I’ve been intrigued by the idea of this film for a while – it’s a risky idea, but then this does seem to be the era for receiving unexpected sequels/prequels to Eighties films that flopped on release, but built up a major cult reputation in the years that follow. It counts for Tron – but John Carpenter’s version of The Thing is a different kettle of fish, a film that isn’t just remembered well out of nostalgic affection but is a genuinely brilliant, savagely nasty piece of horror filmmaking that was simply not released at the right time. It’s still an amazing piece of work – tense, dark and claustrophobic, and what’s really impressive is exactly how well the truly insane creature effects have stood the test of time, simply thanks to the demented imagination of chief make-up effects guy Rob Bottin. Attempting to even equal that, let alone better it, takes a hell of a lot of nerve – and what we’ve ended up with the 2011 incarnation of The Thing is a rather odd example of a prequel that essentially looks to be a loose remake (in the way that most horror sequels were, back in the Eighties) but which does fit into the timeline of the earlier film, essentially showing us what happened at the Norwegian base where the shape-changing alien monstrosity was first uncovered.
Of course, just to make this even weirder, this means that in certain ways, this’ll actually be closer (at least in its opening sections) to the 1950s original The Thing from Another World, which the Carpenter film itself was a remake of. And, just to make things extra-confusing, they’re basically selling it as a remake and calling it The Thing. Considering it’s a story about an alien that turns itself into what it consumes, all this duplication is probably fitting – the trailer is not bad, and certainly makes clear that they’ve at least well-cast the film, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead looking like a good choice for the lead, and Joel Edgerton being the sort of excellent and rugged-looking character actor that John Carpenter would have stuck in a film back in the Eighties. The screenplay is from Battlestar Galactica mastermind Ronald D. Moore, so there’s at least a good chance that this will be a respectful attempt to measure up to the 1982 original. For fans of the Carpenter film, there’s of course the danger that this could end up as a carbon copy – certain shots in the trailer are note-for-note duplicates of shots from the 1982 original – and the real test is going to be the creature effects, which they’ve sensibly kept under wraps in this trailer. At the least, this could be a fun bit of pastiche that’s actually attempting to capture what made the original great (unlike the Assault on Precinct 13 remake, which completely missed the point), and again it’s amazing to see another under-appreciated gem from my childhood getting a multi-million dollar remake/follow-up. However, it’s going to have to have a lot more than funky visuals, and if it’s a missed opportunity I don’t think anyone’s going to be as forgiving as they were with the fun but deeply flawed Tron: Legacy…
One thought on “Movie Trailer: The Thing (2011)”
Love the vibe, but there’s not a second of that trailer that isn’t trading mercilessly on Carpenter’s movie. Definitely looks more like a remake than a prequel, even if they are dancing on the head of a pin about it.