Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Thing vs. The Thing - 2011 vs 1982 (Mild Spoilers)

Is The Thing (2011) a worthy prequel to the 1982 The Thing and is it a movie that will potentially kick off the franchise into the next decade? Well, I am not so sure about that....

Mild Spoilers with heavier spoilers marked toward the end....

Okay, the movie The Thing that came out Friday is a new movie which is a prequel to the 1982 version of The Thing which is a remake of the 1951 The Thing which is based on the story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Cambell Jr. - got that?

I am a big fan of John Carpenter's 1982 version of The Thing and was lucky enough to see the film on the big screen for the first time a day before the release of the 2011 version. I had only seen the film on TV and home video but seeing it on the big screen (Blu-Ray) I appreciate it even more. It also gives me a chance to compare and contrast these two movies as they are both fresh in my mind.

It is 1982 and a discovery by a Norwegian base leads paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to the Antarctica to assist with the dig. A massive craft is found in buried in the ice and some life form found a short distance away. The scientists bring the fossil back to their base but it is not dead. The life form attacks the base members and attempts to copy them. The alien, when in contact with humans or other life forms, begins a mutation where it forms into an exact copy. If you have seen the 1982 The Thing then you know all this.

Kate quickly identifies the problem and attempts to convince the others that this “virus” should not be allowed to get to populated areas and that one or more of them may already be copies. All hell breaks loose leading to an ending and story connection to the 1982 version.

First off let me say that the prequel links up virtually seamlessly to the original. Sets, scenes and characters are all perfectly matched up. In the 1982 version a dog, chased by a helicopter winds up at an American base. The pilot and passenger are killed while trying to shoot the dog. We find out soon enough that the dog is more than it appears. A trip to the Norwegian base finds everyone dead and the remains of a burnt creature. They bring it back to the base and the rest is history.

I was surprised at how well these two films do link up with only a few minor exceptions including the filming of the explosion over the saucer and standing around the craft.

Well, apart from that link, what about the film itself? Well, one of my main concerns was going to be the special effects. The CG fest for the most part was just fine. None of the effects blew me away as the 1982 mechanical and prosthetic effects did. Still, they stayed true to The Thing concept and design.

What was so powerful in the 1982 version was the suspense and build up of tension created by the paranoia of the characters as they try to stay alive and figure out who the Thing might be. The mood of that movie is amazing from the spooky dog acting (That dog didn't seem real as it quietly moved around the base) to the cold alone setting of the base. The music, by Ennio Morricone, set the mood even further, all pushing this film into the realm of all time classic.

The 2011 version lacked much of this. The only tension was created when the viewer waited for the Thing to crash through the wall or ice. In a way, this prequel reminded me of Aliens. The first Alien movie was moody and scary as all hell. Aliens had scares but was mostly amped up action. One can compliment The Thing 2011 by saying it is like Aliens. I am not sure it was as good as Aliens though. For the first hour I was really into this film but when it did turn to straight action and mayhem and explosions, it sort of lost my attention. Again, I had seen Ripley go down to the Alien Hive and now we see Kate Lloyd doing the same thing of sorts.

Still, I found the film mostly enjoyable but just not in the same level as the 1982 version. It took the concept and ideas and performed well with them but by no means did it manage to approach the level of quality as the 82 version.

I hope the film does well. For a new audience, it should serve just fine as a thriller sci-fi horror movie. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was the stand out performance and she handled the part well.

As a side note, I had a discussion about the film afterward and someone asked what happens to Kate Lloyd at the end of the film                              


She survives and is sitting in an Arctic CAT but does she know how to get to the Russian base 50 miles away (It was mentioned that this is where they should go at one point). She is not around when Macready and his people show up so one has to assume she headed off to the base. Once there she would not be able to contact anyone because of the snow storms that plagued the American base as seen in the 82 movie. I thought wouldn't it be great to see a sequel where Lloyd meets up with Macready and Childs (the survivors of the American base) and fight the Thing again?


  1. About Kate going to the Russian camp....I believe she ends up going to the American camp because Child says he thought he saw someone (Blair) out in the snow when Macready asks "where were you Childs" That would also connect both movies since we know Kate survives at the end and is at the site of the crash. Could be that she spots Macready & the crew at the saucer and attempts to follow them back to the American camp by following the direction of the chopper. Would set up a great sequel

  2. That is a very good link for the sequel. It is assumed that the mystery people we saw walking outside of camp were one of the Things or Childs, etc but perhaps it was Kate keeping an eye on things.

  3. I would also like to think that Kate follows Macready back to the American base and links up with him and Childs as they sit together at the end of the 82 movie. It would make a great story line for a sequel, and personally, I'd like to see it. I know Kurt Russell did amazing as Macready; even if he's not in a sequel where this story plays out, it would be a great finish to a timeless story. Everybody wants to know what happens to Macready, Childs, and Lloyd.

  4. I would love to find out what happened to Macready and childs! Lloyd wouldn't be there because she wasn't in a thing movie. She was in a shameless cash in - a pathetic attempt at making her lack luster acting career improve. Oh, after her performance in scott pilgrim vs the world, she SURE WAS READY for a serious movie like this........ Give me a break. Kermit the frog would be better to show up.

  5. I'm not sure if it counts as canon, but if you play the video game for "The Thing" that came out a few years back, we find out that Childs didn't actually survive, but Macready indeed did. But a sequel involving Winstead would be interesting. And if they work Kate's character into the story for the game (which is interesting and could work as a movie, even though its rather generic at times. "Evil corporation seeks to exploit it as a weapon.")then there's honestly an awful lot of directions they could go if they wanted to.

  6. I think there might be a 3rd installment on this movie..bassed on the premise of paranoia.. it would be perfect. The only characters from both movies i can say with absolute certainty that are still 100% human are Lars the norwegian pilot, Colin, Clark and Childs ( hmm 3 C's) The 1st four are 100% dead, The pilot because he blew up , Lars because Garry shot him Colin because he preferred being dead then being assilated. and Clarke because... well Macready killed him. They died before they were absorbed. And if you want to know how i know for sure that Childs is still unabsorbed. Its right there at the very last scene that we are clued in, based on how Kate conducts her tests. You have to watch closely at Childs last scene. Im not so so sure about Mac, but i would say so based on the blood heat test. Kate I am not so sure about, after all she apparently fell a long way and appeared to be coming to alertness, how do we know for sure that she wasn't replicated during that time and that Carter wasn't really human (another C) and that his earring wasn't dislodged in the battle with the Sanders thing (something that he has in common with Fuchs if he did indeed remain human assuming it was really Fuchs remains we were shown). It could very well be Kate that Childs sees (he THINKS he saw Blair in the storm). It could possibly be either Kate or the Kate thing, Griggs Olav and/or a Fuchs thing, A revived Edvard/Adam thing (since even crisped it remains alive and viable on a cellular level), Julliet, Karl, Jonas, Henrig, and Sanders. Kate seems unsure which diection the russian Camp might lay and could have very well ended up at the amercan camp Ince she wasn't sitting in the snow cat the next morning when Mac w and Copper would have arrived. Or she Mac and Childs simply all froze to death and are found by an ailing Bishop since he seems to be in antatica around the same time. Personally I think we should just let it be..rather thencontinue to ramp up the paranoia further

  7. I rather go with the John Carpenter's 1982 Version of 'THE THING.' And I really think all other movie directors should get thousands of different Special Make-Up Effects Artists to make twenty-nine new 'The Thing' Sequels. They should hire good actors who can do the lots of creepy monster morphing transformation scenes.