"Get away from her, you bitch!" It's a pair of 1980s sci-fi horror films filled with "Hell yeah!" moments at the Carolina Theatre tonight, as a special fundraiser for the Nevermore Film Festival. First is John Carpenter's The Thing—and while it's a remake, it's Carpenter's film all right, in which Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley and other unlucky souls find an alien presence in the Antarctic that winds up creating some very disturbing creatures. Written by Burt Lancaster's son Bill and featuring an Ennio Morricone score (one of the few times Carpenter used music other than his own for a film), the film opened the same day as Blade Runner and, like that film, didn't do that well at the box office (Carpenter blamed E.T. for prepping the audience for "cuddly" aliens). The Thing has since gone on to develop an enormous following, and now is regarded as one of many great sci-fi/fantasy films of the "Class of '82." And a prequel is due later this year.
Up next is Aliens, James Cameron's 1986 follow-up to Ridley Scott's 1982 hit. Question: How do you make a successful sequel to a film in which much of the suspense comes from learning about the mysterious monster? Answer: Make a lot of monsters, and have the hero armed to the teeth and ready to face them. "This time, it's war," was the tagline, and Aliens earns its blood. Filled with quotable lines ("They mostly come at night ... mostly") and great character-actor performances, it cemented Sigourney Weaver's place as a box-office draw and Cameron as one of the most innovative action filmmakers of the 1980s, a position he's managed to hold well into the new millennium. —Zack Smith