I grew up in the 1960’s watching every sci-fi and horror movie that they would run on Television. One of my favorite scary sci-fi movies was 1951’s The Thing from Another World. This film felt very real to my young mind and more frightening because of it. Still, I loved John Carpenter’s The Thing when it came out at the theaters in June of 1982. This was clearly the best horror-sci-fi hybrid film since Ridley Scott’s Alien. I have watched it a few times over the years and unfortunately it has not aged as well as Alien. Yet, I’d still put 1982’s The Thing on my top twenty lists of sci-fi or horror films.
I do have to wonder after nearly thirty years since the release of Carpenter's The Thing why they would make a prequel to it. I’d actually understand a remake more; perhaps going back to the source material – John W. Campbell’s short story “Who Goes There?” Because Carpenter had to rely on animatronic technology exclusively for the alien, it would seem logical that Hollywood would consider The Thing perfect for a CGI-3D remake. I’m not saying I think that is a good idea, but it would make sense from a Hollywood perspective. Instead, it appears that director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. has attempted to emulate the look of Carpenter’s film, shooting on 35 mm film and using practical creature effects as much as possible. While this may please the die-hard fanboys of the 1982 film (are there really that many of them?), will a general science fiction/horror film fan base support such a traditionally produced genre film?
I honestly am not excited to see The Thing, but I may go to it out of curiosity and my general need to support science fiction theatrically released films. I do like the lead actress: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who has been mostly underutilized in her genre film appearances such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Death Proof, Black Christmas and Final Destination 3. However, most of the cast are minor actors whose work I am at best marginally familiar with. The director, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., is even more of a mystery, as this is his feature film debut. The trailer looks promising, so lets hope The Thing is a prequel worthy to the film it is trying so hard to emulate. The Thing will be released in theaters October 14, 2011.