Friday FabOoolousness: The Fear of the Unknown

Catie Rhodes and I are back with our new blog collaborative series where we each review an original movie and it’s more recent remake.  This month, we discuss the psychological horror film/s, The Thing.

Despite the fact that Catie agreed to review the 1982 film version of The Thing starring Kurt Russell, I scheduled the DVR to record it and watched it as well.  What better research for my blog post than to watch both films practically back-to-back, right?

For an early ‘80s film, The Thing is really terrifying.  I had seen it before, but still managed to jump in my seat on multiple occasions and cringe at some of the special effects — not because they were outdated, but because they were so well done and gory beyond belief.

The 1982 movie poster

After reading Catie’s post, I knew exactly why I was so impressed: The Thing was directed by none other than John Carpenter himself.  I may not be a “Level 3 Nerd” fan like she is, but I too believe the man is genius and knows horror (I am a big fan of Halloween; thank you, Mr. Carpenter).

I am also glad Catie mentioned the hotness of Kurt Russell.  Even with a full-on beard, the man had it going on in The Thing.  And if we’re being honest here, the main reason why I wanted to review the 2011 remake of The Thing is because of another cutie on my radar – Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: LA).

He's not a bad reason to watch a movie, right?

So I keep saying remake, but this is not correct.  I had heard in passing that the 2011 film was actually a prequel to the 1982 movie, but like usual decided that I must first see it to believe it.

It is.

Based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, writer Eric Heisserer begins the story with the Norwegian and American scientists who discover The Thing.  Not only do they discover the alien life form, but they also find its spaceship buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice.    The Norwegians contact a doctor (Ulrich Thomsen) about the discovery and he immediately makes plans to travel to the base.  But he first needs someone to assist with the dig.

The doctor remains hush-hush about the find when he hires a paleontologist to assist him (Kate, played by Mary Elizabeth Winsted).  Together with the doctor’s assistant (Olsen), the three travel to the Antarctic not knowing what BIG discovery they will unearth.  It doesn’t take long for their eyes to bug out in disbelief when they see firsthand what they are dealing with.

Kate immediately gets to work, and with help from the scientists removes a large chunk of ice surrounding the alien.  They return The Thing to the Norwegian base and the Mister-Know-It-All-Doctor demands a tissue sample from The Thing, even though Kate highly recommends against it.

The group later gathers in the common area and celebrates the find – they will forever be associated with the team that captured the first alien life form known to man.  While they party, the alien breaks through the ice and escapes.

Or does it?

Burn it! Burn it!

After capturing and burning the alien life form, Kate learns from a tissue sample that the creature’s cells have yet to die.  Instead, these cells have the ability to imitate another’s cells perfectly: a human’s cells.

Much like the original film, panic and mass paranoia spreads across the camp like a wildfire in hot, dry, and windy conditions.  The search for The Thing yields many dead bodies (and a dog, which I could have done without).  But luckily for the group, Kate discovers a crucial tell-tale sign about The Thing — when it imitates a life form, it cannot absorb any metal — therefore no dental fillings, no earrings, and no metal rods replacing bones from previous surgeries will absorb in the mutation.  Knowing this will later prove to save her life.

I'd be looking behind my shoulder too...

The 2011 movie ends just as the 1982 movie begins.  The transition was very well done, even matching the music and the burned Norwegian camp with the dead body inside (the man slit his throat rather than die at the hands of The Thing).  The film also answers how The Thing escapes camp to continue its slaughter of human lives after MacReady (Russell) arrives – the alien is the dog (again with the poor dog).

Unlike the 1982 movie, the prequel (ha, notice I didn’t say remake this time) didn’t get great overall reviews.  But it’s really not that bad.  I particularly liked the fact that one doesn’t have to watch the films sequentially in order to understand what’s going on.  I also applaud the fact that even though the 2011 film is a prequel to the 1982 version, they didn’t take us back in time with ‘80s clothes and other retro images.  Or if they did, it wasn’t distracting.  It’s not that I have anything against the ‘80s (I’m actually a proud child of the ‘80s), but sometimes the effort to create a certain time period takes away from the rest of the story.

Having watched both films, and truly knowing what to expect, I still jumped in my seat…on multiple occasions.  I even looked away at times.  That to me is good horror.

What do you think?  Have you seen either the 1982 or the 2011 The Thing?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

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11 Responses to Friday FabOoolousness: The Fear of the Unknown

  1. Pingback: The Thing 1982 | Catie Rhodes

  2. Catie Rhodes says:

    I love this review. You’ve given just enough info to get me interested in seeing the film. That John Carpenter did this film goes a long way toward selling me. He has such an interesting vision.

    Having fun doing this series. We need to decide on next month’s movie. 😀

  3. tomwisk says:

    I like the original 1951 version with James Arness as the Thing. The remakes, I think, were remade as vehicles for the star du jour. About the only remake that caught me was the TV remake of The Shining. Thoughh you and Catie make some great points for the remakes, I’ll still stick with the original. Write it off to sitting through Saturday matinees in a theater with a hundred or so kids amped up on cheap soda and candy looking for an afternoon’s escape.

  4. So what order do you think would be best to watch them in–1982 version first because it’s oldest, or “remake” first because it’s technically a prequel?

  5. donnagalanti says:

    Loved the 1982 one – scary stuff and Russell is HOT (or was:) but now want to watch this one too! Thanks Tiffany

  6. Stacy Green says:

    All right then. I didn’t realize this was in fact a prequel, so I wil probably see it. The 1982 one was so good I just couldn’t imagine a remake but this sounds worth watching. Great review!

  7. Donna Newton says:

    Oh, i haven’t seen ‘The Thing’ in years. Is it where an aliens pops out of someones belly? Or is that Alien? Either way, hubby will want to see the new film so I will suggest we watch the original (which he calls a classic), this weekend.

  8. Pingback: Blog Treasures 3-10 | Gene Lempp's Blog

  9. Julie Glover says:

    There’s a 1951 version? Maybe I could stomach that one! 😉 Good review, Tiffany. I was shuddering at the preview, though, so I probably couldn’t take two hours of it. It’s always the gore of these films that gets me. I do creepy and suspense quite well.

  10. I love watching original movies and then watching the remakes to see what is different, what is the same and to see how the characters are portrayed.
    John Carpenter rules….
    Love this post!

  11. Pingback: Tall Tale Tuesday: Mother Nature « Ellie Ann

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