Quentin Tarantino likes movies. It’s why he makes them. And while we’re out here giving him a hard time for thinking feet are hot, he’s just trying to get people to watch John Carpenter’s 1981 masterpiece The Thing, which is apparently what he went on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to promote. Well, that and the hardcover for his Once Upon A Time In Hollywood novelization and the movie-going experience as a whole. All things that are worthy of promotion, honestly.
During his interview with Tarantino, Colbert randomly brings up The Thing, Carpenter’s suspenseful and moody feast of fear, blood, and viscera. We’re pleased he did. Who doesn’t love The Thing?
Tarantino sure does. It inspired two of Tarantino’s films: Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight—Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-winning score to the latter was even made using some of the composer’s unused music to Carpenter’s film.
“I think [The Thing] is one of the greatest horror movies ever made, if not one of the greatest movies ever made,” Tarantino said. “One of the reasons that The Thing holds a special place in my heart is I love horror movies. I don’t get scared during horror movies. The Thing, I got scared in. I was scared and it made me want to put it under a microscope about why I was actually frightened during that movie.”
“If you know the movie, these men are trapped in this situation in this arctic research center. And so, one or more of them are possibly this thing that’s going to devour all of them, and no one knows if you are the guy I’ve known for ever or you are a thing. The movie makes the paranoia of that so palpable, so real. It’s almost like another character in the movie, just the sheer paranoia of it.”
With Colbert nodding along in approval and saying that his kids are weirded out by the idea of The Thing being their father’s “happy place,” Tarantino says that the paranoid energy that’s “bouncing off of the four walls” in the film had to go somewhere. “It has no where to go, except through the fourth wall into the audience.”
“By me putting that under a microscope and realizing, okay, I’m affected by The Thing for that reason, and when I figured out why it is, when I started writing Reservoir Dogs, I was like ‘I need to have that aspect that’s in The Thing. I need to trap these bastards. I need to trap them in this warehouse, and I want the paranoia of what’s going on in that warehouse to bounce across the walls and, hopefully, like in The Thing it will go out into the audience.”
Did he succeed? Well, anyone that’s ever turned their head away during the infamous Steeler’s Wheel ear-slicing scene, which doesn’t actually show much gore, would probably say he did.
There’s a lot of good stuff in this interview with Tarantino, including a vigorous defense of the theatrical movie experience that you’d expect from the man that now owns the two best movie theaters in Los Angeles.