Eh. That’s the only emotion I can evoke from the “The Thing”. Of course, I am not the only person to have said that about the film because those of us who experienced John Carpenter’s original masterpiece are spoiled by originality and man-made special effects. Remember those? I feel like I’m turning into a curmudgeon when it comes to remakes in general, but especially when it comes to horror film remakes. And by the way, the John Carpenter version was a remake. The original, original was released in 1951. I remember my dad telling me that he saw that film as a kid so when the 1982 version came out, it was an instant family tradition. Sick, huh? I don’t think he could have ever imagined that he was taking his twelve-year-old daughter to witness the spider-head.
Let’s start with the clear distinction between John Carpenter’s original and this Thing. John Carpenter’s was indeed, a horror film. It was disturbing, hopeless, terrifying, shocking, way the hell ahead of its time, and it still holds up. If you want to be technical about it, it was a sci-fi horror film which gave Alien a run for its money. (Alien came out a few years prior but was the reigning shocker for this time period.) This prequel started out OK, then made the mistake that so many horror films make today. It turned into an action-adventure movie. I realize that we are now dealing with an audience that has a five second attention span so in an effort to expose a new audience to “the classics”, there is an ardent need to tweak an original story line and bring it into the future. I hate that! STOP IT! I’m finished with that. How about teaching this generation how to appreciate a well-told story with proper character build up so you at least give a rat’s ass about the people whose demise you are witnessing. The 1982 version started out a bit slow. It was an involved, intelligent story that required your attention, not to stay on track but to appreciate the elements, the surroundings, and the situation that these men were in.
For those who were never fortunate enough to experience the John Carpenter version starts with a helicopter chasing a beautiful husky, which sets the scene for dread from the get go. You wonder why they are chasing this beautiful creature only to find rather quickly that things are not as they appear. The American researches who join the scene, learn that the helicopter was the remaining Norwegian researches who were there before them, having succombed to a mutating alien they had discovered in the ice. That’s it.
So what did that Thing have that this Thing didn’t have? Well, I get that this current one is a sequel so the filmmakers are hoping that there won’t be any comparisons, only appreciation for both films separately. Sorry. The first had Kurt Russell, who was once an untouchable badass who could easily shame current day wannabe badasses. The other missing element is the patience the 1982 version had. It started out with a bang, but still maintained a pace that kept building without becoming a kitschy, action film. The action scenes were tension building, not adventurous. Big difference. The best part of the 2011 version for me? The ending credits. Not just because the film ended but because it salvaged it’s importance (if any) by tying in to the beginning of the 1982 version. Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler. I’m just saying to stay for the credits if you do intend to see it. I didn’t hate this movie, I’m just guilty of trying to turn this into something that it’s not.