in their intro, they go through character by character examining the story of each.
(They had the advantage of watching it multiple times as projectionists back in the day.)

--
-Jack


arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / Re: JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)

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