Father's Day has never been one of my favorite holidays. My relationship with my father was difficult, to say the least. His relationship to everyone was difficult.

My own children and grandchildren are grown or moved away. Father's Day isn't a particularly enjoyable thing for me.

However, I was excited as hell that John Carpenter's cold war paranoia classic, The Thing, was playing as a Fathom Event. There was no way I was about to miss it.

We went to the 3:00 show and the theater, a monolithic AMC property with twenty-four screens, was fairly crowded. Most people were there to see the new Top Gun movie.

I never hated Top Gun, but I can't say I ever particularly liked the movie. I didn't see Top Gun in a theater back in 1986, but it was almost impossible to miss it. Most people loved this crowd-pleaser. To me it was a huge example of how movies were influenced by MTV. The whole production looked like a slick music video.

This was before I became vaguely nauseated by Tom Cruise. I liked him in Risky Business, and I thought he was outstanding in Taps. If you allow yourself to be carried away by Top Gun, it is an enjoyable movie. Tony Scott knew how to effectively manipulate an audience, that's for sure.

I gotta tell you, seeing the crowded theater did my heart good. People looked happy and excited. Popcorn was popping and the employees looked busy and enthusiastic. I even got a free popcorn since I am a Stubs member and it's my birthday month.

Top Gun is a perfect movie for Father's Day. A great popcorn flick to take the old man to see. Maybe bring back a little of that old gung ho Reagan-era patriotism.

Top Gun: Maverick isn't going to fix the current situation, but it's a good salve to help heal our many wounds. Everyone seems to like this movie. People are getting out and enjoying it.

Then there was the movie I was there to see. John Carpenter's The Thing! One of the greatest genre films of all time, and probably the best remake ever made. I first saw The Thing in a now-deceased drive-in, along with Psycho 2. God, those were the days.

Mick Garris, certainly one of the nicest people in the horror industry, was incensed by this Fathom Events presentation of The Thing. The aspect radio was wrong. The colors were saturated and the entire movie looked and sounded bad. He urged fans to avoid Fathom Events and people are echoing the sentiment.

I have a different take on it.

Yes, absolutely, Fathom Events needs to get its shit together. There's no excuse for the lack of professionalism they displayed with The Thing. Many people who watch movies don't know or care about little details like aspect ratio, but true fans most emphatically do. People who come to see The Thing are real movie lovers. They deserve better. John Carpenter and his cast and crew deserve better. If they want people to come back to the theaters, the Fathom Events crew need to do their parts.

On the other hand, it was great to be there. The audience was respectful and were clearly as enamored of The Thing as I am. See, I came up in the VHS days. We put up with atrocious prints back then. Cropped images, pan-and-scan releases, bad color, iffy sound, sometimes even edited movies. We still loved it.

Then there were the drive-ins. The drive-in was never about perfection. The sound was often deplorable and we sometimes had to squint to see the screen. Light pollution was a distraction, as were noisy cars from nearby highways and ear-splitting jets flying overhead.

It was about the experience. The very act of seeing a treasured movie. A visceral motion picture like The Thing, with shocking sequences and nail-biting suspense is greatly enhanced when seen with a group.

I had a wonderful time watching The Thing yesterday. Warts and all.

I have little desire to join the plebes at MCU or Star Wars shows, or even Top Gun. People coming out to see The Thing are among the greatest movie fans in the world, and being in their company was a pleasure.

We need to keep it alive. I truly believe that constantly staying cooped up in our homes to watch movies, interact with friends and family, and shop will be the death of us. We desperately need the communal experience. Please help to keep it alive by getting out to see some movies this summer. And ever after that.

Written by Mark Sieber

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