So once again we have survived.

The Thing (2011 premaquel)

tn_thethingWell, here’s the thing…

(get it?)

Let’s say you love John Carpenter’s THE THING so much you want to make a prequel to it explaining what led up to the dog running from the burnt up base. And you’re very careful to stay true to the tone and style of the 1982 movie, and to make all the little details match up. Then what do you call your movie?

Well, THE THING, of course. To mimic THE THING and take its place, like a Thing.

This new THE THING that could never pass the blood test is exactly what I predicted a long time ago: a well executed version of a movie I don’t think should’ve been made. I was impressed by how they backwards-engineered everything from the real one. They get all the skirmishes that lead to a guy with his throat slit here, a fire there, an ax stuck in that wall. It’s an interesting exercise but I think also a fundamental misunderstanding of storytelling. If there was some reason to know the details of what happened here then Carpenter could’ve opened his movie with the shit hitting the fan. Instead he chose to show the already-shit-covered fan, knowing it was more spooky to see the aftermath and have to fill in the blanks yourself. The very fact that his opening is great proves that this new movie shouldn’t have been made.

mp_thethingIn this THE THING the spaceship is discovered under the ice near the Thing, who must not have been wearing his seatbelt. It’s a Norwegian crew, played by famous Norwegian actors, but they call in an American scientist (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) for her expertise, so that’s how we get some English in there. Joel Edgerton from WARRIOR and ANIMAL KINGDOM is also there, but he’s not in charge, he’s a blue collar guy that helps fly them in on a helicopter. So she’s the brains, he’s the muscle.

After they carve out a block of Thing on ice they leave it in the Frozen Alien Storage Room and go have a late night drinking session. I appreciate the camaraderie in this scene but I gotta question whether they really would be doing this after discovering proof of alien life. I kind of doubt they’d all be able to get their mind off the alien they know is in the other room. I think they’d all be standing around with blowdryers trying to melt that thing.

I thought Winstead would be out of place, but I think she does well glammed down and real serious. One of my buddies couldn’t believe it when I told him that was Lucy McClane and the blue-haired dream girl from SCOTT PILGRIM and the cheerleader from DEATH PROOF. She’s the lead, which is kind of smart. If Edgerton was the lead he’d seem like a Kurt Russell substitute. Winstead gives a Ripley-esque performance, and I don’t mean that in the usual superficial sense but in the sense that she’s figuring out what these goofballs haven’t yet, she realizes the gravity of the situation, and she shows it all on her face. There is definitely a big ALIEN influence, especially when they go inside the ship.

Of course one of the most beloved aspects of John Carpenter’s version is the crazy monster FX by Rob Bottin. These aren’t as groundbreaking or original as those, because they’re just expanding on his idea of human body parts lumped together in disgusting shapes, but I thought for the most part they did a good job. I saw on the blu-ray how the company from the later ALIENSes did the animatronic dummies – more of them than I expected, ’cause I assumed it was pretty much all digital. But they came up with some crazy Thing configurations and are able to make them run around and be more action-y.

There are some pretty good character moments. I like when the head of the expedition has to be defensive about calling the alien “fascinating.” People have died, so everybody looks at him sideways for showing any enthusiasm for the science of it. “It is fascinating,” he has to say.

One thing I didn’t believe: that one of these guys would use the word “frickin'” when freaking out about the missing killer alien being. And it’s an R-rated movie, it’s not like they weren’t allowed to use “fuckin’.” I just don’t buy that somebody would tone down their language in a situation like this. If anything they would be so freaked out they’d throw in a bunch of extra cocksuckers and motherfuckins and everything. When depicting people who are just realizing that they will probly be killed by a being whose very existence has completely changed their entire view of reality, err on the side of harsh language, I say.

The storyline mimics the first one. They even almost invent the same blood test, but then decide to create the same sort of tension by making everybody show their teeth and if they don’t have metal fillings (which the Thing can’t replicate) they’re a suspect. Towards the end (SPOILER) they have the same type of 2-people-left-and-one-could-be-The-Thing dilemma, but they resolve it differently. By resolving it. Actually I like what they did (if I understand it correctly) but I think they threw in one little thing that sort of killed it.

SPOILER END DISCUSSION THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY. See, Winstead mentions Edgerton’s earring, he reaches to feel if it’s still there, but reaches for the wrong ear, according to her. So he’s The Thing so she blowtorches him. When she does it he doesn’t sprout a bunch of tentacles or anything, but they did put in a little bit of a Thing squeal. It would be perfect without that sound, which seems to definitely tell you that he’s an alien. It would be great if we had no information at all and just had to decide for ourselves whether she saved the day or whether she burned an innocent man alive because he (or even she) had a poor memory about jewelry in stressful situations. That would put it more in line with the ambiguity of Carpenter’s ending, but with a good spin on it.

OKAY, A LITTLE MORE SPOILER END DISCUSSION IN THIS PARAGRAPH ALSO. It’s kind of cool though that she gets away, and there’s more ambiguity there. Did she make it to safety? Just because we don’t see her dead in the first one doesn’t mean she didn’t survive. Maybe she’s out there somewhere.

In a way THE THING (2011) is sadly emblematic of modern pop culture: a whole bunch of talented people working really hard to try to imitate something from the past, filling in background details instead of blazing new trails. It makes you realize that it’s not just the remakes and reboots and prequels and toydaptations. Even some of the things we love are Things, lavish re-creations of something that already exists. Tributes and homages and references. Think HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, for example. Good movie, but mostly because it seems so authentically made-in-the-early-’80s. One of my favorite movies of recent years was a fake blaxploitation movie. This year’s Academy Award for best picture went to a fake silent movie. Shit is so bad now that we yearn for what we loved in the past, for the “old school,” some kind of throwback. It’s hard to think maybe something better could come along, so we want to aim back at the past.

A prequel to THE THING is so obviously a terrible idea that they had to constantly appease fans in the promotions. Don’t worry, we’re big fans of John Carpenter, don’t worry, we’re big fans of practical effects. That whole “fan = quality” myth again. I think the movie proves that they genuinely are big fans of the Carpenter movie, but the magic of fandom doesn’t turn a bad idea good. Do you think Carpenter ever had to appease the fans of the Hawks movie, or the short story? Hey guys, don’t worry, I’m a huge Hawksgeek. Probly not. The movie speaks for itself.

It’s extra sad to do to this particular movie, because Carpenter’s THE THING took a great Howard Hawks produced classic and showed that it could be re-interpreted with an entirely different sensibility and be even better. Carpenter worships Hawks and put THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD on the TV in HALLOWEEN and this was his dream project. But he didn’t try to make it feel like the Hawks one or explain what happened before the Hawks one, he did his own thing. I feel like these filmatists got the wrong lesson out of that, though. Instead of “you can do a remake in your own way” they got “this is what a remake looks like.”

I have no idea whether to recommend for or against this movie. It’s a decent movie, just a terrible trend. Should you watch it? I don’t know, it depends. And the way it leads into the beginning of THE THING (and then starts playing the correct music) just makes you want to watch THE THING immediately. It’s a good thing if young people that never watched that one are co-erced into watching it because of this.

There is only one proper way to pay tribute to this THE THING, and that is to do another premaquel that explains how that ship got frozen under the ice. It will be called THE THING. It will be part of a trilogy, each one going further back into explaining. The other two are called THE THING and THE THING, or collectively “THE THING.”

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 1:01 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

99 Responses to “The Thing (2011 premaquel)”

  1. I agree with you to a certain degree, Vern. But remakes have been a part of the movie industry for a hundred years. It’s not a new thing (get it?). Some are bad, some are good and some are even better than the original. Carpenter’s The Thing is a classic. But I could argue that his remake of Rio Bravo, Assault of Precinct 13, isn’t even close to the original. But it’s still a really cool movie. My point, if I have one, is that I would recommend this movie.

    Norway is a small country, and for me and my fellow country men it is of course really cool to see actors that you pass on the street almost every day doing a movie like The Thing. I once guided Stig Henrik Hoff around the building I work in for half a day. He was doing research for some Norwegian movie.

    As for the party scene, well we don’t need much of an excuse for having a party here in the freezing cold. Or down there, I should say.

  2. they really should have just done a sequel, there was a video game based on The Thing about a decade ago that acted as a sequel and although I never finished it the plot was pretty cool from what I remember (it involved a group of soldiers investigating the base Aliens style)

  3. With the two leads on their way to the Russian base I guess a sequel is more or less unavoidable. I predict molotov cocktails made with vodka.

  4. Yeah, of course remakes have been around forever, but premaquels haven’t. My point is that Carpenter’s THE THING is the perfect example of how remakes can be great. A remake can take a familiar story and tell it in a new way. This takes the same story and tries to tell it in the same way, except earlier. There’s less room for surprise because it’s just trying to just explain how the dead bodies ended up where they ended up. There’s less room for innovation because they’re trying to make it match the same era and tone and look. The only thing that’s really different is the music, which you really notice is not as good when the original music finally kicks in at the end.

    But yeah, they did a good job of a bad thing.

    Incidentally I don’t blame Norway for any of this. You’re off the hook.

  5. You mean those crazy Swedes…

  6. So after starring next to Kurt Russell in SKY HIGH and DEATH PROOF, Mary Elisabeth Winstead now kinda IS Kurt Russell! She’s a Thing too!

    It’s interesting that they show in the extras all the animatronic stuff, because from what I’ve heard, most of it WAS replaced with not-so-good digital FX in the movie. (Kinda like in THE WOLFMAN. What’s up with Universal and digitalizing already made practical FX?)

    A few years ago, I read somewhere a script review for a THING sequel, that was supposed to be made as TV miniseries. I even think it was written by Frank Darabont. It was supposed to take place in a small town somewhere in the woods and it featured Thingified bears and other animals. The guy who wrote about it, liked it a lot.

  7. Dutch guy directed this apparently, though nobody here has ever heard of him. That’s not gonna change much because of this film, I think. It’s well made but so unambitious and bland that my brain never registered it was actually watching something.

    Also, it surprises me to hear that they apparently used a lot of practical effects in this? Shit looked like bad CGI to me… If there really was a lot of practical stuff, they could’ve spared themselves the effort.

  8. I only wished MacReady saw this movie so he finally could get his facts straight that they are crazy norwegian,NOT swedes. I resent the notion that we are crazy!

    Anyway,this is one of those movies where I don´t know IF I want to see it, but still is curious enough to give it a watch. I´m glad they did not remade Carpenters film and made a prequel instead, even if it seems kind of pointless. Ít seems kind of interesting as a “whatif?” kind of a scenario in my opinion,though.

  9. CJ – Ah, that explains it. So the bad looking CGI was in fact just bad looking CGI after all.

  10. OJ (not that one)

    March 9th, 2012 at 3:47 am

    Vern, can I just point out this short story I found on the net? (Honestly, I don’t get anything for linking to it.) It’s called “The Things” and tells the story of Carpenter’s movie from the POV of the alien which has a hard time getting its, erm, head around the concept of blobs of biomass thinking of themselves as separate from each other. It couldn’t be filmed, I don’t think, but I loved it for doing pretty much what you demand, taking the familiar and twisting it in a completely different direction. Read it here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/watts_01_10/

  11. …but did they really have to call this one THE THING also? Since it´s a prequel, here´s some suggestions;
    FIRST THINGS FIRST
    THE THING ZERO (moronic, I know, but it IS a prequel)
    THE THING THAT CAME BEFORE
    THE THING NOBODY WILL REMEMBER
    THE THING FROM ANOTHER DECADE
    A NEW THING

    I don´t know….

  12. We all know that if it had been Swedish scientists they would have secured the thing so that no one could trip over the ice block and hurt themselves. Then they would have filed a lot of reports and had the thing flown out of thre in a secure plane within hours. Under no ciruimstances would they have had a party. Alcohol and smoking would have been banned and everyone would have been clean shaven and…Need I go on, you get the picture. Right, Shoot?

  13. Yeah, actually going ahead and calling it THE THING? That right there pissed me off so much it killed any interest I may have had in seeing it.

    The whole thing (ahem) comes off as just so unnecessary, but it’s nice to note they at least made it with respect in terms of making sure it all linked in with Carpenter’s film.

    All this talk of sequels, reminds me of the comic book follow-ups that were around in the early/mid 90s from Dark Horse. They were pretty good, IIRC.

  14. Jareth Cutestory

    March 9th, 2012 at 8:03 am

    I’m inclined to think that these “re-imaginings” a symptomatic of the near-complete unwillingness of the studios to invest their money in anything but the most familiar “franchises.” Hiring geeky technicians who slavishly recreate the original films represents the studios’ unwillingness to take a chance on an actual director with a unique vision. Every year the film industry seems to resemble the insurance industry more and more.

    The only “re-imagining” of THE THING that I want to see is Carpenter’s THE THING locked in a room with THE THING (2011) trying to figure out which one is the imposter. Take about 3 seconds.

  15. I need to stress that pegsman paints a pretty grim picture of how swedish authorities work. And while he may be right,no fuckin swede would be so damn clumsy with a handgrenade to blow their own helicopter up.

    Seriously,pegsman. That is the single worst use of handgrenades I´ve ever seen in a movie! Trying to cover up a live grenade with snow??!! THAT´s the norwegian way,motherfuckers.

    And they are bad shooters as well as it takes several men to take out a wolfdog and failing.
    In short, norwegians are idiots with weapons…..

  16. Durrr, me no undurrstand, dere is uh big alien that kills duh men wiv duh beards and dere is uh lot of dead peoples from dur uvver base allreddy. What cud of happened? Please make uh film to explain it to thick old me…

    Vern, you are a better man than I for looking into this cynical exercise and seeing any details of note. My one sentence twittereview from the film’s release was ‘The Thing is a Thing of The Thing’. This is a terrible film, not just because of the really bad lack of individual characterisation or fx (animatronics? Where? The cgi in this film was appalling), but because it is arrogant enough (regardless of the pre-release fan ass-kissing) to render a large part of Carpenter’s film retroactively superfluous. If we know exactly what happens at the Norwegian camp, why do we need to see MacReady and Pals wandering around the wreckage looking at corpses? It’s about as pointless as having a prequel to The Crying Game showing the Main chick growing up in a (spoiler) all boys’ school.

    I’ll tell you what, OJ, that short story is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more interesting.

  17. BUT, to come to your defense, these bumbling idiots don´t seem to speak norwegian,only gibberish!

  18. So let me get this straight. All of you guys spent the better part of a year bitching about this abomination, this THING THAT SHOULD NOT BE. You knew it was going to suck, that it was indicative of everything you hate about modern cinema. And then you saw it anyway.

    You’re voting with your dollars, people. Even if you just rented it or streamed it on Netflix, that information is going somewhere. Some bean counter is adding another few cents on the tally, until it finally hits that magic number where a red light goes off and they say, “Okay, that’s what the people want. More remakes, less original ideas.” And then we all complain about it, and then a bunch of people see it anyway, and the circle of shit continues.

    I gave up seeing Mary Elizabeth Winstead with a flamethrower for my beliefs. That’s how strong I feel about this. Time for you guys to figure out which side you’re on.

    (Should I throw a smiley face on here to let you guys know I’m not being a totally self-serious ass here and I understand that sometimes curiosity and/or boredom overwhelms our best intentions so I’m really not judging you? How about we just say the smiley face is understood. Throw a few lolz on there if it’ll help.)

  19. Mr Majestyk- I have not yet payed a single krona (my currency) on this flick. And I will not. If I see this it would be through mumblemumblemumble and nothing else. I am curious however how this shit turns out. Being swedish I´d love to see how the norwegians could possibly fuck up more than they did in Carpenter´s flick. Seriously, the norwegians were the BennyHills of that movie. What a bunch of fuckups that can´t even hold a hand grenade.

  20. Hahaha, the norwegians in Carpenters film are so fuckin terrible I would not trust them with a cup of coffee!

  21. That’s the spirit, Shoot. Mumblemumble from the Man and stick it to the Norwegians. That’s the Carpenter way.

  22. pegsman – any input?

  23. Since the current Potpourri thread is overloaded I´d wish for a new Potpourri thread where I could get my drunken ramblings of the terrible directors cut of Tony Scott´s REVENGE off my mind…

  24. I saw JOHN CARTER today, since we’re already talking about aliens and John Car(pen)ter, who once made a movie about Mars too. I enjoyed it a lot. Good story, cast and effects/action. I can’t find too much to fault about it, except maybe the framing device being a bit unnecessary and the running time(though I think they had a lot to put in there and did it in a way where nothing got short shrift). I think it’s also got a bit more weight to it than similar fare, touching on some issues like race and war, the Tharks’ more brutal practices are kept in and the film is surprisingly graphic for a Disney joint, with dismemberment, decapitation, a pretty upsetting image during a flashback, and a willingness to show blood getting spileld, particularly in a really intense and emotional battle about halfway through the film. Admittedly its BLUE blood, and usually from fantasy creations, but still. I thought Taylor Kitsch was a really capable lead, Lynn Collins is great as Dejah, and the rest of the cast did well too. Go see it.

  25. Threadjack! (Because Potpourri’s not letting me post.) Saw THE RAID last night. I’m usually not big on generic stories and characters that get by on great fights (or FX or creature design or Oscarbait performances, whatever), but this movie charges you up bigtime. The action is wall-to-wall, and varied, and visible; beautiful side effect of having one gifted guy write and direct and edit and choreograph, I guess. Those of y’all who are more aficionados of the genre than me, I’m really looking forward to your reactions.

    We now return to IT’S YOUR THING.

  26. I think I’m done with fantasy horseshit for now. But thanks for the recommendation. I’ll Netflix it someday.

    I’d rather see SILENT HOUSE. I’m kind of jonesing for a good theatrical horror movie experience. Anybody got any non-SPOILERy things to say about it?

  27. I meant JOHN CARTER, not THE RAID. THE RAID is not, to my knowledge, fantasy horseshit, so I’m seeing it as soon as I can.

  28. As always when we deal with bigheaded Swedes here in Norway we ask them to tell us a about life in Sweden during WWII. That shuts them up pretty quick.

    Like the head of security in the western series Hell on Wheels says; “They call me The Swede, but I’m actually Norwegian.” And from then on people all around the world know instinctively that this is a bad motherfucker, not some preacher out to save the world.

    As for the hand grenade handling, the actor playing Lars in Carpenter’s version was American. Jørgen Langhelle who plays him in the new movie handles himself a bit different.

    Bottom line, I recommend this movie.

  29. Yes, but norwegians are still portrayed as non-weapon handling idiots in John Carpenters movie. And as far as i am concerned that is the only movie that matters, whether or not I have seen the new pro-norwegian movie…

    And don´t give me that shit about WWII, the reason Sweden actually progressed and develeoped to a fairly rich country was partly due to lack of interference into that stupid mess called a world war. I can´t help you norwegians has pussy ass chicken shit like oil to help you out.

    Naw, I´m just joking with you, we are all brothers,right? Lookin at the EIU Democracy Index from 2011 and see how well we are doing; Norway is no 1 in the world and Sweden is no 4, the entire Nordic region is on top of the world. While USA is ranked 19(!!). I guess us northern brothers should keep together and bind an alliance to influence the entire motherfuckin´world!

  30. Jareth Cutestory

    March 9th, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I hear you, Majestyk. Not only have I not seen THE THING (2011), but I’ve also withheld my money from INDIANA JONES 4, the STAR WARS prequels, and anything Bay since ARMAGEDDON. I’d like to say that these were principled decisions, but the truth is they’re all just too fucking loud and tacky for my tastes.

    I’m actually seriously considering not watching the next BATMAN because I dislike THE DARK KNIGHT and INCEPTION so much. I definitely won’t be seeing it in the theater.

  31. I’m definitely not seeing THE DARK KNIGHT CONTINUES TO RISE FOR SOME REASON EVEN THOUGH HE’S ALREADY BEEN HERE FOR TWO MOVIES, but not because I don’t think it deserves my money. I just don’t think I’ll like it since I didn’t like the first two and I see no reason why Nolan would switch up his flow at this point. I’m resigned to this being a pop culture phenomenon that has passed me by. No hard feelings. I hope the rest of y’all like it.

  32. The biggest problem with the new Batman, as I see it, is the fact we see Batman in daylight fighting Bane, What?! Daylight!?

  33. I really do think that the Nolan Batman movies are the filmic equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes.

    The trailer for the new one has done nothing at all to change my mind so I’ll be avoiding it at the cinema when July rolls around.

    I don’t know what it about Nolan’s films in general but they rub me up the wrong way. There’s a coldness to them, perhaps. I dunno.

    Seeing as this thread has now become SON OF POTPOURRI’S DEAD, have you guys seen this recent Sly interview (with possible SPOILER of Rambo V, believe it or not):

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/06/on-feuding-with-arnold-schwarzenegger-and-whats-wrong-with-todays-action-heroes/

  34. I like most of Nolans films. MEMENTO is a masterpiece. INSOMNIA is not. BATMAN BEGINS was a good origin story shot shittely. THE DARK KNIGHT was as far as I´m concerned a bonafide masterpiece with some social philosophical discussions thrown into the mix.

    It´s sad that not everyone is onboard on me with this one, but I really feel that there is some fun that there is some vigilante message in a big budget movie these days when everything else is big colorful and retarded these days.

  35. Now create a new Potpourri thread so I could get my “Tony Scott´s directors cut of REVENGE” rantings out of the way….

  36. Jareth Cutestory

    March 9th, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Shoot: Probably the only reason I bothered with the Nolan Batman films is because I liked MEMENTO so much.

    I think a case could be made that Guy Pierce and Carrie-Anne Moss provide a crucial humanizing element to MEMENTO. A different cast might have resulted in an emptier, more manipulative film like THE PRESTIGE.

  37. Oh yeah, don’t get me started about the Nolan Batman movies again. But I wrote something about it (+the two new movies of the other biggest superheroes) a year ago:

    http://in-my-head.org/2011/01/20/i-dont-care-for-any-man-in-2012/

  38. MEMENTO is such an incredibly structured film of which kind I have never seen before or since. In this case the cast,while it´s great,bear very little significence on the impact it had on me.

  39. caruso_stalker217

    March 9th, 2012 at 11:56 am

    This was the dumbest movie I’ve seen in a long time.

  40. Wow, I didn’t know there was such animosity between Nordic folk (even if it is faux-animosity). This has been an educational discussion.

    I remember hearing somewhere that studios are skittish about practical special effects. If this is true, then there’s a chance that the filmmakers for Thing (2011) were strong armed into using CGI. For some reason, studios think that practical special effects will look fake to an audience, despite evidence to the contrary.

  41. RBatty – there is such a long history between our folks it´s hard to really cram it down in a few sentances. The only thing you can do is look into our history yourself.
    However, there is no real animosity now.
    None that I know of. But, since Norway used to be kind of a swedish colony, most swedes has a hard time acknowledge them still. I like them though!

  42. pegsman-please fill in with a norwegian perspective….

  43. Vern, I’m curious as to how you reconcile dissing the concept behind this movie, but not the PSYCHO remake. I went back and looked at that review again to see if I was remembering stuff correctly. There you seemed more defensive of Van Sant’s movie as being an interesting experiment, and said that you thought it should have actually been MORE close to the original. Here, you talk about the weakness of how the conceit of the movie does not allow for much innovation (but it would seem the PSYCHO remake would allow for so much less). Here was also get a general critique of the whole present-day reliving past glories in movies thing. So inquiring minds want to know, do you still think the PSYCHO remake was unfairly criticized, or have you changed your filmatism values a bit? Or something else?

  44. Maybe the difference is that the newer PSYCHO kind of doesn’t count as a straight up movie, but the new THE THING definitely wants us to think it is?

  45. I don’t think the comparison is fair. The PSYCHO remake was an experiment in trying to discern exactly what makes a movie what it is. If you try to follow the exact same blueprint as a previous film, will you end up with the same film, or will the changes that are beyond your control (cast, crew, film stock, etc.) necessarily transform it into something else? It’s an interesting experiment but not a very good movie, but Vern tends to give points for effort so I can see why he would stand by it.

    THE THINGMAKE, however, is just trying to steal all the parts that worked from a previous film and repackage them into a slightly new shape so they can sell it all over again. It’s like what Taco Bell is always doing. Same ingredients, different configuration.

  46. My comparison is not meant to be between the two movies, but between Vern’s reviews of the two movies. Some of the same reasons he uses to criticize THE THINGSTER sound to me like they could also be aplied to the PSYCHO remake, but weren’t. The different emphasis is interesting to me.

  47. Maybe if I never saw the original movie I would have thought this was a good movie. The problem for me is that they tried so hard to imitate the original that I couldn’t help but feel like it was completely inferior to the original. I only watched this movie out of curiosity but i don’t think I would ever recommend it to anyone who has seen the original movie. Hollywood has really gone overboard with all the remakes, sequels, and prequels. This one had absolutely nothing to add to the story and no reason to be made outside of a quick cash grab.

  48. The Sweden/Norway thing going on here just reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Milhouse’s family is revealed to be split between the danish Van Houtens and the “Damn Dutchmen!” Van Houtens.

  49. I think the difference between THE THING and PSYCHO is in their intent. THE THING probly works better as a movie in the traditional sense of entertaining the viewer with a story, or at least for most people who are more familiar with the original PSYCHO than the 1982 THE THING and therefore more distracted by comparisons to the previous version. But I never got the feeling that PSYCHO was just trying to be a new horror movies for teens to watch. It was a postmodern experiment – what happens when we take this very familiar movie and re-do it with different actors and visual style? Can we stay incredibly faithful to the text but also make it play differently?

    With PSYCHO the whole point is to have the two movies in your head and compare and contrast. With THE THING it’s detrimental to your enjoyment to have the Carpenter version in your head, because you keep thinking “oh, you mean the earlier group also came up with the blood test? What?”

    I think PSYCHO always throws a monkeywrench in these remake discussions, because I don’t know of any other remake that was trying to do anything similar to that. It’s more of an art project than a movie. Pretty much all other remakes are commercial movies (I don’t mean that in a bad way, I like plenty of them). PSYCHO is more comparable to that movie about Karen Carpenter with the Barbie dolls or something.

    I guess both are worshipful of the original movie. That’s positive. But I see PSYCHO as an attempt to play with pop iconography, THE THING as a misguided attempt to mine something valuable out of the scraps of a past success. I also see PSYCHO as a one-time-only deal and THE THING is part of an ongoing trend. It’s not at all the worst example of it, but such a perfect symbol for it because of the subject matter and the fact that it’s sort of a remake of one of the all time greatest remakes.

  50. A few quick notes about this film:

    Two additions are nice twists on the original and make it a littler bit different and fun: One, the language barrier between Winstead and everyone else helps heighten the tension by making communication difficult. Two, the new “blood test” has the side consequence of being able to exonerate some –but not all– people. So we shrink the pool of who might be a thing, but can’t say for sure who IS a thing and who’s just unlucky. Again, nice way to ratchet up the paranoia.

    One thing which I didn’t like, sadly, is the one thing this film does that the original DIDN’T do, which is take the action onto the alien ship. There it turns from a decent rip-off of THE THING to a shoddy rip-off of ALIEN(S). Right down to the ship’s design. And the thing can change shape, but can’t figure out how to fit into a narrow tube in ITS OWN SHIP? Stupid. I was about ready to give up on the THING REMAKEQUAL at that point, but the somewhat ambiguous ending w/ the earring is a pretty nice touch.

    More than anything, I think the movie is kind of an interesting experiment a la Van Sant’s PSYCHO, which reveals the inner workings of a film by meddling with the variables veerrrry slightly. Kinda worth watching for that reason.

  51. Vern — I don’t think it was THINGQUEL’s intent to be a cinematic experiment like PSYCHO, but to me it actually works on that level pretty well. It’s so close to the original, and yet just a little bit different in most details. It’s impossible not to compare, and when you compare you’re forced to ask why some things work and some things don’t, even though they’re nearly identical. What happens, for instance, when you change the dynamic from a massively bearded Kurt Russel to a tightly wound female scientist but leave the rest of the team pretty similar? It just changes the context and gives a slightly different flavor to the same events. It’s so closely connected to the original that you sort of have to be constantly thinking about the “other” way this was presented. So, I found it more interesting on that level than as an independent horror film.

  52. I gotta say, all this talk about THE THING 2011 PREMAKE has done the seemingly impossible: got me wanting to see it.

    Seriously.

    Bravo, guys.

    As soon as it hits Blu-ray over here, I’m on it.

    Shit, I even want to see Van Sant’s PSYCHO now, too.

  53. “PSYCHO is more comparable to that movie about Karen Carpenter with the Barbie dolls or something.”

    you know I actually saw that movie on youtube once, shit was super bizarre

    anyway I actually kinda wanted to see John Carter, but I’m actually sick with a cold right now, the first cold I’ve had in like 7 or 8 years, sucks huh?

  54. by the way, I bet Harry Knowles is creaming his gigantic jeans over finally getting to see his beloved John Carter movie

  55. The relationship between Norway and Sweden have always been a strange one, to say the least. I guess you could say that up until 40 years ago it was quite hostile. Or more accurate, they didn’t aknowledge us at all (up until 10 years ago they didn’t even understand Norwegian) and we hated their guts. Partly because of the 100 years of occupation that ended in 1905, but mostly because the Swedish government worked with the Germans during the occupation from 1940 to 1945. But as Shoot said, all that has changed now.

    Fun fact: there was a survei a few years ago. They looked into how people in Sweden and Norway reacted to new laws, and found out that the Swedes did what they was told straight away. The Norwegians on the other hand did the opposite of what they was told. I don’t really know what that tells us, but it might just be a clue to why we’ve never really seen eye to eye. Until now, that is.

  56. Griff: So what? It’s well known that he is a HUGE fan of the material and even tried to get a movie off the ground by himself for more than a decade. So when he is happy about finally seeing it on the big screen, although in this version he had absolutely nothing to do with it, I’m happy for him.

  57. I haven’t been able to log on to outlawvern.com for a couple of days now, and judging by the fact that nothing’s changed here since Friday I take no one else has either?

  58. CJ – I’m happy for him too, I was just making a joke

  59. nabroleon dynamite

    March 11th, 2012 at 7:22 am

    The Thing about the Thing is The Thing isn’t as good as The Thing or The Thing that came before The Thing.

    Hopefully that settles it.

  60. Longtime lurker, been reading this
    site since the geocities days. I can
    honestly state that I kinda like this
    movie. Maybe it was having my expectations
    tempered by every negative review that
    accompanied it’s release, but I liked it more
    than I probably should’ve. At least more than
    that Dawn of the Dead remake that the same
    producers were responsible for.

  61. Sometimes the problem with remakes is that they are to deferential to the original. If I’ve seen the first version, then I don’t necessarily want to see the same events but with different actors.

  62. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 11th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Nabroleon – I won’t repost my own review of “The Thing” prequel, since Vern has pretty much agreed with everything I said and expanded on certain points (namely: the movie didn’t need to be made, but they did a decent job of doing it even so). I think Carpenter’s “The Thing” is miles better than the prequel, and both are light-years better than the “original”.

    I think it’s ironic Carpenter likes the original “The Thing from Another World” because I think it’s terrible. And not in a “Munich”-style “well, it was well-made and some of the performances were great, but I hated how the director and writers chose to use the material” kinda way. I think it’s a genuinely bad movie in all sorts of ways. There’s very, very little that’s good about that movie. One or two scenes where the monster appears, maybe.

    Look, I’ve written a lot about why the 50s movie is so bad, I’m not going to repeat myself here. I think it was a doomed project from the start – they dumped everything that was interesting about Campbell’s original novella (gone is the paranoia, gone is the suspense, instead they’ve shoe-horned in the most irritating and unnecessary love-interest in ANY film I’ve ever seen, and a “scientists vs soldiers” conflict that goes precisely nowhere) and tried to turn it into a monster movie instead. What they actually made was a B-movie that isn’t in any way as entertaining as the less “classy” examples of that era (“50-ft woman”, etc). Horrible film. I’m not exaggerating. Avoid it like the plague if you have any regard whatsoever for Carpenter’s “The Thing”, or the novella it’s based on (which is a classic), because the 50s version will have you spitting blood by the end of it.

  63. For the record, I have never heard of anybody who at all agreed with anything Paul has ever said about THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, which is a very enjoyable movie if not as memorable and bleak as the Carpenter version.

  64. I don’t know if this is true, but I suspect that the scientists who found the creature in Carpenter’s The Thing became Norwegian because James Arness, who played the alien in the first version, was from Norway. Okay, I’ll stop with the Norwegian thing now (shit, I did it again).

  65. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 11th, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    @ Vern: “I also see PSYCHO as a one-time-only deal and THE THING is part of an ongoing trend. It’s not at all the worst example of it, but such a perfect symbol for it because of the subject matter and the fact that it’s sort of a remake of one of the all time greatest remakes.”

    I would agree with this, completely. I think I said in the Potpourri thread recently (can’t see most of it now, by the way) that although I actually liked the “Thing” prequel, I was glad it wasn’t a success because I didn’t want to encourage this trend. I had major reservations about spending money on the film at the cinema, but I did want to see it and I’m glad that I did.

    On the ending of the film (MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING):

    *

    I liked the earring thing, I liked the resolution, I thought it worked really well. The one thing that bothered me just a little was that the guy had never actually heard anyone mention the “test” they were using previously, so why would the Thing version of him think to put his earring back in the wrong ear? Better if she’d just pointed out that it was missing, I think.

    There are definite clues as to who’s been turned and when, which I like (and which also mirrors Carpenter’s version). The one thing I don’t know is when detatchable arms guy (can’t remember his name) gets turned. But then that kinda mirrors Palmer from the original “The Thing” – if Norris was the shadow on the wall that the dog approaches, when was Palmer taken over? There are clear hints as to when Blair is, but Palmer?

    *

    Ok END SPOILERS.

  66. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 11th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Vern – regarding your last comment – I really do not care about other people’s opinions of films in a way that it trips my ego if they don’t agree with me. I don’t begrudge you or anybody else for liking a film. I’ve liked plenty of movies that I will cheerfully admit are terrible, for entirely subjective reasons. Hell, I’m the one guy who thought “Valentine” was fantastic entertainment, and there is very little that’s redeemable about that film.

    With that in mind though… “The Thing from Another World” is another prime example of “filmmaking by committee”. They took a classic novella (one of my all-time favorites, by the way) and brutalised the shit out of it, taking EVERYTHING that was good about it and removing it, and replacing it with absolutely nothing because they thought a straight B-movie monster mashup would sell better. And they were right. You can’t blame me for being a little bitter that this piece of shit seems to be acknowledged by many people as a “classic”.

    I would go as far as to say that if “The Thing” prequel is an example of a bad trend in moviemaking today, “The Thing from Another World” is a more egregious example of a bad trend from its time. Producers had WAY too much editorial power, especially back then, and this and Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” are the two movies that demonstrate it more clearly than any others that I can think of. Adapting Francis Iles’ “Before the Fact” – another one of my all-time favorite novels – and changing the ending because Cary Grant’s agent didn’t want him to play a bad guy? Sorry, but FUCK THAT.

  67. does anyone else find it surprising that out of all the Carpenter remakes they never remade Big Trouble in Little China or Escape From New York? (I know they tried with Escape From New York)

    of course, never say never, but I really hope The Thing marks the end of all the Carpenter remakes

  68. I guess they might be worried about doing a version of the story which still includes all the Chinese Mythology stuff without being offensive?

  69. Though I can also easily picture a producer going “does our white lead HAVE to be played for laughs? Why can’t he beat up most of the bad guys, and we can just have the asian sidekick explain everything. Much more marketable, right?”

  70. Paul – so you’re saying it had too much Howard Hawks?

    I know bud, I’m used to you having one-of-a-kind reactions to movies. I only felt I had to say that because of your “avoid it like the plague” advice at the end. Of course nobody is required to agree with the consensus on a beloved classic, but it’s silly to put it out there like it’s good advice for a regular person. You must realize that most people who like classic sci-fi movies would enjoy that one.

  71. pegsman – Hey, its your friendly neighbourhood swede here. Finally I have been able to log onto this site.From now on, every time I watch Carpenter´s movie, as a recentful swede, I shall bask and revel in the utter incompetence of Norwegians in that movie. From handling handgrenades,to shooting dogs they even fail to speak their own language in the movie.

    Sorry,pegsman. But since Norway has surpassed Sweden in every other way, let us at least have this moment to enjoy,where Norwegians still were looked upon as second-rate swedes and the opening of the movie as a “rolig Norge-historia…”

  72. Oh, I mispelled resentful.

  73. The only difference I could tell from Norway and Sweden is that more people in Norway smoked.

  74. You wanna know the real difference? Norway is the MAD Magazine version of Sweden.

  75. Also, as a fan of Carpenter (well, a fan of his output over a few years at least) I have to admit that the Hills Have Eyes remake was better than the original. The Dawn of the Dead remake has a lot of merit and did something different. I don’t mind remakes, but this one was a little pointless. It seemed like it was made by a real fan, though, which can be a good thing but fans these days really seem to be slavishly devote to their fandom and have a hard time making things their own.

  76. Leave Norway alone, they send us a Christmas Tree every year.

    Sweden sent me a bookcase with almost all the bits I needed to put it together, then the back panel fell off it.

  77. Sweden pioneered that low-budget remake film style remember?
    http://youtu.be/2aLgdMz0p5Y

  78. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 12th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Vern – I wrote a reply to your post, but it’s long enough that it’ll suffer from severe wall-of-text-itis if I post it here. So with apologies to the other guys, I’m gonna reply direct via e-mail on the subject of the fifties “Thing from Another World”.

  79. I enjoyed this movie. Yeah, it was a copy of a copy, but I love the Carpenter copy so much that even a degraded copy of that is still entertainment of the sort I enjoy enough to pay to see it all biggie sized and booming loud.

    @Mr. Majestyk

    Silent House is another copy, but I haven’t seen the original. It’s got some spooks, but the one tracking shot trick gets old, and I thought it cheaped out with the ending. The promo screening audience I saw it with wanted their money back.

    @Griff

    I saw a trailer recently for what looks like a straight up remake of Escape From NY, except the prison island is in space.

    Lock-Out Guy Pearce, Luc Besson. I’ll prolly watch it.

    http://youtu.be/kzKbNNIENQc

  80. Since we’ve already wasted so much space on the Norway/Sweden thing (not again!), here’s another little nugget; Kristoffer Hivju from The Thing (the one with the crazy red beard) is up against one of Sweden’s biggest stars, Mikael Persbrant, for the bad guy role in Die Hard 5. So I guess Bruce now will decide once and for all which country has the baddest dudes.

  81. If it was the old Bruce with an actual hairline, I might actually give a shit..

  82. That is his actual hairline. In the first DIE HARD, he was balding. Now he’s bald. It would be ridiculous to expect the character to have had his receding hairline stuck in the same place for 25 years. He’s not Nic Cage.

  83. *sigh* Just forget about the hairline remark,Majestyk.I probably shouldn´t have mentioned it in the first place. It´s not like it matters anyway. What does matter is my extremly low expectations of a new DIE HARD. I mean, there were hardly any characters from the first
    two movies in part 4 ,it did not feel like them so why bother calling it DIE HARD.

    Speaking of part 4. Last night I watched the first season pilot of JUSTIFIED. Damn! This is good. Great writing,seems to be even more interesting the more I get into it, so I look forward
    watching the rest on dvd, That kind of cowboy wild westshit “48 hours to get out of town” with resulting shootout is one of the best goddamn openings of any show I´ve seen.
    And Walton ” That dumbass Shane from THE SHIELD” Goggins in it? He is one of my favourite actors and having him and Olyphant butting heads is great!

    I like Elmore Leonards writing, although I ´ve never read the short stories on which this show is based on, but it feels like Leonard in the dialogue and character department.

    I don´t know why it took me so long to get my ass off the ground with this show, but I´m glad I did now.

    Looks like a fourth season has been greenlit. That is good news.

  84. Hey, no worries, Shoot. I figured you were probably joking but you never know. Some people take that hairline shit seriously and it kind of irritates me because it’s such a nothing reason to have a problem with a movie. But what do I know? DH4 remains one of my favorite action movies of the last decade so perhaps I’m biased.

  85. Ever since Bruce copied my hairstyle I’ve prefered the bald Willis over hairy Willis, and come on Shoot, you just know Die Hard 5 will rock!

  86. I watched The Thing 2011 last night. I logged on here to read Verns review and then post some thoughts.

    Then I spent twenty minutes reading these comments and googling shit about Norway and Sweden and I’ve completely forgot what I had to say.

    Thanks.

  87. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    March 15th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Fuck me, they’ve remade “Silent House” (I mention it here because I can’t get Potpourri to load, and someone mentioned it above). The Uraguayan original was on my “best” list from 2010. Very, very creepy movie. Haven’t got a clue what on earth they’re gonna make of it with the American remake, but I can’t imagine they’ll keep the ending intact. (Test audiences won’t “get it”. Yeah, I’m not giving you guys too much credit here, but we all know what happens when test audiences react to an “unusual” movie ending. Think “I am Legend”.)

    That said… the original is good AND unknown enough that this is one of the few films that might actually work as an American remake. I just hope they don’t wuss out on it. They’d better keep that shot with the shoe intact is all I’m saying. Because that creeped the hell outta me.

  88. I just noticed that Germans don’t have the name confusion between remake and prequel, because Carpenter’s version has a German title (“Das Ding aus einer anderen Welt”) while the prequel kept its original title. So nobody here is gonna confuse Das Ding with The Thing.

    (Although the 1950’s version is also called “Das Ding aus einer anderen Welt”, just like its remake…)

  89. One thing about the “original” 1981 THE THING that always bothered me was the scene at the end where the floorboards of the basement explode upward in a big wave as the monster comes rushing at McReady. Up until this point the monster has relied on stealth, trickery, being utterly disgusting and freaky, etc to survive and flourish, and suddenly it can pull off wrecking-ball-class moves? I preferred the sneaky alien making a hacked together flying saucer in the basement while everybody is running around scared shitless. I personally believe the movie would have been better without this scene – if the monster can demolish buildings with ease why didn’t it just smash all the humans to pieces? Maybe the Thing has to build up its strength by eating a few people first.

    Which brings me to THE THING 2011. The first Thing the Thing does is burst straight out of a huge block of ice and straight through the roof. It obviously already has a fully formed and quite functional body and it’s strong enough that it could (with a little patience and finesse) destroy the entire camp even against the humans armed with flamethrowers. Instead it goes through the whole charade of impersonating people, blah blah blah. This is the same criticism I have of the 1981 version but the flaw comes out right away. From then on out you’re left wondering why this Thing is pussy footing around.

    There is one memorable scene in the 2011 version where a half-assimilated person that is all mangled is chasing people around on two legs while its upper body is flailing around like a T1000 that has taken a grenade to the chest. The monster looks kind of like the Big Bad in HOWARD THE DUCK, actually. This recurring theme of a bloody gross monster that can bite you from any magically appearing orifice complete with teeth at a moment’s notice works okay for a while but eventually (around the time they are stuck in the spaceship / ice tunnels a la X-FILES THE MOVIE) it gets pretty tiresome. Yes, yes, bloody fanged remora sucker arms again. We saw that already. Sigh.

  90. rainman — seconded. And its a shame, because the paranoia parts are actually handled surprisingly well in the Premakquel. But then 3/4 in, they just give up and turn it into a big dumb dinosaur. Already lame, but it get abrasively lame when she lands inside the spaceship, and this morphing, human-impersonating T1000 suddenly CAN’T REACH HER IN A NARROW PASSAGE. WHICH IS ON HIS OWN FUCKING SHIP. Good thing the wires never burn out in the jeffreys tubes on his ship, because the big guy, despite being able to completely reshape his body at will, is totally unable to get in there.

    That’s just too god damn stupid to put up with.

    However. I do sort of have a kind of shameful appreciation for other aspects of the premakequel, particularly the last scene with Ramona Flowers. I think it has some admirably subtle parallels to our own paranoid post-9/11 world, where we’re always willing to burn people first and ask questions later. Dumb as the X-FILES MOVIE ripoff climax is, I appreciate the the whole movie ends on a quieter note.

  91. Y’know, after people told me since a year or so how awful the FX in this movie were, I was pleasantly surprised how good they actually were. Maybe they are more tolerable on a small (well…32″ LCD) TV than on the big screen, but I thought they looked actually most of the time pretty good.
    And I love the sound effects! I think this is the only part of the movie, that really is as good as Carpenter’s version. Yeah, and the test was cool. Having to look into each other’s mouth can be in such a movie a pretty tense moment and it worked.

    Apart from that? Seriously forgettable movie. Let’s move on.

  92. (Actually after watching a making of on YouTube, I have to say that the final CGI FX looked seriously better than the animatronics that they used on set.)

  93. I’m sure I’m not the only one who still wonders how a director, who even seems to be in his home country pretty unknown, got the job of directing a movie like this.

    Well, I think this classic music video, that he directed in 1995 or 96 had something to do with it. Or not. I don’t know. I just think it’s funny that the director of this, directed this.

    http://youtu.be/nmYi5u9BhtI

  94. So the guys who had their practical effects painted over with CGI for this movie are trying to make an entirely practical effects horror movie with Lance Henriksen. They have a Kickstarter page, seems like a worthy cause if only because it would be great to see Henriksen in at least one more watchable movie before he retires.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1117671683/harbinger-down-a-practical-creature-fx-film

  95. I just watched this tonight on basic cable and in between all the commercials I gotta say I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It was hard to tell everybody apart, but once you quit caring who everyone was, the tensions among the survivors were handled nicely.

    The set-up was shit though. You could sympathize with the guys in the 1980 movie. They were living with the consequences of someone else’s bad mistakes. By the time they figured out what was going on, the situation was totally out of control. These Norwegians invite a very scary frozen alien into their home and heat it up. That’s stupidity on the level of a Friday the 13th teenager.

  96. Just re-watched this in the spirit of Halloween and also of trying to give films I don’t like a second chance. Unfortunately I didn’t like it any better the second time around but it did make me realise that 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE wasn’t the first example in cinematic history of Mary Elizabeth Winstead throwing a molotov cocktail into an alien’s asshole. So I would definitely not chalk the experience up as a total waste of time.

  97. Just re-watched this in the spirit of Halloween and also in the spirit of trying to give films I fucking hated a second chance. Unfortunately I didn’t like it any better the second time around but it did make me realise that 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE wasn’t the first example in cinematic history of Mary Elizabeth Winstead throwing a molotov cocktail into an alien’s asshole causing it to explode. So I would definitely not chalk the experience up as a total waste of time.

  98. I have no idea why that posted twice. Sorry all.

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