The scariest movie ever made — and that’s just a fact — is John Carpenter’s The Thing, about a shape-shifting alien buried in Antarctic ice for thousands of years, until it’s dug up by a team of scientists. Carpenter’s aim was to create a horror movie with a group of competent, educated protagonists, rather than screaming co-eds. It’s tense, claustrophobic, and unbelievably, creatively gory. When cornered, Thing impostors erupt in a cloud of tentacles, teeth, and shapeshifting, spider-legged horror that would have killed me dead on the spot if I had been taken to see the movie in 1982. This movie makes 1979’s Alien look like My Pretty Pony. It’s one of the canonical “Kill It With Fire” trope movies.
It’s also required viewing, my friend Alejandro tells me, for recruits newly assigned to McMurdo Station in Antartica. Eesh!
Anyhow, I discovered that Swank Motion Pictures in Illinois does indeed have a 16MM print of The Thing. And not only a print, but a “Scope” print, which means that the widescreen image has been compressed into the square space on the film stock. You need a special “scope” lens to widen the image to the correct widescreen format — and now I own one! Thanks very much to Ted the Fiddler, projectionist from the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, for getting me set up with a supplier. The lens arrived in an awesome pebbbled-vinyl case lined with red velveteen, and the number “2” hand-painted on the top.
So, what does this all mean? It means that the West Chester Guerilla Drive-In will be having its first ever winter showing. I’ll wait for a deep fall of snow. The first snowy Friday or Saturday night, we’ll be showing John Carpenter’s The Thing in glowing, rich, lifelike color; widescreen — somewhere in the middle of a remote snowfield, and you’ll need to walk across the snowy tundra to get there. JUST LIKE KURT RUSSELL.
For your trip across the snowfield, bring your fur-trimmed parka, a hand-warmer (or a flamethrower), and a petri dish. Guerilla Drive-In members will get a last-minute email with the date and location. For this showing, we can skip the formalities of the MacGuffin; send me an email if you’d like to come!
Here’s the trailer:
…and here’s a collection of the most intense parts from the movie. For god’s sake, don’t watch it unless you know what you’re doing! It’s bad enough in the safety of your own home. Imagine watching this thing in the exposed, arctic darkness. Anything could be out there in that darkness, and with the snow all around you’d probably hear it coming before you could see it…
See you there!