Aug 14, 2011

A few of my favorite Things

Rewatching John Carpenter's 1982 version of The Thing last night, I was newly taken with Dean Cundey's beautiful cinematography — and in particular those flares and the rich palette of mauves, magentas, pinks and blues they lend the film. I'm not one for too much aestheticism in a horror movie, believing it one of those rough-n-ready genres that spit in the eye of mere prettiness, but the flares really work on every level: they are the means by which the camp members illuminate their path as they peer around every nook and cranny, while also highlighting their vulnerability — the seeing can now be seen. Because the flares crackle and move, they throw the background into constant, shape-shifting relief, as if the shadows themselves were moving. And finally, with Hawsksian fatalism, they sputter and die — fragile, finite light-sources briefly illuminating the darkness — much like characters in a John Carpenter film, particularly The Thing, where half the characters end up as fireballs — human torches.


  1. Here's a movie that wins one of the all-time bad timing awards, released two weeks after "E.T.," a time when movie audiences wanted their aliens cuddly and benign, and has endured as a horror classic. Cundey, incidentally, went on to do some good DP work for Spielberg (and Bob Zemeckis). For some reason he's now slumming in movies like "Garfield" and "Jack and Jill."

  2. Flare were also used to fantastic effect in The Descent, a film that really does spit, spurt, puke and spray in the eye of prettiness