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In The Hateful Eight, Kurt Russell stars as a member of an ensemble that finds itself isolated in a snowy landscape as paranoia lingers in the air and everyone begins to question everyone’s motivations. If this sounds familiar, it’s because that same description could be just as easily applied to John Carpenter’s The Thing. What you probably don’t know, however, is that the 1982 sci-fi classic was an important influence on Quentin Tarantino’s movie – mostly in terms of establishing tone and atmosphere, but also through its brilliant score.
Earlier this month, I had the amazing chance to sit down with Kurt Russell one-on-one during the Los Angeles press day for The Hateful Eight, and it was in the midst of our lively and energetic conversation that I brought up the connections that can be drawn between the new film and one of the best title’s on the actor’s resume. Russell not only revealed that The Thing was one of the features that Tarantino screened for the cast prior to the start of shooting, but also drew a parallel between the great horror movie and The Hateful Eight, connecting them through themes of paranoia (simultaneously explaining why 1982 audiences really didn’t get it). Said Russell,
When John Carpenter and I were making The Thing… John’s a horror filmmaker. So, there’s an element of horror going on here, right? Well, the horror is so crazy in 1982, the year of E.T.. Now, you’re being asked to look at this horrific thing and look past it to see that the movie is really about paranoia. It was too much. I felt like once you put that monster in there, it’s asking too much of the audience. I don’t think it’s asking too much, but it’s taken all that time for [it to be appreciated].
As Kurt Russell also pointed out to me, however, that’s not the only link that exists between The Hateful Eight and The Thing - and that connection comes through the music and the presence of legendary composer Ennio Morricone. While Quentin Tarantino has never had an original score composed for one of his movies – instead relying on pre-existing songs - The Hateful Eight breaks that mold, and features new tracks from the same man who did the theme from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. This happens to be exactly what John Carpenter did for The Thing, as the 1982 classic was the first time that the director decided to have someone else write the score. Russell explained,
For the first time, Quentin is not going to use his source music. He’s using Ennio Morricone, and some of that comes from that movie.
If you’re like me, there are now two words coming to mind: Double Feature.
The Hateful Eight is scheduled to begin its very special 70mm nationwide roadshow this Friday, December 25th, but it will be expanding to theaters nationwide on January 1, 2016.