11 / THE BLOOD TEST
THE THING (1982)
At the peak of the paranoia that runs through John Carpenter’s masterpiece like the blackest seam of coal, Kurt Russell’s Macready hits upon an ingenious scheme: the only way to tell who’s human, and who’s a shapeshifting Thing, is by drawing out their blood and heating up the plasma. We know someone will out themselves, but we don’t know who, when or how: Hitchcock himself couldn’t have orchestrated tension this precisely. It has everything: suspense, action, heroism, gore, and an amazing punchline with Donald Moffat’s Garry raging at his fellow survivors. Incredibly, in a film featuring FX boffin Rob Bottin’s transmogrifying dogs, a chest cavity filled with fangs, and a disembodied head that turns into a spider, the scene also has the film’s simplest effect: the hand Russell uses to hold the petri dish is a fake. It’s so good Robert Rodriguez borrowed the scene wholesale for The Faculty. And praise doesn’t come any higher than that.