“So how do we know who’s human?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Meanwhile, he posits that the film’s “terrifying premise” — the men on the base “lose trust in one another, fearing that the monster lurks beneath the familiar human facade of one of their co-workers” — is “exploited by Carpenter and special-effects genius Rob Bottin, who really comes up with some amazing concoctions.” He asserts that Carpenter’s “major mistake” is “when he has the film’s suspense and horror focus on the visuals, particularly the extremely gory, often repulsive ways in which the men are killed off.”
Peary argues that “the real horror should be that these men are losing their identities when they are inhabited by the creature” — but “unfortunately, Carpenter neglected to give his characters distinct or engaging personalities to begin with,” and “since they are already dehumanized from their long stay in the wilderness, we can’t be too upset seeing nonentities being taken over.”
I disagree with Peary’s take on this film. While Hawks’s unique flick is a must-see classic of the 1950s, Carpenter’s film succeeds on its own terms, presenting a wintery hellscape of justifiable paranoia in which these men (I disagree they’re dehumanized) can no longer rely on one another for support and survival. Carpenter’s direction is spot-on, and the special effects really are a wonder to behold. While this isn’t a personal favorite, it’s a well-crafted thriller, and has enough of a dedicated following that all film fanatics should watch it at least once.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)