* Finish my shift and head to Bloor for a screening of Palo Alto. During my shift I began to kick myself for not exchanging that ticket for something else – an additional screening of August: Osage County had been added (that sold out fast, admittedly) and I never did get to Rigor Mortis. However, I decide to make the best of it and settle in for some tales from James Franco’s hometown.

* Palo Alto is actually better than I had expected! I was pleasantly surprised with the “realistic” portrayal of teenagers in the film – usually I find realistic teen films to be hyper-stylized and over the top. Yeah, kids were drinking and having sex, but it wasn’t over the top. There wasn’t any bullying, no one was depressed and acting out, they were just… kids. Jack Kilmer (son of Batman) plays one of the leads and he’s great in it. All the kids are great in it, really, Aside from Emma Roberts they’re all fairly unknown and that helps with the believability of the film; they all seem like actual kids you might know. Definitely worth a watch, I think.

* Leave Bloor Hot Docs to come back to Scotiabank. The day before an additional screening of Finding Vivian Maier was announced and I was able to procure tickets for Allison and myself. I am tired, but I’ve been dying to see the film since it was announced so I’m pretty psyched.

* Finding Vivian Maier does not disappoint. It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking look into the life of a prolific photographer whose work isn’t discovered until after her death. A very private, incredibly talented, and often times dark person, Vivian’s life and the memories those that knew her have of her are as intriguing as her art itself. I really want to own one of her prints now.

* Midnight Madness is once again a bust. I hate not going, I miss the crowds and the atmosphere, but I just can’t do it when I work at 7:30 the next morning. This is something to keep in mind for next year when planning my work schedule.


Palo Alto – Liked it. A lot more than I thought I would, actually. It wasn’t too fancy or too flashy, it’s not particularly controversial or risqué (though there is a plot point about James Franco and Emma Roberts that made me a little squeamish), it’s just a simple, honest look at teenage life. Gia Coppolla, I am on board.

Finding Vivian Maier – LOVED it. Such a wonderful film. It was funny, it was touching, it was upsetting… I am endlessly fascinated with this woman and want to know everything I can about her.



* Despite it being my shortest shift of the Festival, work DRAAAAAAAGGGGGGS on. There’s practically nothing to do all day and I am counting the hours until I am free.

* Get off work at noon (THANK YOU BRITA!) and head to Ryerson to see Don Jon. I am lined up forever and starting to nod off a little in line but I am very excited – I’ve been wanting to see JGL’s directorial debut ever since it was announced.

* Sadly, Joe has left T.O., so there is no Q&A and no opportunity to meet him. I won’t lie, I’m pretty bummed out. I was genuinely expecting him to be there at least to do a Q&A. I am now really kicking myself for not stalking the red carpet for the premiere. I could have gotten in on this!

* Confession: I really loved this movie, and I am pretty sure it’s almost entirely because I am biased. Do I think it’s his best film? No. As far as directorial debuts go, it wasn’t the best I’ve seen. But guess what: it wasn’t the worst either. I thought it was funny, I thought both he and ScarJo were great in it (and I’m not usually the biggest Scarlet fan) and I thought it was an interesting story. As far as his first foray into directing I thought it was a promising start and I am definitely still fully on board the JGL love train. That said, I will fault no one who completely disagrees with me.

* After Don Jon, I meet up with Vanya for a P&I of Dom Hemingway. I honestly don’t think I have ever loved Jude Law more, and I am including my favourite SNL skit of all time where he and Seth Meyers play drunken Michael Caine and Peter O’Toole. He was funny, sexy, and just all around cool as hell. I was expecting a bit more of a crime caper, but was pleasantly surprised by how little capering there was and how much of it was Jude Law running around in various states of undress giving loud, articulate monologues on everything from how he will win back his daughter’s affections to how perfect his own penis is. It has a bit of a Guy Ritchie feel to it, and the story could use more fleshing out, but everyone needs to see it for Jude Law’s performance alone.

* Turns out that Vanya has an extra ticket for Blind Detective that she can give me. I was going to try and rush Tom at the Farm but decide that a guaranteed ticket to a film I wanted to see trumps waiting in line for a potential ticket to a film I wanted to see. Plus, James and Natasha are going to Blind Detective as well so we all get to sit together.

* I am not particularly familiar with Johnnie To’s work going into the film, but I am definitely a fan by the end. It was so much funnier than I expected it to be! Somehow the movie is both action/thriller and romantic comedy, and it does both perfectly. Loved the leads, loved the story, loved the humour… I will definitely be seeking out more of Johnnie To’s work now. Vanya is a long-time fan so she has officially made me a convert.

* Once again, I find myself getting out a screening too late to get to Midnight Madness. Once again I am disappointed because Rigor Mortis really intrigued me. The biggest downside of working all morning shifts is that it means I have to sacrifice Midnight Madness in the name of more galas and premiere screenings. I am honestly not sure if I prefer this change or not.


Don Jon – Loved it. But I love everything he does. I really do think it’s funny though, and worth checking out if for no other reason than to hear Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson and Tony Danza do their best impressions of folks from New Jersey.

Dom Hemingway – Loved it. Jude Law is stocky, scarred, and tears up the screen. It is the sexiest I have ever found him.

Blind Detective – Loved it. The action scenes were fantastic but the humour was even better. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


* Get to work and meet Brita, my new best friend. Not only does she agree to come in early so I can go to Don Jon the next day, she informs me she takes tap dance classes and says she’ll send me info on beginners classes. Should I take up tap dancing guys? I kinda really want to…

* Finish work and immediate join the rush line for Bad Hair. It is hot as balls outside and people are GRUMPY. My cousin Mike wanders by and our tradition of just randomly running into each other during the Festival is still in tact.

* Bad Hair was fantastically heartbreaking. It’s a Venezuelan film about a young boy who wants nothing more than to straighten his hair and dress in a nice suit for his school photo. His mother fears that this is an indication that he is gay and begins to take her fear and anger over this out on him. It’s never made clear whether poor Junior is gay or not, and it isn’t really relevant; what matters is a poor boy whose individuality and sensitivity makes him a mark for all his mother’s aggression and frustrations. I really loved it, even if it did make me sad.

* After Bad Hair I head to the premiere of How I Live Now, starring Saoirse Ronan. I haven’t read the book, but after watching the movie I’d like to. I enjoyed the flick, but I feel like there were details covered in the book that weren’t covered in the film fully which left me going, “wait… what?” It was definitely intense and I thought Saoirse was incredible in it, but the ending left me a little unsatisfied. I’m curious as to whether the same holds true for the book.

* Once again I found myself thoroughly impressed with the performance of a mostly unknown child actor. The little girl who played Saoirse’s nine-year-old cousin was so incredible, she is added to my list of “Favourite Adorable Ginger Brits”.

* The movie lets out too late for me to try and rush McCannick and after some soul-searching I decide to head home. I am now regretting not seeing the Midnight Madness though, if only because I think I could have managed it without being dead on my feet. Missed opportunity. Oh well…

* I managed to see more than one movie, which is a pretty big accomplishment at this point. I am getting frustrated with my movie going this year and how few I am able to squeeze in in a day.


Bad Hair – Loved it. It was heartbreaking and honest and once again features an outstanding performance from a child actor.

How I Live Now – Liked it. It was definitely well done and the story was strong but I kind of feel like maybe something was lost between the page to the screen. I might be wrong though, maybe it’s a perfect adaptation. I need to read the book to properly assess my feelings, I suspect.


* First Festival shift. I won’t go into it all, but it was about as chaotic and stressful as any first shift of the Festival. At least I get to work with Natasha.

* Shift ends and I immediately join the line to see Cannibal, a ticket I actually forgot I had when I sorted my schedule. Eep.

* I enjoyed Cannibal, though I don’t think I got as much out of it as I should have. The movie was really beautiful, but I was far too tired for a film with extended shots of mountaintops and long takes where I watch a character drink a whole glass of water. When the dialogue ebbed out and the movie got quiet, I would find myself doing the baby-head-bob. I thought the acting was superb though and the lead reminded me of a young, Spanish Alan Rickman.

* Unfortunately the movie runs longer than expected and I miss the rush for Mystery Road. I am now at a loss – do I join the rush line for Dallas Buyers Club 3 hours before the movie starts? Can I last that long? Should I try rushing something out. These are the dilemmas that only TIFF can create.

* On an impulse I decide to try and rush The Double – I have a ticket for later in the week, but I decide I would like to see Richard Ayoade in person if I can, and I can always exchange my ticket for something else.

* Once we pass the 15 minute mark into the movie, I bail. I am too tired and hungry and decide to go home and sleep. I have no intention of seeing Midnight Madness – an Eli Roth movie in general is rarely my cup of tea, and one about a tribe of cannibals in the amazon is definitely not something I would seek out. “But didn’t you just see a move called ‘Cannibal’?” you might ask. Yes, yes I did. But I felt fairly confident that an artistic Spanish film would not gross me out as much as anything Eli Roth would make. I find the man delightful, I find his films far too much for me to take.


Cannibal – Liked it. I will definitely need to rewatch it when I am more awake and able to pay closer attention, but I thought it was an interesting character piece and I really enjoyed Antonio de la Torre’s performance as the emotionless killer who begins to feel something for his latest victim’s twin sister. Definitely worth a viewing.


* After leaving work and changing into my party outfit, head to Elgin to stalk the red carpet. Am informed there isn’t a red carpet at Elgin that night. Despite knowing full well this isn’t the man in the headset’s fault, am still filled with misplaced annoyance with him.

* Go to Roy Thompson instead. So many fan girls. So very intimidating. Natasha joins me and we shiver together in the cold while we await the arrival of Mr. Cumberbatch.

* He arrives! I see him! I scream his name shamelessly! I take a blurry picture! He does not come over. I feel quite sad.

* As I’ve always suspected, the red carpet is a lot of effort for very little payoff. People who’d been there far longer than I had didn’t get any autographs either. I’d much rather spend time watching films, thank you.

* Trudge to Ryerson for Only Lovers Left Alive. We have a decent place in line. James, Natasha’s boyfriend, holds my spot so I can run to the red carpet to try and catch a glimpse of Tom Hiddleston. I do not get close enough for a pic or autograph, but I enjoy seeing him nonetheless.

* The movie is SO. GOOD. An unconventional but still beautiful love story about two people who just happen to be vampires. Somehow this fact is both integral to their story, and almost inconsequential. Mia Wasikowska plays a perfect bratty sister and Jeffrey Wright has a small scene-stealing role that gave some comic relief.

* Someone at the Q&A fangirled out on Hiddleston and it was absolutely cringe-worthy. Nothing fills me with more embarrassment than a  fellow nerd making someone unnecessarily uncomfortable. This isn’t Comic-Con, it’s a film festival; try and keep the questions relevant.

* Through sheer luck I manage to get near the back door as Hiddleston exits. Can’t get close for an autograph, but I get a decent photo on my phone. Day MADE.

* Shoes are killing me, I’m exhausted beyond belief, yet still manage to get talked into going to the Opening Night Party – I did dress up after all, might as well show it off.

* Was at the party maybe 20 minutes before bailing. I was too tired to mingle and it just wasn’t my scene. Came home to my mom’s condo to sleep, only to find that the party raging across the street is now keeping me up. The misplaced rage returns.


Only Lovers Left Alive  – Loved it. Realize I’m a little biased, but I don’t care.

Halloween Horror Overload! Day Thirteen – The Monster Squad (1987)

Growing up in my house, there were a lot of films, songs, shows, etc. that my brother and I consumed with such frequency and regularity, that we assumed that EVERYONE watched, listened to, read, etc. the same things. It wasn’t until we got a little older that we realized, “Wait… you mean other kids didn’t watch The Hilarious House of Frightenstein before school? And not everyone knows all the words to “Surfin’ Bird” by age 6? And what do you mean you’ve never heard of Santa Claus: The Movie?! Dudley Moore and the dad from Harry and the Hendersons is in it, I mean COME ON!” The Monster Squad is one such example of a film that was so much a part of my childhood development, it baffles me that it wasn’t standard in all kids’ Halloween traditions.

And when I say standard, I mean standard. Our Halloween routines were fairly predictable: dig the boxes out from under the stairs; go through them to see what decorations were useable, what needed replacing, etc. while dad made a new “spooky” mixtape; go pumpkin picking; battle the parents on whether we needed new costumes or we could use stuff from previous years; watch The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t (HOLY CRAP THE WHOLE THING IS ONLINE I LOVE THE INTERNET SO MUCH RIGHT NOW), Ghostbusters, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, and The Monster Squad. Eventually, Ernest Scared Stupid and Hocus Pocus made the rotation as well. I honestly assumed everyone watched these flicks at Halloween, kinda like how everyone watched Rudolph and The Grinch and whatnot. Turns out, not so much. It wasn’t until university when I met other weirdos that had seen this flick before and loved it like I did. To this day, I get REALLY over enthusiastic when discussing the film and tend to freak anyone out when they say they’ve seen it because I immediately want to be their best friend.

Quick Summary:

First, how boss is that tagline? I freaking love it. Anyway! This is the story of Sean, a smart-ass nerdy kid who loves horror flicks.

He and I should probably get married. But I digress. Sean is the president of his own nerdy club called “The Monster Squad” whose members include Sean; his best friend/sidekick Patrick; their overweight friend who they literally call “Fat Kid” through the majority of the flick; Rudy, the bad ass who is way too old to be hanging out with these kids; Eugene, who is way too young to be hanging out with these kids; and Phoebe, Sean’s five-year-old sister who isn’t really in the club but wants to be and is around all the time so practically is.

These kids eventually stumble upon the diary of Abraham Van Hesling that happened to show up in their small American town. You know, as they do. Coincidentally, guess who else shows up in town?

It seems that Dracula wants to take over the world and to do it he needs Frankenstein’s monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolfman (who just happens to live in this town) and the Mummy to help him. So, they all gather in this small, unnamed town, searching for this magical amulet that is usually concentrated good but once every hundred years can be shattered and used for pure evil. Much like the diary, it somehow got here from Transylvania. (or maybe Germany?) IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW, GUYS, OK? All that matters is that it is up to The Monster Squad, Scary German Guy (that is how he is listed in the credits, THAT IS HIS NAME) and a turncoat Frankenstein (they all call him Frank, so even though I KNOW HE’S NOT CALLED THAT, I’m calling him that. Deal with it) to stop Dracula and his buddies from taking over the world. And if they can do it with a bitchin’ 80s montage well, then, all the better!

Thoughts as I watched:

* Fun fact: I have always and will always associate the Tri Star logo with the opening of this film.

Unrelated, the old school Disney logo opening always reminds me of Honey I Shrunk The Kids. Yeah, I’m odd…

* While the movie as a whole isn’t particularly scary, this whole opening at Dracula’s castle in Transylvania 100 years ago spooked me out as a kid.Very atmospheric, I dig it.

* Dracula turning from a bat into a FULLY DRESSED man, cape and all, always makes me chuckle.

THAT’S the lack of realism I take issue with – Drac’s clothes. Nothing else, apparently. I’m dumb.

* Van Helsing is supposed to be German; the girl is chanting in German; this beginning is taking place in Transylvania; So why does Van Helsing speak suck perfect English?



Or… the 80s. Close enough.

* Sean’s shirt needs to be my shirt and it needs to be my shirt NOW.

Why have I never bought and/or made this myself?! Perfect shirt.

* “Mrs. Carlson is a nice teacher and all, but she’s boring and has an odd-shaped head. That’s why Sean and the guys call her “Meow Mix”, cuz her head is shaped like a cat’s head. But I don’t sir, cuz how rude!”

Patrick is clearly the comedy relief.

* This is an educator that connects with kids. He is Mr. Belding and Mr. Kotter all rolled into one.

“I think science is cool. I dig it man!”

* I always block out the part where Sean repeatedly refers to his principal as a homo. I know he’s a 12-year-old in the 80s, but… ugh. It makes me sad.

* Poor Horace Fat Kid…

It can’t be easy having Kevin Arnold’s big brother as a bully.

Don’t worry Fat Kid, Rudy’s got your back!

You can tell he’s a bad ass on account of the leather jacket and the fingerless gloves and the sunglasses and the greased up black hair and the smoking on school grounds… Oh, and the fact that he looks at least three years older than everyone else. And when he tells you to eat a squished up candy bar, you damn well better eat that squished up candy bar!

* Sean and Patrick argue about whether or not Wolfman can drive a car or has genitalia. I once argued with a friend about whether or not it’s physically possibly for a vampire to have sex if their heart doesn’t beat. I AM THESE KIDS.

* I’m not entirely sure how Rudy fits into this group. He seems to know Fat Kid, and wants to stand up for him and such, but Sean and Patrick and even five-year-old Phoebe know him purely through his reputation.

So… why is this junior high kid hanging out with 12 year olds? Did Fat Kid teach him how to read or something? Whatever, I still love him. HE’S SUCH A DREAMY BAD BOY YOU GUYS!

* Where is this plane full of corpses coming from? How did Frankenstein get on the manifest? And where was it going before Dracula got himself and the crate dopped out the chute in the bottom of the plane’s cargo hold? OH WELL, DOESN’T MATTER, THE CRATE LANDED IN PRECISELY THE RIGHT SWAMP, NO WORRIES.

“I got this!”

* Rudy is in junior high; he is CLEARLY cool. Why on earth would he even want to BE in this nerdy Monster Club?

Oh, right. Nevermind then.

* Sean’s mom just happened to buy a book at a local garage sale from “that old house on Shadowbrook Road” that was written by Van Helsing. Yeah, THAT Van Helsing. His personal diary just happened to find its way to a small town garage sale. “Now, he’s the one that fought Godzilla, right?”

Ok, Mom? You don’t have to know monster movies but could you at LEAST know your literature? I mean, really.

* I still don’t entirely understand this moment.

Always freaked me out. Weird and unnecessary.

* Meet Sean’s dad:

He’s a grizzled cop who loves his family but always puts work first. He’s in marriage counseling and has a sassy black partner.

Sean’s dad is an 80s action movie stereotype.

* I love that there is absolutely no explanation as to why there is a werewolf living in this town, or why this mummy suddenly came to life, or where the creature in the swamp came from. DON’T MATTER! THEY’RE HERE NOW! ENJOY THE RIDE!

* Sean watching a drive-in movie on his roof is my dream. DREAM.

Is there anything better than the notion that you can watch drive-in movies FREE from your roof with binoculars and McDonald’s? Answer: No there is not. I want this to be my life one day. This flick has me dreaming the impossible dream.

* Sean sees this message from his mother:

He is immediately suspicious and sets out to decode the OBVIOUSLY fake name.


Ok, first of all, Sean’s mom refers to it as the “Van Halen” diary in her note. Sean’s mom is unrealistically dumb. Second, Dracula? That was the lamest attempt to disguise your name EVER. It’s not even really an anagram! It’s just your name backwards! A little effort please sir!

* I am kind of in love with little Eugene’s dad. When his son says there are monsters in his room, his dad immediately busts into his room and begins shooing invisible monsters out to protect his son; he is a wonderful dad. When he’s told he missed one in the closet, he gets a little snarky, much like I would if woken up in the middle of the night because of monsters.

Love it.

* The group decides to team up and take down these monsters. Only this ragtag group of kids could possibly take out centuries-old creatures of evil!

“How does that dog get up here, anyway?”

* “Gentlemen, I’d just like to say three words to you: Scary. German. Guy.”

I love Scary German Guy. I love that his name is Scary German Guy. I love that he is ok with these kids calling him Scary German Guy. I love that he just totally goes along with these kids, helping them translate German diaries and driving them to abandoned houses and churches, without blinking an eye. I love that monsters don’t faze him. I love that he is introduced to us as a rather ominous figure…

…only for it to be revealed that he is just a sweet ol’ grandpa type.

Yep, nothing scarier than free pie! Fat Kid’s right, Scary German Guy is bitchin’!

* Frankenstein meeting little Phoebe by the lake is actually kind of clever.

It’s a nod to the original flick, guys! When he tosses that girl in! Guys! It’s a clever callback guys!

Naturally, the charms of a five-year-old girl are greater than the magical influence of a centuries old super villain, so Frankenstein is now on the Monster Squad too.

I wish Frankenstein’s monster was MY friend…

* When Frank realizes he’s scary?

Phoebe’s face is my face when he’s sad. Poor Frank =(

* I’ll never understand why the Mummy attacking the car is scary. I mean, he’s dead, yeah, but he’s just dust and rags and bones. What is he going to do? Grab you, and… then what? Eat you? Is that what mummies do? Isn’t he supposed to have magic powers or something? This one clearly doesn’t. Rudy has to right idea:

Unravel that bitch and he’s not much to worry about. “See ya later, Band-Aid breath!”


“Meeting adjourned.”

Drac’s kind of a BAMF.

* “Where are you going, Rudy?”

Rudy is at his most bad-ass in this moment. He pushes pass the other kids and struts right up to the vampire mistresses coming to destroy them.

That is one cool kid.

* The poor Wolfman’s junk.

It really takes a beating in this flick. And of course, this doesn’t even stop him. Rudy tried to tell you guys, there’s only ONE way to kill a werewolf!


Silver bullets, bitches! PS, Rudy thus far has dispatched five monsters or so. No one else has done squat.

I nominate Rudy as the new club president. Sorry, Sean.

* I love that the “virgin” they get to read the incantation is Patrick’s sister, who they refer to as being trampy numerous times in the flick. When it doesn’t work, she admits that she’s not actually a virgin. “Well, Steve! But he doesn’t count!”


But what really kills me is that they seem to think only virgin chicks are applicable, since they skip over all the 12 year old boys running around and immediately get the 5-year-old to read it.

Yep. Makes sense.

* Duncan Regehr might be the best incarnation of Dracula I’ve seen. He’s ruthless, he’s scary, he’s kinda sexy…

“Give me the amulet, you bitch!”

Ok maybe not that sexy. But I dig him nonetheless.

* The kids finally get the portal open! The monsters are being dragged into Limbo! But wait! Dracula’s got Sean and is dragging him with him! Oh noes!


That’s right. Van Helsing came out of Limbo to grab Dracula and give Sean the thumbs up. THAT JUST HAPPENED.

* I love that a five-year-old is able to hold onto a 7 foot monster’s finger and keep him from being sucked into the vortex.

“Don’t go Frankenstein, don’t go!”

At least, for a time. But even the strength of a five-year-old’s love isn’t enough to resist the pull of a vortex. Frank is taken. But at least he gets to take a friend with him!

Farewell, Frank!

Favourite Part:

I have so many. But first? THIS. MONTAGE.

It might be my all-time favourite montage. Keep in mind, everything that happens in it happens in ONE day. ONE DAY! And that song sounds like it was written specifically for a montage. It is PERFECT montage music. It could only exist in an 80s film montage. MONTAGE! That whole scene is a thing of beauty, I love it beyond description.

Second place? It’s a tie. And both parts involve poor ol’ Fat Kid.

“Wolfman’s got nards!” Best line in the history of monster movie cinema. I love it so much. Nards might be the most underappreciated euphemism for male genitalia I have ever heard. And Fat Kid’s face!

He is just so stunned. And probably a little afraid of the concept of werewolf reproduction. Can’t blame him for that.

And then… there’s this glorious, glorious moment:

The gun cock! The musical sting! The kid’s face! Oh my God it’s beautiful!

Fat Kid is dead. Long live Horace!

Oh, and then there’s the ending. It’s not one of my favourite parts necessarily, but you need to see the montage to appreciate it. Because in that montage, Eugene writes an ADORABLE letter to the army:

That’s the the one. And once all the chaos is done and the vortex is closed, guess who shows up?

The army not only responds to Eugene’s letter, THEY RECEIVED IT THE DAY IT WAS SENT AND MOBILIZED IMMEDIATELY. I don’t think you understand how hilarious and ridiculous and absolutely PERFECT this is.

When they see there’s nothing left for them, they demand answers!


Why I love it:

Because it’s just… incredible. It’s incredible. It’s a love note to every monster movie ever made. It’s a time capsule of 80s gloriousness. It’s the perfect movie for kids that are too young for REALLY scary movies, but too old to watch Disney or cartoons (For the record, I am a firm believer that you are NEVER too old for Disney or cartoons). Plus, you get all kinds of naughty PG 13 swearing and violence! It’s a movie that reminds me of my childhood, of how much I loved the weird and scary, how nerdy I was and how I would have killed for a club like Sean’s with a bunch of nerdy friends to talk about monsters with. I love it because even as an adult, I can still relate to that inner nerdy kid who could talk monsters all day every day.

When next we meet: Cabin in the Woods!

Halloween Horror Overload! Day Twelve – The Thing (1982)

Alright friends and neighbours, let’s dig into John Carpenter’s The Thing, shall we?

I adore this movie. The first time I ever watched it was with my father. I don’t remember how old I was (knowing my dad, younger than I should have been,) but I know that it blew my mind. Not just the special effects – which, to my mind, are far superior to most of the CG crap we see today – but the story. I may have mentioned I have a thing for tales of humanity crumbling in the face of paranoia and fear? This is just another log on the fire that fuels my dark, twisted psyche. The flick is just as much about this group of men turning on each other, not knowing who to trust and how to survive, as it is about an alien creature that kills, duplicates, and mimics other living creatures (Can you see why I usually watch this and Invasion around the same time?) It’s tense, it’s well-plotted, it’s simply well-done.

Quick summary:

At a remote research station in the Antarctic, a group of scientists take in a poor dog that was being hunted by some crazy, suicidal Norwegians.

Led by Kurt Russell at his most bearded and dashing, they investigate the Norwegian camp and find nothing except the burnt ruins of the camp, the body of a man who committed suicide, oh and this thing:

While that probably should have given them pause, it totally doesn’t. They bring it home for testing. You know, as you do. That’s when shit starts to go bad – turns out the dog isn’t a dog, it’s an alien… Thing, a Thing that is now attacking the other dogs and assimilating them. Our intrepid researchers are now catching on that this Thing ain’t from around here and can apparently look like anything or anyone. The film now turns into a game of “Who Can We Trust?” as the men in the camp begin to turn on each other and suspect one another of secretly being the Thing. Tests are performed and people die and it’s all pretty awesome. And, Spoiler Alert! Once again we find ourselves watching a film with a less than happy ending. And once again, I LOVE IT.

The overwhelming sense of paranoia is palpable throughout the film. Not only has our cast of characters started to doubt each other and themselves, but so have we the viewer. You never really see when and how those that are infected become infected. So you’re never really sure who you can trust. The panic the men feel becomes infectious and the intensity of their situation spills out into the audience.

I also need to take a moment to explain my deep and abiding love for Rob Bottin at this moment.

Mr. Bottin was all of 22 when he was put in charge of the special makeup effects design and creation for The Thing. His entire life revolved around this flick for a year and he even managed to get himself hospitalized for exhaustion by the end of it. But all the time and effort was worth it because good GOD are the effects in this film stunning.

I mean, LOOK AT THOSE. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. That man, at 22(!) was responsible for every creepy, gross, eye-popping moment (sans the dog creature which was done by Stan Winston after Bottin got himself hospitalized) and for that, I love him.

Thoughts as I watched:


Done with an animation cell, a fish tank filled with smoke, and a plastic garbage bag lit on fire. WHAT UP SIMPLICITY.

* If anyone in that camp spoke Norwegian, all of this could have been avoided.

If that’s not a motivator to learn new languages I don’t know what is.

* Oh, hey there Milo from those early Saved by the Bells with Miss Bliss! Nice rollerskates!

“Maybe we at war with Norway!”


It really is a thing of beauty. I need one for my hat collection. Closer look!

If anyone bought me that hat, I’d marry them.

* The Norwegian suicide victim is so beautifully gruesome and awful.


* That dog is the best dog actor of all the dog actors. He is better than Wishbone, better than Eddie from Frasier, all of them. HE SCARES ME. The intelligence that seems to be radiating out of him, the way he watches people, the calculated way he moves, just his face!

You are totally sketchy and I WOULD NOT TRUST YOU, PUPPY!

I love dogs wholly and unconditionally but this one I’d make sleep outside. Away from others. Eesh.

* I just need to show this again so we can appreciate how fucked up and disgusting it is.

This is not something I want in the same general vicinity as me, let alone the same room. THAT IS NOT RIGHT, FELLAS. WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT IS NOT RIGHT. Alllllll your inner alarms should be blaring!



That thing is pretty damn cool lookin’, though.

* Clark (played by Vada Sultenfuss’ uncle Phil) loves dogs. He loves them as much as I love them. His breakdown when they have to kill them is incredibly relatable for me.

Clark is a saaaaaad panda

I feel ya, Clark.

* Wilfred Brimley’s Blair is apparently some sort of super scientist genius man, because he pieces together in NO TIME that this is an organism that can imitate other life forms perfectly and that anyone who’d been alone with the dog was suspect. It seriously takes him like, an hour or two. He figures it out well before the sunrises at least. Why has he been banished to the south pole if he’s this smart? I want to know his back story.

“Hey guys, so I figured out what’s going on with this Thing, made a sandwich, took a nap and cured cancer. What’ve you been up to?”

* Blair tells them all this Thing can imitate other life forms and absorb them. Ok, fine – camp accepts that. MacReady tells them he think it’s an alien from outer space and suddenly it’s all totally unbelievable “voodoo bullshit”. Personally, I’d buy it was an alien before I’d buy it was native to our planet and just undiscovered in the frozen tundra of Antarctica.

Blair has got himself some pretty high tech gear down there at the south pole….

* Once the first member of the team is taken over, things really get interesting. I always try and figure out at what point each character gets infected and who is human and who is not and I can never figure it out. I think Blair is a Thing at this point? But maybe not. The only one I know for sure is this guy:

And he ain’t long for this world.

* I love Blair’s freak out in the comm room. He is raving mad at this point and while he makes a lot of good points about stopping the Thing from spreading, how the Thing doesn’t want to be a dog it wants to be a man, some of them are probably already infected, etc. I’m still not entirely sure if he’s infected and faking it, or really just paranoid to the point of madness. And that makes me paranoid.

Don’t mess with Wilfred Brimley, he will fuck you up.


* Seriously, when do these people get infected?! I can never quite figure it out! Was Palmer the one the dog went to see in the beginning?? Or was it Norris?? Who sabotaged the blood? And how did they do it?! YOU GUYS THIS MOVIE MESSES WITH MY HEAD SO MUCH AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH BUT I WANT TO KNOW EXACTLY WHEN AND HOW THIS ALL CAME DOWN.

* I love that MacReady is ready to blow everyone up just to save his own hide. And, you know, to stop the Thing.


Favourite part/Scariest part:

They are one and the same – Norris’ heart attack. I love a lot of moments in this flick, but this? This has be my favourite.

It’s shocking, it’s gross, and it’s totally hilarious. It also always manages to make me jump. Yeah, the dog scene is fucked up and pretty terrifying, but it doesn’t scare me so much as upset me. Norris’ chest growing teeth and chomping on the poor doc’s arms?

Yeah, that scares me.

Did I mention how stellar I find these effects? This scene epitomizes that for me. The chest growing teeth, the creature rising up out of the chest, the head disconnecting, the head GROWING LEGS…

It is bananas. The whole thing, bananas. Also, that skittering little head with legs trying to evade MacReady makes me giggle.

*Casual whistling*

Next favourite scene? The blood test.

(It’s long, but it’s worth every minute)

It’s a classic for a reason, folks.

Why I love it:

Once again, bleak, bleak ending dudes. Not quite as bleak as Invasion, at least in this case the human race isn’t necessarily doomed, but still. MacReady and Childs are the only survivors, left in the burnt out remains of their camp. They basically admit that they can’t trust each other, but neither of them are in any shape to DO anything about it. So they just lay there, either waiting for the other to attack them, or death to come. We never see which happens. I like to think they were both human and died saving our species from the Thing, though.

See? Who says I’m a pessimist!

Next we will be visiting one of my childhood favourites and an 80s cult classic I try to make everyone I know watch at least once – The Monster Squad!