FILM by Shane “it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is” Hnetka

The first months of any year are usually slow, movie-wise. Studios tend to dump bad movies (Jupiter Ascending, Dirty Grandpa, the Robocop remake) hoping to recover at least some of the costs when there’s less competition for audience dollars. A few good movies with limited appeal (such as last year’s excellent ’70s stoner thriller, Inherent Vice) offer a little relief.

This year has been unusual. The Force Awakens blasted into 2016 at point-five past light speed, redefining the January box office. On top of that, there’s a neat-looking bunch of February films on deck — Deadpool, Zoolander 2 and the Coen brothers’ golden-age-of-Hollywood-set comedy Hail Caesar all have potential.

But while we’re enjoying this unseasonal run of fun movies, let’s not forget about Cineplex’s yearly Great Digital Film Festival. It’s always a highlight of my cinema calendar.


From Feb. 5 to 11, Cineplex will screen recent blockbusters and classic movies for $6.99. This year’s lineup isn’t too shabby: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek Into Darkness, Beverly Hills Cop, Serenity, Inception, Looper, Big Trouble in Little China, Ghostbusters, The Thing, The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, From Dusk till Dawn, Runaway Train, True Romance and Dirty Harry.

The lineup ranges from adequate (From Dusk Till Dawn, True Romance, Star Trek Into Darkness) to excellent. Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is sadly timely, since star David Bowie just passed away. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Road Warrior, Dirty Harry, Runaway Train and Big Trouble in Little China are all awesome films I could watch multiple times.

But I’m most interested in John Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic, The Thing.

Who Goes There?

The Thing is set in the frigid Antarctic, inside an isolated American research base. After a nearby Norwegian compound is destroyed, the Americans realize they’re harbouring a shape-changing alien intruder that devours and takes the form of any living being it can get its clawed tentacles on. Paranoia sets in as no one is sure who is human and who is… a Thing.

The Thing is John Carpenter’s best movie. The tension builds and builds, the wildly gory and imaginative special effects still look awesome and Kurt Russell is excellent as the sleep-deprived voice of reason. It will be a treat to see it on the big screen again.

So when February rolls around and you don’t feel like wasting money on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, remember The Great Digital Film Festival. Why pass up a chance to see great movies for less money?

Shane Hnetka is a professional film and comic book nerd.