Nightmare Nostalgia Presents Creature Feature: An ongoing tip of the hat to some of horror’s greatest monsters throughout the genre that don’t seem to get the recognition they wholeheartedly deserve.
Last October, some friends, the better half, and myself witnessed the glorious spectacle of John Carpenter live in concert. Now, normally I never bother to leave my Gollum cave of gloom and somber for shows and concerts these days unless it’s totally worth sliding some pants on for. But hey, this was John fuckin’ Carpenter and his orchestra playing the theme songs to some of horror’s finest films- his films. I sure as shit wasn’t going to pass this up and just as I had expected, it was a night to never be forgotten. From Halloween, They Live, and of course today’s focal point The Thing, it was a perfect way to head into Devil’s Night last October.
With what is arguably (I guess) one of John Carpenter’s greatest pieces of cinematic art turning 36 this week, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk a little about the goddamn Norris-Thing. In the 1982 film, we see a handful of variations of this “thing” ranging from an ordinary human, a cute husky, also a not-so-cute halfway transformed husky, to well-something ungodly such as this. Which in itself, comes in three (3) count em, forms of infested Norris all in under five minutes.
The poor geologist at the heart of the chaos located at Outpost 31 had suffered a heart attack, (could you really blame the guy for his life-pumper giving out under the circumstances?) His fellow comrades rushed a dying Norris to the medical ward in an attempt to jump-start his heart and holy eight-legged-fucks was that the worst idea ever.
In the case anyone here is unfamiliar haven not seen the film (for-shame), The Thing centers around a parasitic extraterrestrial life force that likes to imitate other organisms, thus ensuring an overabundant amount of paranoia in the group as everyone suspects each other as an “infected host”.
We good? Ok, back to Norris dying on the table.
Anyway, the defibrillator is shocking away and low and behold everyone, Norris was indeed a host for this otherworldly leech as the thing begins to extract himself from the ribcage of Norris and immediately defend itself. Norris’ chest transforms into a jaw trap so powerful, even Bruce the shark would be a little envious. After chomping away at what the Thing deems as an attack on itself, (stupid alien doesn’t know what a heart attack is), it mutates even further into a Norris-Snake-Thing that again, would give Freddy-Snake a run for his money. Enter the action of Kurt Russell, our epically bearded hero to the rescue and a flame-thrower to the Norris-Thing it is. In the midst of the fire and flames, the Norris-Thing head tears away from its presently incinerating body, grows some spider-like legs and Linda Blair crab-walks it’s happy little self across the room inducing all the skeevies and dingleberries from fellow Outposters.
A few thoughts:
As I so eloquently stated above, it always sort of bothered me how this alien parasite didn’t realize he had copied a defective heart along with the rest of Norris. I guess I would just assume the alien would automatically see through that flaw with some alien-type goggles in its DNA, but we all know when you assume, you make an ass out of “u” and me. It’s just a little thing that I always thought about during that scene, not slamming it all mind you. Just sharing what goes on with hamster wheel in my head.
What makes this scene in particular so effectively terrifying above all others, (IMHO), is the “thing” shows just what lengths it will go to survive. Sure the monster magic is insanely gorgeous. I might even say, revolutionary for its time. And sure enough, induces all the skeevies inside you to come popping out to say, “Oh hello old friend!” Especially if you have a phobia of snakes, spiders, or severed heads with insect legs altogether. The point of the matter is, like a true ’80s slasher, it comes coming. It has an agenda and will stop at nothing to reach its goal. This “thing” could literally be anywhere, anyone, or any living thing. That’s the really terrifying part, my friends.
Because it takes a village to raise a child, and apparently a huge team of artists to make movie magic like this happen, I wanted to include this clip from CineFix. Which wonderfully showcases some behind the scenes action, facts, and trivia with director John Carpenter, Norris (Charles Hallahan), and crew involving this scene in particular. Also, here’s an Amazon link because right now, there’s a hot deal on the Blu-Ray for only $7.88!! If you don’t own it yet, now is a great time to snatch this classic up.
Happy Unofficial Thing Day!