In 1951, a sci-fi horror film called, “The Thing From Another World” loosely based on novel titled “Who Goes There?,” opened in theaters and made money at the box office and earned decent reviews from critics.
Three Decades Later, filmmaker, John Carpenter (Halloween, Escape From New York, Big Trouble In Little China) fresh from his successful Halloween film, proposed to develop a remake of The Thing From Another World staying true to the novel’s source material. He had to postpone in favor of working with Kurt Russell in Escape From New York. After a long delay, John reworked on his pet project reuniting with Kurt as the main lead.
John Carpenter’s The Thing was released in 1982. (same year Blade Runner came out) At the time of its release, critics disliked it. Despite negative reception, The remake was a modest success at the box office.
Overtime, the film became a cult classic on home video earning critical acclaim in later years labeled as a groundbreaking masterpiece inspiring many filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Edgar Wright, J.J. Abrams & Guillermo Del Toro listed The Thing as a key influence. Quentin credited The Thing for inspiring his eighth movie, The Hateful Eight. Both films are set in the winter, Kurt Russell stars in them & Ennio Morricone orchestrated them, he later won an Oscar for scoring The Hateful Eight.
The Thing spawned a franchise consisting a comic book mini-series, board games, haunted house, a video game for the PlayStation 2 and a 2011 prequel film titled “The Thing.” Why didn’t Hollywood come up with a colon and title cemented as “The Beginning” or “The Prologue.” Perhaps lazy writing? I have no clue.
Now that John Carpenter’s original Halloween film has a sequel slated for an October release set after the events of the first film. I’ve decided to spread positive word-of-mouth before Halloween 2018 comes out in October 19, 2018. That’s actually the title of the sequel instead of calling it “Halloween: The Reunion.” I’m also gearing up for next year, because Kurt Russell is gonna work with Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.”
The following review contains no pivotal SPOILERS whatsoever. If you’ve never ever ever seen John Carpenter’s remake, feel free to read this non-spoiler article. Does The Thing still holds up to this day? Well let’s find out shall we?
Clean & Messy Elements
Clean: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David & the rest of the cast all did an outstanding job for their respective performances.
Fun Fact: Before Kurt Russell won the lead role, other actors such as Jeff Bridges, Nick Nolte & Christopher Walken were considered to portray R.J. MacReady.
John Carpenter did a fantastic job for directing the remake. He took many ingredients from the novel to craft a perfectly balanced meal.
Scare Factor never shoved way to many jump scares in my face. The real fear is in fact, the lead characters feeling paranoid as the creature blends in as one of them. How would you feel if you or your loved ones/friends get roped into a nightmare you’ll never wake up?
Unlike E.T.’s lighthearted tone, The Thing is a cold, sardonic take on an alien murdering his targets one by one, instead of bonding like a human and his/her pet.
Practical Effects were heavily used to bring the titular character to life alongside its shapeshifting abilities drawing elements of animatronics, squibs, food, rubber, puppets, inflatable tubes among many other resources.
Besides the monster, pyrotechnics made sure nobody got burned alive under professional supervision. I’m utterly shocked that the special effects still hold up to this day. I’m giving the effects team a truckload of Bonus Points! Hear me out guys and gals, this was way before C.G.I. existed! That took a lot of effort!
In order to give the actors a cold creepy atmosphere, John and the crew actually took them to real life locations located in Alaska, rather than filming at a studio. You can really tell that the cast were really freezing their butts off in a cold environment. Even the Set Pieces made them feel claustrophobic.
The story is set in 1982 during Winter. It’s forgivable to view it as a period film, rather than an outdated. The 2011 prequel is set around the same year as the former.
Primary Themes are Paranoia, Trust & Betrayal involving the crew suffering from moral dilemma.
Opening Scene sets up the atmosphere lacking John Williams’ sentimental score in favor of Ennio Morricone’s creepy tone.
Kurt Russell’s character, R.J. MacReady, establishes his personality when he plays chess on a computer. His scene foreshadows he’s not gonna loose nor willing to let anybody betray him. His last name is meaningful, indicating he’s ready to face impending danger.
If you’re a huge fan of the Fallout video game series like me, a character named MacReady (who appears in Fallout 3 & 4) is named after the main protagonist.
Ennio Morricone (The Dollars Trilogy, Once Upon A Time In The West, The Hateful Eight) orchestrated music for the movie. By the way, Quentin Tarantino used Ennio’s rejected original score for The Hateful Eight.
Cinematography looked spot on flawless without suffering from technical difficulties.
Death Scenes are gory with each character ending up in a sticky situation. If you have a weak stomach, be prepared, because it’s gonna make you sick. If I were you, don’t eat before you watch. Otherwise you’ll barf way outta control.
You can rewatch the film to see which crew member the monster is mimicking.
Messy: To be honest, I couldn’t find nothing wrong with this remake. I’m giving John & the rest of the cast an Extra Point for taking a huge risk by making this film as flawless as possible.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
The Thing is a sci-fi horror mystery thriller masterpiece impossible to hate among John Carpenter’s signature works including Halloween, Escape From New York & Big Trouble In Little China. If it weren’t for The Thing, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight would’ve never existed! Today’s filmmakers cite The Thing as an inspiration for their careers. If you’re interested or have never seen the remake, I strongly recommend it. Don’t forget to buy it on Blu-Ray/DVD to hear director’s commentary.
John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of the best remakes of all time next to The Fly, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Ocean’s Eleven, 3:10 To Yuma, True Grit & Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born.