Monday, May 14, 2012

The Thing (1982) and (2011)

The idea started brewing last Halloween, when my daughter and I attended Universal's Halloween Horror Nights.  One of the "haunted houses" that they featured was based on the new movie "The Thing", which was actually a prequel to the one made in 1982.  The haunted house was...terrifying.  It was set in Antarctica, and there were aliens and mutated people and body parts and blood everywhere.  It was one of our favorites.  


So we decided we must see both movies.  Years and years ago, in high school, I'd seen the original.  I remember loving it...it was directed by John Carpenter, after all!  We must rent them both!  We must compare!  It would be a campy scare-fest!
  
In the 1982 version, the scene opens to an American expedition in the Antarctic, which is disrupted by a helicopter full of wild-eyed Norwegians chasing a dog, shooting at it and trying to kill it.  (Bad alien doggy.)  This alien form has the ability to infect other organisms and mock its appearance, so pretty soon, the entire camp is paranoid and doesn't know who is human and who isn't.  Everyone's worst side is revealed.  Bizarre mutations follow, lots of explosions and blood.  As one would expect.


The expedition is led by drunk rogue badass R. J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and if you've seen any camp horror flicks you know from the beginning that he will be the one to survive.  These were the Kurt Russell heydays.  My whole family had some fun guessing, based on the variety of stereotypical characters, who would be the next one to bite it.


Predictability aside, Carpenter does keep things tense (I mean, who can get through Halloween without ripping one's hair out?  The dude rocks the tension), and makes the best of the special effects at his disposal in the '80's.  In fact, at the time, the special effect makeup was totally cutting edge.  And Carpenter employs the revered Ennio Morricone for the soundtrack.  It is subtle and simple, but memorable.
  

In the 2011 film, which is to have happened PRIOR to the 1982 version, a Norwegian Antarctic expedition discovers a large alien spaceship under the ice.  They recruit a couple of American experts, both young and attractive (aka the ones who will live) as experts to study a frozen creature that came off the ship.


So...you can figure out where it goes from there.  This is the same baddie, that comes in the form of a dog to the Americans in the 1982 version.  But before the dog escapes, there are a lot of bodies that pile up, are mutated, are set on fire, or explode.  Same deal as the 1982 version except there are better special effects and less (correction...NO) big name actors.    
   

I sound flippant about this second movie, and that is because it really is hard to take seriously.  Both are actually good fun action films that you watch while drinking a glass of wine and can still follow the plot.  Sometimes that is all one requires.  The panache of Carpenter, his actors and soundtrack, however, win the competition.






And because I am a book blog, I must mention that the whole premise is based on a short story entitled "Who Goes There?" written by John W. Campbell Jr. under the pen name Don A. Stuart in 1938.  Before these two films, it was adapted to a motion picture in 1951 as "The Thing From Another World".  


12 comments:

bermudaonion said...

You crack me up - bonding with your daughter over getting the pants scared off of you. These movies aren't for me!

annieb said...

I saw The Thing From Another Planet when I was a little girl at a Saturday matinee and it was fearful scary. James Arness (Gunsmoke, another oldy) played the Thing in what may have been his first movie role. Years later, as a grownup, I saw it again on TV and it was still pretty scary but in black and white there wasn't much gore.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Like Kathy, I love the way you have found to bond - LOL

caite said...

I vaguely remember the first one...and I don't really like to be scared so the whole 'can't take seriously' is a good thing

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

The Huz and I just watched the original a few weeks ago. We both liked it, but I couldn't help feeling sorry for those dogs!

Ti said...

I thought the new flick was just a remake, had no idea it was a prequel. I can't believe you do those horror fest things! I like to be scared but my one experience with them was too real for me.

Jenners said...

I think I saw the beginning of the original Thing but knew quickly it wasn't for me. I'm a wuss. Dont' you hate when you can tell who will live and who will die based on their looks? I hate that.

Zibilee said...

It sound like I would prefer the original, though just to be a completist, I also would watch the new version. My daughter loves scary movies, but I don't watch many. Maybe we can do the same thing and watch these together. Glad that you guys had fun with them!

Kathleen said...

Oh, these are so going on my list of movies to rent. I loved Halloween and would see a John Carpenter movie anytime and I miss Kurt Russell in his hey day days!

Julie P. said...

I can't even imagine watching these. I'm suck a chicken.

Tasha B. said...

I didn't know these were based on a short story! Hm, might have to read that.

Edward said...

I love the body monster mutation movies and JOHN CARPENTER'S "THE THING" (1982) is one of the best famous horror classic film ever. Love the REAL special makeup effects and animatronic special effects in horror films. The film directors oughta make new sequels of this film and take their best time doing the special makeup effects and puppetry special effects.

And I seriously think all the filmmakers should make an over billions of many weird body monster mutation horror movies with all the weirdness craziest eerie special makeup effects.