Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Music History Monday: You’ve Got to be Kidding

‘Fessing Up

THE SCENE from the John Carpenter movie The Thing (1983)
THE SCENE from the John Carpenter movie The Thing (1983)

Okay: you’re going to have to bear with me for one of my idiotic tangents, one that nevertheless explains precisely how I feel about Mozart and his music at a gut level.  What follows is a deep confession, something I’ve never shared before.  Be forewarned though, that once you’ve read and/or heard this confession (depending upon whether you’re reading Music History Monday as a blog or listening to it as a podcast), it cannot be unread or unheard.

Here goes.

John Carpenter in 1982, during filming of The Thing
John Carpenter in 1982, during filming of The Thing

Since childhood, I have had a deep and abiding affection for horror films, the gnarlier, the gnastier, the better.  Yes, color me juvenile if you must, but there it is.  Among the very greatest masters of the genre is the American filmmaker John Carpenter (born 1948), whose oeuvre includes such classics as the Halloween franchise, Escape From New York, Escape from L.A., Christine, The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13, They Live, and Prince of Darkness.  But for my dinaro, Carpenter’s magnum opus is The Thing (which was released in 1982).  Critically panned when it first opened, it is today considered (by those of us who consider it at all) to be a masterwork of graphic, on occasion inadvertently comedic, over-the-top horror.

(In 2008, the British film magazine Empire designated The Thing as being number 289 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time,” calling it:

“a peerless masterpiece of relentless suspense, retina-wrecking visual excess, and outright, nihilistic terror.”

It is an appraisal with which I wholeheartedly agree!)

Starring, among others, Kurt Russell and Wilford Brimley, with a musical score by Ennio Morricone, The Thing tells the story of a group of American research scientists on station in Antarctica and their horrific encounter with an alien presence: the “Thing” itself.  The Thing’s “thing” is to consume, assimilate, and then imitate other life forms, and as such, the members of the station – who, as we would expect, are picked off one at a time – are overcome by paranoia, not knowing who or what among them is the Thing.…

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