Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ultimate Gore-a-Thon: Put That Thing Down!

What can I say about 2011's The Thing?

Well?  I can say that this prequel is so close to the fucking original that I'm counting it as a remake. 'Cause, seriously?  What asshole makes a fucking prequel and gives it the same damn name as the first?  That's some marketing fail, right there.

Based on John W. Campbell's 1938 novella, Who Goes There?, this series of films started with the 1951 science fiction classic The Thing From Another World which starred James Arness  as, basically, a space carrot.  This was remade in 1982 by John Carpenter and is widely considered one of the best sci-fi/horror films ever made.  (It was part of his "Apocalypse Trilogy" along with Prince of Darkness and In The Mouth of Madness.)  It didn't do well in the theaters (despite staying in the number one spot for three weeks, mostly due to Blade Runner and the more optimistic "alien presence" of Stephen Spielberg's E.T., The Extraterrestrial being released at about the same time but the home video market MORE than made up for it.  This version is actually more faithful to the story and is our first "darker and edgier reboot".

In 2011, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., who's name I will not even attempt to pronounce, appears to be the aforementioned asshole that named his prequel after John Carpenter's film along with the producers who felt that a "colon title" would have cheapened the experience.  I have a sockful of nickels waiting for them.

Also, because they made me listen to Norwegian folk songs and read subtitles.

The film begins with the Norwegians finding the spacecraft.  Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is brought to the Antarctic research station to assist a Norwegian research team in an expedition to uncover a spacecraft buried in the ice.  She's told that they also found a life form and the block of ice containing it is brought back to base.

She then spends the rest of her Antarctic visit pissing herself.

As expected, because if it didn't happen we would all be VERY disappointed, the creature eventually escapes it's icy prison and gets all up in everybody's face.  Literally.  See, this "thing" is a shapeshifter that can imitate organic matter... meaning people.  Of course, had we WATCHED the Carpenter version, we would know that.

So, basically, the monster mows down Norwegians one by one and takes their forms.  You would THINK, seeing as how it's MOSTLY seen as a multi-limbed, tentacled, hentai-lookin' monstrosity that it would have trouble wrangling all of that extra flesh but it really doesn't.  Kate eventually has to come up with a test to determine who's still human.  Remember that "inorganic" thing I mentioned?  Apparently the Thing can't mimic dental fillings.

Because, really?  Who has time to worry about hygiene when you look like this?



So, yeah.  The rest of the film is built on paranoia and mistrust, much like the original.  There is gore and limbs a-plenty, much like the original.  There are "kill it with fire" moments, just like the original.  The film ends with the Thing, in the form of the deceased dog from the beginning of its rampage, being chased, and thus we are brought full-circle.

Now, I'm not going to say that I hated this movie because I didn't. It was a very GOOD movie.  It was well done, the CGI effects were passable, even though the practical effects in Carpenter's were VASTLY superior, and I didn't want to waterboard actors every ten minutes until their performance improved.  My gripe is not the movie itself.  My gripe is that the producers, who were all about remaking Dawn of the Dead as a remake decided to get all high-muckety-muck with their "art" and refused to do a remake because, and I quote, "it would be like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa."

Are you fucking kidding me?  You had NO problem remaking Dawn of the Dead, a CLASSIC of the zombie sub-genre, but you're gonna draw the line at The Thing?  And THEN you bring me a prequel that, while it's enjoyable, doesn't bring anything new to the table from a visual, special effects or plot standpoint and really is just a remake with different characters?  And on top of THAT, you decide to name it the same damn thing so people think it's a fucking remake anyway?  
There comes a point where you need to step back and say "Why the hell am I doing this" and if the answer is anything other than "I loved the original and I want to add my voice and my vision to the mythos" you need to not do the project.  It felt to me that Universal just wanted to hang onto their production rights for a little while longer because there was no new voice or vision, here.  It was the old voice and vision being put on a pedestal.


  1. Good article Bob :-) I hate it when a movie attempts to be both a prequel and a reboot. I had this same frustration with "Prometheus" because it was a prequel but it wasn't but it kind of was but it really wasn't but really was but not really...

    I haven't seen this one, though I watched the original (original Carpenter remake?) and was like "Whaaaaaa?" I love horror..

    1. What kills me about Prometheus isn't the "it is but kind of isn't". It's that it plainly IS but Ridley Scott lied to us about it. It's just going to take a couple more sequels to bring it to where Alien began.

      Horror does bring some awesome things our way, doesn't it? ;0-)

  2. I'm sure you've probably seen this, but if not, check the practical effects created for The Thing that went largely unused:

    I'm thinking that more extensive use of these effects and less computer generation would have made this feel more like the prequel it was intended to be. I was actually astounded by how much attention was paid to detail in the recreation of some of the sets from Carpenter's version, too. I suspect what was originally intended was a helluva a lot closer to a proper prequel than what we got, and I suspect that's largely because Universal got cold feet and chose to "remakify" the movie more to hedge their bets.

    They had brilliant practical effects from Oscar winner Rick Baker for their remake of The Wolfman,too, and chose to scrap them for pretty much the same reason.

    1. I LOVE those!! Why didn't they actually USE them? Just because it starts insectoid doesn't mean that it has to stay that way. GRRRR, Hollywood can get me so mad.

      And scrapping ANYTHING by Rick Baker gets some director a slap in the dick.