Review: John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982) At the Logan Theater

Dan Maurer and Leslie Lozada

Located at 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave, the Logan Theater is an historic icon that has been open since 1915. Even as Logan Square and the local community has changed around it, the theater has continued to serve the diverse communities. The Logan Theater frequently screens vintage, independent, and mid-run movies and local film festivals. We were surprised to find their ticket and concession prices to be quite affordable, roughly half what we have come to expect from some of the big name theater companies. The nostalgia, affordable experience and the art-deco style decor of the historic theater leant itself well to the vintage movies playing the night we went there to see the 1982 movie by John Carpenter, “The Thing”. Part of the “Horror Movie Madness” series, the Logan Theater shows several vintage horror films, which are played for a limited run, with the times set late in the evening.

“The Thing” stars a number of iconic actors, including Kurt Russell, Keith David and Wilford Brimley. The initial moments of the movie show a distinct lack of appreciation for just how inhospitable Antarctica is that is only too appropriate for an ‘80s horror thriller, and the rest of the movie is exactly what you would expect in that regard; something these writers greatly appreciated.

Where “The Thing” shines is in its special and practical effects. As the researchers are forced to battle an alien virus that had been found trapped in the ice, we were astounded at the gory and disturbing manner in which the virus was able to mutate human and canine anatomy (dog lovers be warned, your favorite four-legged friends do not fair well in this movie). Not only were these mutations incredibly creative, but what went into crafting them was a work of genius for a time when CGI was, well… limited. As the movie progresses, we are treated to the discovery of how this virus operates, and the drama that ensues with the realization that it can take over and mimic an individual. Who is infected? Who is a “Thing”? The movie is a rollercoaster of tension, visceral and creative mutation and explosive fire fights that makes this one of the true great thrillers of the ‘80s that everyone should see, given the chance.

On a side note, this movie does have a very distinct connection to a well known video game franchise. With an alien virus mutating and attempting to consume all of humanity, and Keith David fighting alongside Kurt Russell’s lead role, one might just think that this movie foreshadowed Keith David’s later role as the Arbiter, fighting the Flood alongside the Master Chief in Halo.

For more information about the Logan Square Horror Movie Madness series, check out the website for the rest of the dates in October. Along with the films, there are also some special events for different film screenings, such as the annual Halloween Party during a showing of “Beetlejuice” (1988) on the 28th.