The Thing (2011)
John Carpenter’s 1982 ‘The Thing’ was an eye-popping mix of tension and gory special effects which were mind blowing at the time, and are still effectively shocking today. So when word of the remake or prequel started to come through, it seemed ridiculous, nothing could top it.
And now this remake (or, ok, officially a prequel) has been out for a couple of years, and I still haven’t watched the whole movie, let’s just make that clear now. However, I have peeked at the shiny innards of the film, having grown curious about the way they treated the iconic, shapeshifting alien which so troubled Kurt Russell and Keith David back in 1982.
And you know what? I was pleasantly blown away by the new movie’s monstrous effects. I was expecting much ropier CGI than this, and they’ve brought us a beautifully horrendous and importantly a very SOLID looking monster. Im only going by a youtube copy here, so can’t say for absolutely certain that it’s flawless. But neither is it a SyFy channel lame duck, there’s no unconvincing SharktaPus rubbish for this remake. The new Thing has some quality nasty going on. And arms…with teeth,,,and merging with your face and…and….dissolving and spearing and…owch. Wow.
I really didn’t think it would be any good, but this is pretty twisted. Yes, the Dead Space movie could get made, and if we’re lucky it’d look half as good as this.
The video below contains spoilers, but if like me you don’t want to tarnish the memory of the original film (which, yes, I am well aware was ALSO a remake of a quality black and white ‘man in a rubber suit’ extravaganza from RKO in the 1950s) then this is an excellent way to taste of the meat of the latest version. Weirdly, it’s now a lot likelier I will look at this once it pops up on Netflix, or becomes very, very cheap on blu ray. Or if I win it in a raffle…
Although it could be argued that this gives away all the good bits, if the remake is any good at all it should survive that. In the mid-1990s, Lenny Henry ruined the surprise of the SFX in the 1982 The Thing. I foolishly watched a documentary he presented about monsters in movies, shortly before ITV network (UK) was broadcasting the whole ‘Thing’ movie. Still loved it to pieces.
So if my appreciation of the 1982 movie remains unaffected by seeing all the goodies ahead of any narrative, maybe the prequel isn’t going to be so bad after all. Let’s remember that high tension and relatable characters made the Carpenter version vastly rewatchable. Perhaps this new attempt has nailed it as well. Perhaps.
Generally, though, a prequel is stuck in its own dead end of time, doomed to copycat whatever enthralled viewers of the originals, whilst charging boldly through the motions like a soulless running zombie. What happened to the Norwegian team, who the US research team tried to help, was already quite evident during the scenes when Macready checks out what remained of their camp. I keep calling the prequel a remake because John Carpenter pretty much nailed the interesting part of that story, and all its lovely Lovecraftian elements as well. Frankly, the prequel looks like more of a ‘look what we can do now’, which is fine, but not necessarily as intriguing. Of course that could be age talking, too…
What would be interesting to see is an actual sequel to the John Carpenter movie, with Macready and Childs stopping the Thing in another setting. Or at least something that moves the story along, or tries it from a fresh angle. The logical progression would be to move it to the desert. Right? A ‘Thinged’ camel would be pretty awesome….it already looks like a camel spider. Gulp.
On a final (heavhanded?) note, the Thing monster is endlessly transforming and adapting to survive its new environment, and the blockbuster industry could definitely learn a thing or two from that.