Great films appear every year and with them are potentially classic scenes that may become more famous than the film itself. The shower scene in Psycho, the chariot race in Ben Hur, the chest bursting moment in Alien, and the opera music sounding across the prison yard in The Shawshank Redemption are just some of the examples of the classic celluloid moments that we may be familiar with even if we’ve never seen the film. I’ll be sharing my favourite film scenes, some you will know others may be unfamiliar, but hopefully they’ll be moments you enjoy as much as I do.
The Thing (1982) – The Blood Test
John Carpenter’s remake of the 1951 sci-fi horror film, based on John W Campbell’s novella, “Who Goes There?” was a box office failure but through its cult status is today regarded as one of the finest horror films ever made. The Thing works on many levels with a truly terrifying monster, the added difficulty of paranoia and mistrust spreading amongst its intended victims, and a perfectly isolated setting in the midst of Antarctica, offering them no escape!
Set in Winter 1982, the film opens with a helicopter, manned by two Norwegians, pursuing a dog across the Antarctic plains. After landing at an American research base, one of the Norwegians accidentally drops a grenade, blowing up himself and the helicopter. The remaining Norwegian proceeds to try and kill the dog but is shot by one of the Americans. They take in the stray dog, while a group led by MacReady (Kurt Russell) fly to the Norwegian’s base to look for survivors. They find no one alive but discover the remains of what looks like a mutated man and bring it back to their base for study. When the stray dog changes into an alien life form and proceeds to kill the other dogs at the research centre, the Americans know they are facing a serious threat to their lives. After burning the alien, its remains are investigated and the Americans discover it’s an organism that snares its prey and after killing them is then able to mimic them precisely with the hope of infecting other hosts. Further investigation of the Norwegian base reveals a crashed UFO site and the confirmation that an extraterrestrial life form is now terrorising them. The Thing begins killing and taking over the Americans one by one, with fire being the only thing that seems to kill it. Knowing the Thing can imitate others perfectly once they have been infected, the Americans begin to watch each other very carefully. When MacReady is suspected of being infected the surviving Americans have one solution to determine who is friend or foe.
Adamant he is still human, MacReady forces the rest of the Americans at gunpoint to partake of a blood test that will establish who is infected. Clark (Richard Masur) tries to ambush MacReady but is killed instantly by a gunshot to the head. MacReady has Windows (Thomas Waites) assist him in tying up four of the Americans while their blood is tested. The test, comprising of burning blood samples, reveals both Windows and MacReady are not infected. When Palmer (David Clennon) has his blood test there is a reaction. Suddenly, Palmer begins to shake in his seat and changes shape. Breaking from his bonds he leaps onto the ceiling while MacReady desperately tries to shoot him with a flamethrower. When the Thing lands on the ground it grabs Windows and proceeds to attack and infect him before hurling him to one side. MacReady manages to torch the Thing which races outside into the snow to die. MacReady has no time to stop for breath; he has to quickly burn the now infected Windows! In the aftermath the last of the blood tests are conducted with the remaining men all revealed to still be human. This scene best conveys a group of men pushed to the limits by their ordeal and unable to trust each other. Some have linked the fear in the blood test to AIDS, which became well-known to the world in the 1980s. It’s a tense scene and the highlight of what is a brilliant horror film.
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