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Monday, October 26, 2020

Why ‘The Thing’ and ‘The Blob’ Make for a Perfect Horror Remake Double Feature

According to some, remakes do untold damage to childhoods the world over, leaving nothing but tears, regrets, and crumpled up memories in their wake. Obviously, the idea of redoing a beloved movie is a touchy subject for film fans as the results are sometimes less than stellar. In some cases, they’re not even adequate. But horror remakes fair a little better. Specifically, ones with a creative team with something on their mind or a singular perspective.

Every week in October, I’m suggesting a double feature of remakes for your Halloween viewing pleasures. The movies are connected and never random, even if the connection is not-so-obvious at first sight. Besides the fact we’re all dying for horror to watch during the spooky season, double features are great introductions to movies for the uninitiated. And for seasoned vets, watching two movies back-to-back can sometimes put them in a different light.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the picks.

What Are the Movies?

Four movies were the impetus for this entire endeavor, and these were the top two: John Carpenter’s The Thing and Chuck Russell’s The Blob. Remember last week when I said the 80s is horror’s most hallowed decade? No need to jog your memory; I definitely said it. Anyway, these two movies are quintessential reasons why. 

For the three or four of you reading this site who haven’t seen The Thing, it’s a remake of 1951’s The Thing from Another World. Like last week’s picks, Carpenter applies the basic idea about an alien attacking a group of researchers in Antarctica and creates a brand-new story that speaks to the 80s. Actually, given our current circumstances, it’s talking pretty loudly to 2020 as well. The Thing is about paranoia and distrust due to a shapeshifter that is basically, well, a virus. Coming a year after the AIDS epidemic in the United States began in earnest, it’s easy to see the movie as a parable for real-world issues. 

That’s all well and good, but Rob Bottin’s special effects are the real stars of the show. Pretty sure I’m not going out on a limb when I say the effects work is a big reason the movie doesn’t look or feel even slightly dated. In horror, filmmakers usually keep monsters in the shadows. Why? Because conventional wisdom says nothing they show us is more horrifying than what we conjure in our minds. The Thing is one of, if not the greatest horror movie of all time. One reason is that it throws that conventional wisdom out of every possible window in its vicinity. The creature design goes to places my mind wouldn’t dream of, much less consciously conjure. The beauty of dealing with a shapeshifting alien is it can be anything. The titular “Thing” is a combination of every species on every planet it’s ever assimilated, allowing Bottin and his crew to go nuts. The practical effects are a spoonful of horror sugar to the film’s medicine of nihilism

And then there’s The Blob, which feels like cotton candy confection, even without comparisons to The Thing. Trading in the ’50s Midwest small-town setting for an ’80s west coast small town, the movie is about, big surprise, an amorphous blob come to earth. Rather than make friends, it attacks this sleepy, little California town and rips apart the city’s Americana veneer. Yeah, The Blob satirizes 1950s culture while paying it homage but never forgets to be a scary movie. In what comes as a shock to no one at all, the team responsible for one of the best Freddy Krueger movies understands the perfect balance of humor, horror, and intelligence. 

The movie is called The Blob for a reason, and it delivers. Obviously, the design is simple, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. The creature crushes people, phone booths, people, guns, animals, and of course, more people. The blob idea is more than a little silly, but the special effects team creates something not to be laughed at even a little bit. The Blob grows and can extend tendrils. It can be in one place, like a kitchen, hiding in plain sight. It can be everywhere and nowhere all at once and only has one weakness. No, I’m not telling what the defect is because that wouldn’t be any fun. But in another testament to how well-written the movie is, the blob’s fatal flaw is “set up and payoff” at its finest.

Okay, Why These Two?

Why not these two? They’re both ’80s remakes of ’50s classics and feature some of the best practical effects in the genre, much less the decade. Both films make the ’50s relevant to the ’80s, almost as if they’re on the same wavelength. The Blob lays its more jaded 1980s worldview on top of idealism and nostalgia of the 1950s. The Thing takes a 1950s staple—alien invasions—and turns it into an unseen virus that shines a light on humanity’s worst qualities. And that light is visible even in the darkest of winter nights in the Antarctic. They’re both a lot of fun in their very own ways and stand the test of time as watershed moments.

The Thing and The Blob were dope in the ’80s, and they’re just as good in October 2020.

Maybe even better. 



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3638388/thing-blob-make-perfect-horror-remake-double-feature/

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