85: “The Chameleon Strikes In The Dark” – The Thing

Is this a podcast, or is it merely pretending to be? It’s 2020, so we’re celebrating the holidays a little differently this year. We’ve swapped twitching tentacles for twinkling lights, exploding wolfdogs for red-nosed reindeer, lighting killer space beasts aflame for roasting chestnuts, and a creeping existential dread for jolly good cheer. Ho, ho, ho!

The 1980s saw a revival of 50s sci-fi B-movies, with notable remakes offering similarly bizarre chills and thrills with one major upgrade — some of the most stomach-churning special effects ever put to the screen. John Carpenter’s THE THING (1982) is a horror staple now, but it wasn’t so warmly received when it opened for audiences who had just fallen in love with Spielberg’s cuddly alien pal E.T., and Carpenter’s career never fully recovered.

We discuss how late 20th century horror masters took the traditions of drive-in camp classics and made them their own with gross-out gore and cringey body horror, then hunker down and contend with The Thing in all its goopy, arm-chomping glory. Did Carpenter’s classic deserve to be left out in the cold? Or was it a masterpiece merely imitating a box office bomb? Zip up your parka, secure your blood bags, and prepare for a not-so-silent night, because this is one story of immaculate reproduction that isn’t so blessed.

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