It’s the holidays and we’re feeling it even here in the Sewer. This year we’re taking stock of the many gifts we’ve gotten from the movies over the years and celebrating them in the form of a Christmas carol. In our own special way.

While the traditional 12 Days of Christmas counts up from one, we think it’s more fun to count down between now and the big day (and yeah, we built in some slack for ourselves). So sit back and get ready for some great moments from some great CHUD favorites, and some possible holiday gift ideas while we’re at it.

On the fourth day til Christmas my true CHUD sent to me…

Four human petris

R.J. MacReady has problems. The remaining members of the team at Antarctic research outpost #31 are tied to chairs. Petri dishes full of their blood are on a desk ready to be probed with a hot wire. We know that one of the blokes in the chairs is an alien in disguise. It seems a pretty good bet that MacReady is right, that when he sears the alien’s blood it will react to the attack just as if he’d attacked a full-size version of the creature. So he goes down the line, heating dishes of blood in succession — including his own — until one reacts.

In a film that’s full of big gore the little shot of jumping alien blood is a great shock that gets almost everyone. You know it’s coming, and even on the first viewing you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of what it’ll look like. But the paranoia has been thickening in scene after scene and you’ve just experienced one of the nastiest things John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing From Another Planet (or, more properly, his fairly faithful adaptation of original story ‘Who Goes There?’) has to offer in the grand toothy defibrillation. The petri test punctuates a tense pause in the action and leads into more beautiful latex effects, enough flamethrower action to clear a cane field and one of the best lines in Donald Moffat’s career: “…but when you find the time, I’d rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!”

It’s also a nice little effects setup. The exploding blood lasts about four frames, and requires a good little fake hand rig to work. Carpenter is smart enough to shoot the fake hand for the previous blood test, too, and a lot of people won’t ever notice the hand gag without frame-stepping through the sequence.

Looking at my old copy of The Thing ‘collector’s edition’ DVD makes me really want the new Blu-Ray disc, which would be a fine gift for anyone who’s seen the film twenty times. For the folks already enabled with the latest and greatest in disc technology, there’s always the original film on DVD and the recent MacReady versus Dog playset. If you’ve got a PS2 kicking around, the sequel video game from ’02 wasn’t too bad, and you can score it for a couple bucks.