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March 30, 2016

The Hateful Eight: The Best Fan-Film Tribute to John Carpenter's The Thing In Years

Pointless and contrived, and filled with Tarantino's usual tics of hyperviolence, overly-long drawn-out takes, people who always talk like they're imitating black gangster movies set in 1990s Compton, and flashing backwards in time.

But still, not too bad. It holds your interest. It's nice to see a movie try something a little different.

It doesn't wear out its welcome, but it does remind you of why Quentin Tarantino annoys you so much.

He never says in three words what he can say in twelve -- or, I should say, he takes his mosey-ass time to type up his repetitive-ass words and throws in some cursing for "grit."

There is no adjective, it seems, that cannot be improved by appending "-ass" to it and some profanity garland. Especially when he's putting words in Samuel L. Jackson's mouth.

Why say "broken door" when you can say "crazy-ass broke-ass door?"

Why say "I'll kill you dead" when you can say, "Shit, I'll kill your cracker-ass ass dead as dead-ass roadkill"?

It's kind of racist, to be honest.

I didn't feel #Safe at times.

This movie #microaggressed me.

The characters are very thinly drawn. If you saw the trailer, you know each is identified by a tagline -- The Hangman, The... Actual Hangman,* The Bounty Hunter, The Cowboy, The General -- and that's pretty much all there is to them.

Oh, except they're all bad-asses, pretty much.

The actors (not really the characters, just actors delivering written lines) spend a lot of awkward time telling each other their stories, all about how bad-ass they all are and how many Dark and Gritty things they've done in the past.

It's sort of like Con Air, except, instead of just telling us quickly that Diamond Dog is a black revolutionary and a murderer, you have Walt Goggins yap for six or seven minutes telling us in detail about his various exploits.

There is one additional point of interest:

It's a straight-up remake of John Carpenter's The Thing, and no, I'm not kidding. It's a straight-up remake.

Okay, no a remake, but a very close-trailing tribute.

From the opening scenes of winter desolation, to the Ennio Morricone score (which sounds a bit more like his score for The Untouchables than The Thing, but you can still feel a Thing-ish mood to the score**), to the pressure-cooker situation of eight men (plus one woman) trapped in a claustrophobic space while a blizzard wails outside, to -- and I can't believe it took me this long to realize this -- Kurt Russell in a primary role -- this movie is, I'm not kidding you, The Thing with a change of genre (sci-fi suspense to Western-ish suspense), time (1983 to 1883 or so), and place (swap out Antarctica for Wyoming).

The plot is Find the Hidden Traitor(s) -- someone in this confined space is not who they say they are, and that person -- that thing that lurks among us -- may strike at any moment.

In fact, Kurt Russell himself even delivers the line, almost straight from The Thing, "One person here isn't who they say they are... it might even be two people."

There's a somewhat minor thing -- the ropelines away from the complex to its outbuildings. The literal lines of rope. These are present in The Thing, and directly referenced when one guy says "I cut him loose... I cut him loose on the rope-line." Though you might not realize they're important in the movie. The book version mentions them more.

In The Hateful Eight, you see them putting in the ropelines from the main building to the stable and from the main building to the outhouse.

That's a kind of minor thing, but a Thing fan recognizes another Thing fan.

And there are more direct and obvious swipes from -- or tributes to -- The Thing, but I don't want to get into spoiler territory. Let's just say there is a Biological Gross-Out sequence that occurs at about the same point in the movie, at the climax of maximum violence. The "you've got to be f***ing kidding me" moment.

There is a swipe from The Thing's best human moment, the moment two guys who are not fans of each other unite because they realize, whatever differences they might have, they are now each other the only ones they trust.

And sure, there's a direct analogue of the couch scene, the scene where we're gonna find out who You Things are, and separate you from the ones we can trust.

No blood test, though.

And there's a last shot which is... well.

Trust me, it's The Thing.

So: Hyperviolent (to deliberate gross-out excess), a lot of thoughtless profanity where not needed, a really weird sense that it's Quentin Tarantino's crazy-ass cracker-ass jive idea that somehow this movie is going to unite the races and bring about racial harmony and understanding --yeah, the movie gives off the feel that it thinks it's delivering some kind of healing-ass message for our racially-divided-ass nation 'n shit-- but, on the other hand, a fair amount of suspense that keeps your interest, if not your actual admiration.

And then weirdly -- a straight-up rip-off of The Thing. So that you're sittin' there on your couch-sittin'-ass thinkin' "Man, does this crazy-ass cracker-ass cracker who wishes he was black think he's some kind of John Carpenter 'n shit? Sheeeet, Holmes. That's six different-ass shades of f**ked up!"

It's a strange movie. I kind of don't like the movie, but I was only bored for a few of the show-offy long takes in the beginning, and it doesn't feel like a three hour movie.

* See, one guy is called The Hangman, because he always brings his bounties in to be hanged instead of just shooting them and bringing in their dead bodies (and never gives a good reason for this; he might have just said "Because Quentin Tarantino thought it sounded cool and bad-ass"), but another guy is an actual working Hangman for the town, so, you have one guy called The Hangman, and another actual Hangman. Kind of weird but whatever.

** It's more than a Thing-ish feel to the music -- I just saw online that someone says that Hateful Eight used some of the unused score Morricone wrote for The Thing. Morricone complained that Carpenter had only used one of his pieces of music (in fact, he said, as soon as he wrote that piece, he knew Carpenter would use only, that one, because it's the sort of simple, ominous thing Carpenter would write himself). He was disappointed that the other themes he'd written for the movie were never used in the movie at all, and can only be heard on Special Edition DVDs where you can hear some it in a special menu selection.

Well, apparently, Tarantino's love of The Thing spurred him to resurrect this (virtually) unheard Morricone music.

Bonus similarity to The Thing: The Thing had a credit "Special Make-Up Effects by Rob Bottin." This movie has "Special Make-Up Effects by John Dykstra," and I'll bet you any amount of money he wanted Rob Bottin for his Thing tribute, but for whatever reason, had to settle for Dykstra.

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posted by Ace at 12:36 PM

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