The second week of the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival started with a bang as Christopher Pollard and Justin Barney of the Cinebuds podcast brought a special 35 mm presentation of John Carpenter’s THE THING to a packed house at the Oriental Theatre and then hosted a live podcast with a Q&A after. I can’t imagine anyone didn’t have a fun time.
There’s not much point in reviewing the undisputed classic that is THE THING at this point. It routinely shows up at or near the top of lists of the best science fiction and horror films of all time. If you haven’t seen THE THING, you should. So, this article is going to be more about the screening as an event than about the actual film.
To start off, while seeing a film on 35 mm is a treat, the audience was alerted before the screening that this was something of a “Frankenstein print” with many elements assembled to create it. It was a good warning too, as while there were sections of good quality, it was fitted between sections with scratches, some where the color was faded and it had a strong pink hue. It most certainly wasn’t the highest quality presentation. However, there were times when I wonder if the person assembling this print was making something of an art project of it. There’s a point in the film where a helicopter is flying from the American base to the Norwegian base in bad weather that’s supplemented with a blizzard of scratches. And, the film is in its best condition for some of the most famous scenes. Regardless if there’s any intent, the ever changing state of film fits with the every changing shape of monstrosities shown in the film. Accidental or otherwise, it’s a fascinating way to watch the film.
And clearly, the audience for the film was both familiar with it and game to see it in whatever state the print was in. The audience cheered and laughed at all the right times and was clearly into the film.
Following the film, Cinebuds recorded with audience participation. Theories were passed about the film and Kurt Russell’s handsomeness was definitely commented on. There was a lively Q&A afterwards too.
THE THING is not showing again at the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival, but it’s widely available on home video. The 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from April 21, 2022 until May 5, 2022. You can get tickets at mkefilm.org.