Last year marked a milestone for horror fans everywhere as John Carpenter’s “The THING” got a lot of attention. The film takes us on a journey to Outpost 31 in Antarctica, where an alien life form takes on the shape of anyone it kills. Last year the film is received not only a prequel, but two houses at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, one in Orlando, one in Hollywood. For the next seven days we’re going to take a look at not only the John Carpenter film, but also everyTHING that has inspired it and was inspired by that film. In other words…Now I’m going to show you what I already know.
Day 7-The THING Prequel
It’s been a long hard winter. I was eagerly anticipating seeing this film last year more than any other film, and I missed it. A hectic haunt season, combined with poor reviews and dismal box office results, and my most anticipated film of 2011 gets pushed back to 2012. Seems like an ongoing theme with this film, which is now out on DVD and Blu-Ray (click here to purchase!)
Based on the original story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, the film tells the story that we see glimpses of in the John Carpenter film from 1982 of the same name. In fact, the film takes place in 82 at the Thule Research Center that we see from the first film.
The film had a long road to the silver screen with several re-writes and budget reductions. The film started out as a remake, but when the director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., a huge fan of the John Carpenter film, saw it during his search for a new film he practically begged the studio to let him do the film. “Remaking Carpenter’s film would be like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa” he said.
The story seemed to already be there for the making. It existed as a ghost in John Carpenter’s movie, you knew it was there, but you didn’t know what had happened or who was involved. All you knew is that the beginning of John Carpenter’s THING, a crazy Norwegian flying in a helicopter tries to kill a dog he’s chasing.
So it was the filmmakers job to flesh out those ghosts, bring them back to life long enough to tell their story.
The story we get is of the discovery of the THING. We get a glimpse of where it came from, who it actually is. We also get a sense of wonder that was missing from the first film. Most importantly we get Mary Elizabeth Winstead, a paleontologist from America brought into study a find so secret that the millionaire owner of the research outpost won’t tell her what she’s going to study.
She is then faced with a choice. Trust her instincts and stay…or…go and tempt fate, try her luck as it were. Of course she goes, and Lady Luck is put into motion.
The film itself lacks a few things that made Carpenter’s film a classic. The first thing is the sense of foreboding. Not really the filmmakers fault, we all know what’s going to happen, and we all know how this film BETTER end. The second is the sense of claustrophobia from being trapped in a bitter wasteland. We get the impression that this Antarctica isn’t so bad. The final thing the film suffers from is the CGI effects. Practical effects made the Carpenter film amazing. In this film, tentacles flail around and act as if they have a mind of their own.
Still, the film is fun. It captures the ghosts of Carpenter’s film perfectly. We knew what was going to happen, and we knew how it should end.
Still, critics lambasted it and audiences expected something the film could not be. Fans wanted something of a rebirth of Carpenter. They weren’t going to get it, the story just wouldn’t support it. The film did terrible at the box office, sadly, and people missed the point. The good news is, so did people who saw the first film. Carpenter’s The Thing was considered a failure, and people thought it was too gross. Perhaps in time people will come to love this film as it has made it’s way to DVD and Blu-Ray (click here to purchase!)
I hope this THING finds it’s way into your heart…and lungs…and skin…and brain.
As for the comparison to the Halloween Horror Nights House, the house nailed the movie perfectly. Watching the film only brought back great scream filled memories of HHN 21. The creative team at Universal Orlando did an amazing job bringing it from the screen to real life. In fact if you are wondering what happens to one of the characters,the hhn house gives you a glimpse the movie does not.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering how the film ends…..
A crazy Norwegian chases a dog in a helicopter….the way it’s supposed to. For that, the film takes it’s place on my shelf where it belongs.