The Thing (2011): A Bomb in the Making, We Think Not

The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011)

Every fan of movies, but most particularly those in horror, are very wary when studios fuck with film classics. The worst are remakes followed close behind by sequels, prequels and re-imaginings. For every Godfather II, Aliens or Casino Royale, there are literally hundreds of bombs that piss you off to no end especially when you know these films are what will be watched by the young to a greater extent than the originals.

This October (2011), Universal Pictures is set to release a prequel to one of John Carpenter’s greatest films The Thing. It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Ulrich Thomsen and is directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. A few months ago we first mentioned The Thing prequel here at Yell! Magazine and at the time it had a release date at the end of April. Now that April is in the history books, we thought we’d revisit the movie and write a little more in-depth about it.

The Thing (2011): Mary Elizabeth Winstead

The Thing (2011): Mary Elizabeth Winstead

For those of you who haven’t seen the original, I suggest you take the time to watch it otherwise you may become lost in the following paragraphs. But since you’re here reading about a prequel, I must assume most of you have done so already and therefore I will continue.

When Carpenter directed the original he left a few mysteries behind pertaining to what happened before the American research team arrived in the Antarctic. During the course of the movie, we began to understand that a Norwegian team had been on the frozen continent previously and some bad shit happened to them. We concluded, without much difficulty, that the cause of their misfortune was the alien presently reeking havoc on MacReady (Kurt Russell) and his team. But we never did learn the exact circumstances of what came before.

The Thing (2011): Eric Christian Olsen

The Thing (2011): Eric Christian Olsen

What had happened to the dead guy with the slit throat near the crash site of the alien aircraft? What about the helicopter chase after the dog, who was the pilot that blew himself up with a grenade, and who was the crazed lunatic shooting at the husky? These questions, and others always pricked at the minds of viewers. It seemed that Carpenter left the story open enough that a prequel would not be an impossibility.

And here is where the pertinent question lies. Are these unanswered questions a good enough reason to revisit the classic ’80s film? In a perfect world, Carpenter would be directing this film and the question would be moot. But since that isn’t happening, we must hope that the producers stick as close to the timeline and events created in the original as possible. Otherwise, the film will be moronic. As you have read in our previous article this seems to be the case.

Thing (2011) Prequel

Will The Thing prequel be bomb like so many other second films of an original classic? If we are to guess our answer is no. If it does nothing more than to explain what went on before, then it’s a worthy endeavor. But whether it lives to stand up next to the original is another question. If the film isn’t pushed back again to a later release date, we’ll see in October.

The Thing (2011) Review

The Thing (2011) Review

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  • Dillinger23

    I’m sorry but this article is utter rubbish. There were no questions that ‘pricked at the mind of the viewer’. Leaving aside the fact that ‘viewer’ is a television term, in film we are very much ‘the audience’, the information we had was more than sufficient for the story at hand. They came to camp trying to kill a dog and then blew themselves up, that was a mystery, but that mystery was answered when they visited the camp, found the ship, and removed what was to become more alien (a half transformed torso). There is nothing more (at least nothing necessary) to say about those events. But my real ire is reserved for the fatuous statement ‘Carpenter left plenty of room for a prequel….’. NO ONE LEAVES ROOM FOR A PREQUEL!!!!!!!!!!!!! A prequel is except on very rare occassions simply a device for milking a cash cow further from an established fictional universe (né franchise). I can only hope that the forthcoming Alien prequel (Prometheus) bucks this trend, and is there is a certain wondrous poetry deriving from Scott now in the twilight of his career (I say that with hope that he continues making movies for years to come, but he is no spring lamb) revisiting the Universe that arguably cemented his career during its infancy.

    • Wow, someone considers themselves a cinephile. Note that the rubbish doesn’t say that Carpenter left room for a prequel, but that  “It SEEMED that Carpenter left the story open enough that a prequel would not be an impossibility.” No one here has said that this was his intent, but that it happened.

      • Dillinger23

        Did you even read what you wrote here? “It SEEMED that Carpenter left the story open enough that a prequel would
        not be an impossibility.” No one here has said that this was his
        intent, but that it happened”………… Read your own words, IT SEEMED THAT……… CARPENTER LEFT THE STORY OPEN ENOUGH…….”      Sorry fella, but that does indeed imply intent.

  • Dillinger23

    Please! that’s pure semantics and you know it. To claim “he left space”, or that “it seemed he left space”, is effectively the same thing and the difference between the two is negligible at best. And yes I do consider myself a cinephile and will gladly go toe to toe with anyone anywhere on movie trivia and critical theory. Bring it on be-atch! :o)

    • KH here… Personally, I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter’s The Things, I re-watch it almost every year. I like everything about it, the acting, the sound design, direction, and of course the special effects.  I was always intrigue by the Norwegians, and their camp (I felt that was one of the creepiest parts in the film). I wanted to know more about the events that led up to the point where they blew themselves up. How shit all went down when they themselves first discovered the alien. Only hints where introduced in the 1982 version when MacReady discovered a video blog, and so on . Sure, we all know the alien escaped in a dog form and two Norwegians where killed in the process of trying to kill it. Ya, the Norwegian camp also answered the fact they discovered an alien form that was frozen, and reaked havoc after it was unthawed. That’s it!!! There is definitely space left “intentionally” or “not” to make a prequel to develop a full story behind all that my friend. Maybe you aren’t interested in it, but some die hard fans are. We aren’t trying to say John Carpenter left room intentionally, “IT SEEMED…”, and sorry if it sounds like that to you.

      Definition for SEEMED: To appear to exist.

      Either way, I really enjoyed the prequel even if it was too similar to John Carpenter’s, and if you have a second, or third watch. You will find some excellent detail that I missed when I first viewed it. The new director tried his best to make a prequel that could cather to both the fans of Carpenter’s version, and new ones. It’s not perfect, but it is what it is now.

      You claim to be cinephile, but you still think Prometheus is a prequel to Alien. Now that’s funny! When was the last time you read news about it? It will have strands of DNA to Alien, but not a prequel.


      • Dillinger23

        dude it will have more than strands, they have lovingly recreated in exact detail the space jockey  control room, and whilst not a prequel in the strictest sense (although it was planned as such), it has now been expanded to take in a larger universe, of which the Space Jockey’s race and the Aliens will be central, but not limited to. My friend, I am a MASSIVE fan of the original (well 80s) Carpenter version, and to be honest, I do not think the new film does it justice, it’s Ripley (from Alien ironically enough) vs. a monster FAR too ready to reveal itself to witnesses, which I think is the major shortcoming of the film, I briefly for a few years owned a small independent cinema for 58 seats and the first midnight showing I had?? Carpenter’s the Thing. Also I would suggest you do as I did last weekend which is watch both films in but in reverse order. watch the prequel first and THEN watch the Carpenter original, and it truly ahows up the 2011 film for the very very pale immitation that it is, trust me on this one. watch them back to back, and there is simply no contest. I for one greatly mourn the passing of real effects in the age of CGI. The other day I watched Poltergeist for the first time in HD, and I was watching the effects for the scene where the invesigator tears chunks of his face of in front of the mirror, i was struck y the fact that even though, the efects were obviously fake, they were still far more scary and horrific than hyper-real CGI.

      • MotMandrake

        I have had the misfortune of watching this tripe twice and I can tell you it was even worse the second time and I believe I would hurt people if I had to watch it a third time. The fact that you are a fan of JC version makes it even sadder that you liked this bollocks premake.

  • Pintlasher

    I can’t believe what all the critics say. I watched the film. Went online to see if I could get more info on the story and how it ties into the 80’s movie and what did I find? That most of the tasteless ‘critics’ out there gave this an average of between 30 and 45 out of a hundred! This movie is a great ride and in my opinion it definitely does the 80’s movie justice. If you want 2 hours of good atmosphere, great acting, excellent story and very nice special effects then look no further than this movie. If you ever wondered how the hell did all this happen? when you watched the original then watch it. If you like sci-fi or horror… watch it. Forget about what all these dumb and completely tasteless “movie critics” are saying about it. Seriously can’t believe how low this got rated when it is, in actual fact, an absolute gem.

    • KH here… I completely agree!!! I ended up re-watching it, and find myself appreciating a lot more, and the details are quite outstanding (didn’t spot them all at first).  Blu-ray is expected to come out this month, and I’m definitely considering to buy it. Thanks for the comment, later

    • Horror Fan

      I’m actually ‘not’ all that surprised that it didn’t rate well by critics, because neither did The Thing (1982) in fact it bombed.  It was only later that it became a cult classic and gained the respect it deserved.  The fact that ANY movie in the god-awful ‘Twilight’ series got significantly better critic ratings than the movies I actually enjoyed, is very telling to me about ‘professional’ opinions. :p

      So saying, I loved both The Thing (1982) and The Thing (2011) and in the end that’s all that really matters.   If you yourself enjoyed it, because someone else’s opinion doesn’t effect your viewing enjoyment.   A lot of the best rated movies by reviewers are ones I watch out of curiosity and wind up not caring for all that well (not ALL, some of them are pretty good, but the vast majority are rather ‘meh’), while movies like The Thing (2011) I love, when I’m being told ‘don’t watch this, it sucks’   So I’ve stopped believing the brick bats and just trust myself instead.

  • Horror Fan

    I’m not elitist about movies, certainly not horror movies, of which I’ve found most newer ones aren’t that scary, or they try to drop in a last minute ‘twist’ that’s really disappointing.  That being said,  I try to give new horror movies a chance to shine beyond the gore fests that are The Saw series and other titles such as Hostel.   This is just my opinion of course, but those aren’t horror movies to me, they’re just gore.  They lack memorable characters that we can connect with, they lack a sense of the unknown that has always been one of the scariest real life matters that we’re faced with (again, in my opinion) and they never stay with you much past the credits.

    The Thing stayed with me, it haunted me after I left the theatre.   Not knowing what to expect going in, I watched Carpenter’s movie the night before I went to see this (I’d seen it plenty of times before but hadn’t watched in a good three years or more) . . . and I was absolutely amazed at the attention to detail in the 2011 movie.  It’s clear, to me, that it was made by individuals that not only like The Thing (1982) but those people who cherished it and wanted to both make a good prequel and pay homage to Carpenter’s vision.

    The tense atmosphere built steadily and left me with a profound sense of foreboding, made even worse because having watched Carpenter’s movie, I knew all those people were going to die.   It was well acted, scripted and the effects showed both the improvement available with today’s special effects technology, while paying tribute to the original ‘Thing’ designs.   We still are left unsure what it actually would’ve looked like on its own, even in the block of ice all we see is mass and some texture, and the mystery of where it came from is no more revealed in 2011 than it was in 1982.  It came from space, and that’s all we can guess.

    The leading lady was left in a similar place as Kurt Russell, only without another human with her, but sitting in the desolation of Antarctica, still unsure if ‘it’ was dead yet.  The scene of the two men in the chopper chasing the dog was added in throughout the credits, and made my skin tingle in anticipation.  I immediately wanted to go home and watch The Thing (1982) again.

    I’ve read reviews both ‘professional’ and those of average Joe, and while I appreciate that not everyone likes the same kind of moviea, I LOVED this, in a way that I haven’t loved a horror movie in a very long time.   It was more than I expected, and also managed to still make me jump in my seat.  The Thing (2011) seems to remember what horror movies are suppose to be, and watching both films together is a great experience.

  • BrownAnus

    The Thing 2011 sucked hard. Thank goodness I had the sense to fast forward a bit and then turn off video play.