The Thing (1982)
When John Carpenter’s The Thing came out in 1982, reviewers seemed unable to look past the gruesome, repulsive visual effects of the movie to the heart of the movie itself. Yes, the effects are incredible (as is the Enrico Morricone soundtrack), but there was so much focus on the hideous piles of unearthly meat glopping about on-screen that very little attention was paid to what those disturbing effects were disturbing audiences for; the filmic lineage of The Thing proceeds as much from the locked-room mysteries of Agatha Christie as it does from monster-horror movies like the one it ostensibly remakes.
But inverting its the-butler-did-it detective story is what makes The Thing a real classic – it hides the truth of the mystery at its heart from both the characters and the audience, and it retains that mystery even after the credits roll. Who was claimed by the grisly thing from outer space? Who should Kurt Russell (as the iconic MacReady) trust? Who can survive the isolating cold of Antarctica? Who will be driven so out of their minds with panic and disgust that they break? What about you, audience? Who do you think remains? Who do you believe?
1982 / R / 1h 49m / Horror