The Thing (2011) SPOILERS

OK, so I have very fond memories of the 1982 version of ‘The Thing’ by John Carpenter. It scared the piss out of me when I first saw it.  So you can understand that I was a bit skeptical in 2011 when I heard they had remade ‘The Thing.’ I know that movie nerds are going to tell me that complaining about remakes is lame but since I’m old enough to have seen the original ‘The Thing’ in the theater and loved every blood soaked, chest-bursting, eye popping minute of it, the fact that I bitch, bitch, bitch about remakes should come as no surprise.  Yes, this old person is old. Now go stick your dick in a pencil sharpener and let me complain.

That is some fucked up shit!

I was a bit less annoyed when I heard that rather being a remake of the original, the new ‘The Thing’ was going to be a prequel.  In the 1982 movie, it starts during just another day at a US arctic research facility. Some Norwegians show up, trying to kill a dog that is running across the snow and the Norwegians end up dead (one in a hand-grenade accident, the other is shot when he accidentally wounds one of the Americans while he is trying to kill the dog). The Americans think that the Norwegians have just gone insane and stick the dog in the kennel. Kurt Russel flies his helicopter back to the ruins of the Norwegian station where they find everything destroyed and a very strange burned body and clues that something happened after the Norwegians found something in the ice. Unfortunately, that something is now disguised as the dog (the ‘thing’ is an alien organism that can duplicate and replace other creatures) and it starts killing off the rest of the Americans one by one.

So, I though, OK, it will be dealing with what happened at the Norwegian station BEFORE the “thing”got to the US station.  OK. Cool.  I can deal with that.  And it did.  But it was otherwise almost the same movie. Which kind of made me wonder, “Well, what was so wrong with the original that we had to have the same movie made again?” It wasn’t exactly the same, but it was ‘same enough’ to feel redundant — people find weird thing in the ice, thie weird thing ‘infects the humans and duplicates members and then tries to turn them against one another, the humans are cut off from the outside world and are trying to kill the thing and the more altruistic decide that ‘the thing’ must never leave antarctica since it will wreak havoc on humanity if it does, so freeze the thing and roll the credits.

One of the interesting things about ‘The Thing’ (1982) is that the film is filled with people being ripped apart and transforming into all sorts of slimy, rubbery, grotesque tube-filled critters that are then burned. Despite all this death and dismemberment, the scene that always made me wince the most is when some of the survivors start instigating a test to see if someone is infected, they use a scalpel to slice the thumbs of the others to check whether they were ‘dopplegangers’ or not. Maybe the rest of the bloodshed seemed so over the top and the slicing of the thumb seemed so specific that I was able to dismiss the way out mutations on fire as ‘special effects’ whereas slitting your thumb open was a pain I could relate to.

I don’t know. I think I’ll just stick with the 1982 version. I suppose if the 2011 version was the first one I saw, I wouldn’t be so ‘meh’ about the remake. And the original story concept is so good that it would be hard to get away from — I just wish they had found a way to make the plot substantially different from the last one.  Give it 2 out of 5 severed heads (and that’s a gift).

5 Comments on “The Thing (2011) SPOILERS”

  1. Paul says:

    I'm very fond of the original 1951 The Thing.

  2. Stephan Poag says:

    Holy shit! James Arness/Sheriff Matt Dillon is 'The Thing'!

    Never seen this one… will have to find it!

  3. Yeah, I'm a huge fan of the '82 movie, and saw the new one. The “prequel” held no real weight for me, but not because I felt it was the same movie. I think most of it had to do with how “clean” the new film felt. It seemed too well-lit, clear, and crisp in terms of visuals. And the effects were mostly CG. The “rubber,” mechanical effects of the original film give it a much grittier feel, and the '82 flick was just dimmer and darker, both in lighting and tone. The limitations of those “old fashioned” effects actually add something to the film, you know? CG may be more “realistic,” but it can also be quite, well, bloodless (no pun intended).

  4. Stephan Poag says:

    Anthony: I've often wondered if it is harder for actors to 'act' like they are interacting with a CGI monster rather than a rubber puppet simply because I think in most cases there may be little or nothing for the actor with a CGI monster to look at.
    I don't have any evidence to support this supposition; I've just wondered. I remember seeing Liam Neeson in that STar Wars movies and thinking he looked pretty bored compared to him in other movies. I mean, I guess when he player Schindler in “Schindler's List,” even though he probably knew the actors playing Nazis were not really Nazis, but they at least dressed like people of the period, so responding to them as if they were what they were supposed to be in the film would be easier than talking to another actor wearing one of those CGI suits covered in ping-pong balls and trying to pretend he was Jar Jar Binks.

  5. Yeah, agreed with the Nazis versus Jar Jar thing. Oh, yeah, meant to say: that thumb slicing thing in the '82 Thing? Yeah, gets me every time as well. I can almost feel it. And I'm like “come on, guys, there has to be a better place from which to get some blood!”

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