Hmmm………..I wonder who won the 2011 GINO Award.
*Seth looks at the poll and is shocked & not happy by who won*
*Cue Dramatic Music*
You’ve Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me
Monster Crap Inductee: The Thing
2011 GINO Award Winner
At this point in my life (with crap like The Twilight Saga and the Michael Bay Transformers series getting the big money and every horror movie that has some type of acclaim getting remade), I shouldn’t be this angry. I shouldn’t be as pissed off as I am that a film exists. Unfortunately for me, Hollywood tends to find new ways of making me mad as hell. Such is the fact with the winner of this year’s GINO Award, the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing……The Thing. But I guess I should get into the history…..
In 1982, several years after making Halloween and one year after making The Fog….John Carpenter would take a huge gamble when he decided to remake a known classic in Universal’s The Thing From Another World.
But instead of being a remake that tried to use the same monster model (like basically every other remake), he decided to go more towards the source material “Who Goes There”, a novella by John W. Campbell Jr. In that novella, the creature was undefined and had no known structure as it could imitate anyone, while when caught, acts as its own structure. In the original film however, the creature has a known form and almost looks like a Frankenstein Monster (though you could blame that easily on what they had at the time). But despite that huge change, John Carpenter loved the original film and was talented enough to make a worthy remake (or in my opinion, an improvement) on The Thing From Another World.
The result was my favorite movie of all time and what many people whose opinion I respect would tell me is the perfect horror movie. The casting and the script is perfect. The music fits with the movie and makes many moments terrifying. And the effects………..oh boy, the effects are some of the best I have ever seen. Rob Bottin put so much effort into the film and it showed with the effects. The only creature that he and his crew did not have a hand in was the dog creature which was done by late legendary effects creator Stan Winston.
But despite the opinions of mine and several, the film bombed as it was released two weeks after the gigantic blockbuster that was Steven Spielberg’s E.T. and at the time people did not want to see a movie about aliens that are anything but good. It also did not help that the film was released on the same week as Blade Runner. However, when more people saw it, they loved the great work that was done. There were comic books and video games made based off of it. I love this film so much that I own the DVD and Blu-Ray of this film as well as a nice poster.
In 2004, John Carpenter wanted to do a sequel to this film. He had Kurt Russell and Keith David both agreeing to come back if this film got green lit. They would explain their appearance since they are more than a decade older with frostbite. However, Universal decided that since the movie didn’t do well…..there is no way in hell they were going to do it despite the love from the fans.
So when I heard that there was going to be a prequel, I was not happy. Seriously, you turn down John Carpenter, an acclaimed director and yet do a prequel instead. Look at Ridley Scott. 20th Century Fox (a company that I have made fun of so many times) was asked by Ridley Scott if he could do what he originally called a prequel to Alien, guess what they said. They said YES. So when 20th Century Fox made a way smarter decision than you………….I have every right to be not happy.
But I mention that it could have been worse since Universal originally wanted to make a remake. Now if they had wanted to remake the original, I would roll my eyes…..but I would do nothing more. But nope, they wanted to remake……the remake. That is probably the dumbest idea I have ever heard. When Peter Jackson wanted to remake King Kong, they don’t want to remake the 1970s film….they want to remake the original film from the 1930s.So to the people who were the higher ups at Universal in 2011, your idea to remake a remake….is so dumb that when I heard your original idea……..my mind was blown by it.
However, smarter heads prevailed and they were able to get the film to be a prequel, which quelled some of the resentment. However, when we heard that the effects would have CGI, that resentment returned. With the laziness that CGI has had in many years and the fact that many of filmmakers of these remakes don’t have the credentials to make a regular blockbuster, not many people were happy with that as well as not happy with the announcement that this would be the first full feature film for its director Matthijis van Heeijningen Jr.
Then it got even worse for me when it was announced that the main star of this film would be Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Now before I get hate mail from her fans, I will say this…………she is very attractive. However, in every film that I have seen her in, my thoughts have ranged from “Ehh” to “I Hate This Film”. So when I heard she was going to be the main star of this film and will play the protagonist of this film, I was like “This does not sound good”. Then it got even worse when I saw the first trailer and it was announced that the film would be called “The Thing”. So yeah, a prequel to a film called “The Thing” would be called “The Thing”. Do you know how confusing that would be for people of future generations? That would be like calling a prequel to Star Wars and just calling it Star Wars instead of the different title.
Their excuse…..they couldn’t think of a better name. You have got to be freaking kidding me!!!! Your trailer, before it announced as called “The Thing”, you had “Something”. There is your fucking prequel name, you lazy bastards.
So yeah, I did not see this film in theaters and I have no problem saying that I saw this film through my computer, although it ended up getting a virus and had to be repaired so I ended up paying more than what I would have paid for if I went and saw the movie in theaters. What I saw pissed me off so much that I broke many of my own rules so that I could nominate it for the GINO Award and I wasn’t the only one who hated it because by a close margin…..this film won so many thought this deserves my anger.
Something you need to know: I originally got the Blu Ray on Netflix, but my software does not allow me to get pictures from Blu Rays so I had to get a regular DVD of the film on Netflix.
Another thing, I should mention that for renting the film, you get rewarded with not being allowed to watch any of the bonus features. Oh the features will show up on the menu, but if you click one of them…..it will say this is only a rental copy and the only way you can watch the bonus features is to own the film on either Blu-Ray or DVD. What a very selfish DVD.
But really, I need to stop delaying the inevitable and get to this film.
So we begin this movie in Antarctica in Winter of 1982 and how will we know this is 1982.
Yep……That Is The Only Thing You Will Get. Trust Me, Nothing Else Will Tell You That This Is The Winter Of 1982.
Then we begin with some Norwegians telling a joke about a kid catching his parents fucking and then the next day he fucks his grandmother in front of his dad and tells the dad “Not so much funny when it’s your mom, is it?”
Excuse me for a minute.
*Seth goes and grabs giant bottle of alcohol. Afterwards, Seth takes a huge swig.*
I’m sorry, but I seriously needed something to get my mind off one of the worst and most disgusting jokes I have ever heard. It’s not funny and it makes me want to puke.
Anyway, there is a guy in the back who is directing the two up front to drive towards a strange signal. Suddenly, they are over the signal and like magic……the ice starts to break apart.
They fall into the hole, but are saved by the edges.
They put on the lights to their vehicle and are shocked by what they see.
Looks Metallic………..It Must Be A Space Craft
We then get the burning title like we do in most of these films.
But there is a problem………look at the font and then look at the font to the others.
So I Guess That Is How We Are Supposed To Tell That This Is A Prequel And Not A Remake……….The Font Is Different
We transition to Kate Lloyd looking at the remains of a frozen animal at a laboratory while on her headphones listening to “Who Can It Be Now” by Men At Work.
I’ve got another problem here. That is a good song to play, but there is a small problem. “Who Can It Be Now” was not released in the United States until August (pretty late in the summer) of 1982, but it was released in Australia in 1981 and since this film is supposed to take place in the WINTER of 1982, unless Kate Lloyd knew a good bootlegger or spent some time in Australia, she would have never heard of that song nor would have any way of having a cassette to play that song.
Now you may be looking at me for being nitpicking, but it kind of tells you that this is only the winter of 1982 because the John Carpenter film that this film is supposed to be “before” took place at that same time. Oh and the Carpenter film had the music right on the money, because it actually was 1982. Also, you could have chosen a different song that wonders who someone is. Like The Who’s “Who Are You”, which had that single released in 1977. We have not even gotten to the monster and already, I am not in a good mood.
Oh and headphones were a bit bulkier in 1982.
Another guy named Adam comes into the room and it is clear that the two know each other. Adam then introduces his boss, Dr. Sander Halvorson.
Sander says that the Norwegian team in Antarctica found something strange and they would like her to join them in discovering what it is. She accepts and we go to the helicopter with her, Sander, Adam, and a Norwegian named Griggs and the copter is piloted by two Americans.
I could get into the fact that it is daytime in these shots when in actuality it would be endless night for the winters in Antarctica, but the John Carpenter film made that mistake too so I won’t hold that against this film.
The two pilots are Derek Jameson and Sam Carter.
Sam asks Kate if she knows how the Cleveland Cavaliers are doing. Kate says that she doesn’t follow football, but Sam was nice enough to correct her in saying that they are actually a basketball team, which she still has no info on. Derek makes some remark that the Cavaliers barely play basketball, which indicates that they suck, which they did at that time. He then warns them that whatever they are doing, they might want to wrap it up in a couple of days because there is a storm moving in and it is a nasty one. Also that last place she wants to be during a storm in Antarctica is cooped up with a bunch of Norwegian guys.
They arrive at the camp and are greeted by the other Norwegians. They are immediately driven to the location of the find.
Remember that hole from earlier, it’s gone. Also, if you have seen the 1982 The Thing as much as I have, you will notice little things like the fact that in that film, the ship was well intact, but in a giant crater caused by depth charges.
Well, in this film…..the ship buried in a ice mountain that would have had to have been destroyed by a giant meteorite to case a crater of that size, but we will get to more of that later on. Anyway, they discover the giant spaceship and are shocked by it. They estimate that this has been here for over 100,000 years and they picked up a signal the other day. They think the signal was made after the survivor exited the craft. Okay, if this signal had been indicated for 100,000 years, why was it now picked up since you aren’t from another galaxy?
They go to where they found the frozen survivor and unfortunately you don’t get a very good look at the creature.
Oh You Will Be Thankful For These Moments Of The Unknown Later
They decide to get the ice block containing the creature, which takes a half of a day. Also, Sander tells the Norwegians to make sure no one is on the radio since they want to be hush-hush about what they have found. One of the guys we meet introduces himself Peder.
We are also introduced to Lars, who only speaks Norwegian, which is helpful since every other person in this NORWEGIAN camp is able to speak English.
A Bit Too Fucking Convenient
Then Adam pretty much asks Henrik Larson what I have been asking and what I will be asking later.
Adam: So let me get this right: you crash into a glacier, and then without enough information, you leave the cozy confines of your ship?
Henrik: Well, maybe it was hurt and wanted to find some place warm.
Adam: Well, I guess it didn’t find it.
Now here is the problem with that theory. Unless that ship was broken, it would start up the ship and leave due to it being worried about breathing in the air and all of that crap. This part will bite this film in the ass later.
That night, everyone goes to sleep except Kate who looks out the window. Then the only other female besides her, Juliette, calms her down by saying that the first night is always hard, but you will get used to it.
Kate apologizes if she woke her up and says that she will never look at the stars the same way again.
The next day, they get the ice block out. Once it is inside, they decide how to get the creature out of the ice without damaging the creature. Adam mentions that he never believed in aliens, but the red bearded guy named Jonas always did.
Sander comes in and wants to take a small tissue sample, which Kate is unsure if that is a good idea. Sander says that he does. Kate then says they don’t have the right equipment, which Sander brings out a drill which some guy named Edvard gave him. Kate leaves as Sander follows and when they are alone, Sander asks Kate not to contradict him in front of the others. They produce the drill and get the sample they need.
There seems to be a get together in the Rec Room afterwards where people are drinking. Sander says he would like to say that he has never seen anything like the find they have gotten today. While giving his speech, we notice that the ice is starting to thaw out. After the speech, everyone starts celebrating with music and beer. Oh and the Ukulele that was being played…..that model was made in the 2000s….yet this film is supposed to be 1982.
*Seth shakes head at the clear failure to have stuff for that time period.*
Let’s continue….we also see the dog get nervous.
The Only Reason I Am Mentioning This Is Because The Dog Is Only There For One Reason As We Will Find Out Later
Derek leaves and decides to check on the ice block. He then gets startled by………….I can’t believe this…
Pederson Being An Asshole And Yelling “BOO!”
*Sigh* Moving on….
\When Derek goes to leave, the creature breaks out.
Of course, nobody heard all that noise and it only takes Derek to tell the others before they run to the block. Once they realize what has happened, they decide to search in groups of two for it. Immediately a group learns that Lars’ dog is missing.
Although You Would Think That Dog Has Become A Meal
Elsewhere Henrik and Olav find the creature and Henrik dies.
Get Over Here!!!!
Olav screams and the rest come to his aid. They try shooting at it, but that doesn’t work. Someone decides to burn the creature and thus, that is how they find out how to kill the creature.
Olav is checked on to see if he is okay and we see Juliette crying over Henrik’s death. Sander decides to immediately be an uncaring prick and just wants to examine the remains. Sam wants to destroy it, but Sander says he is the leader and says he wants to studies it. Sam says that Olav is messed up and needs to leave for medical attention. He asks Edvard to bring it in and he agrees.
While dissecting the creature, they find what they originally believe to be Henrik.
They think that the creature was trying to absorb him. They also notice something metal.
Karl mentions that it is a titanium plate used because Henrik broke his arm last year.
Of course that makes them wonder if it was inside him, then what is it doing outside. In the lab, Kate discovers that the creature cells absorb and then create perfect imitations of normal cells.
Adam also sees this and is terrified. The next day, Sam and Derek prepare to transport Olav to a military hospital. He gives Kate a creepy look that tries to convince us, the audience, that he is The Thing. So because they are trying of course to convince us he is The Thing, it definitely means he isn’t. Griggs decides to come with them so he can keep Olav warm. While in the bathroom, Kate notices a lot of blood and sees metal pieces left, which makes her figure out that someone in the helicopter is The Thing.
This Is The Exact Moment Where Scooby Doo Would Say “Ruh Roh”
Kate waves the copter down mid-flight and they decide to go down. Olav wonders what is going on and Griggs says that everything will be fine.
Griggs Is The Thing!!!!!
Griggs-Thing attacks Olav and tries to absorb him.
In Complete Crappy CGI!!!!!
Okay, I’m gonna need something to save me from the horrors this movie brings so every time I see crappy CGI, I am going to take a drink.
*Takes a swig.*
And besides the CGI, we have our biggest problem. This Thing doesn’t hide very well as it attacks on a whim. In John Carpenter’s version, the creature would wait for the perfect moment to attack. This creature just attacks if you look at him funny. I know you want to make it be inexperienced, but two issues with that. One, it becomes less thrilling. Two, this creature has probably attacked other planets in the past so it is probably experienced at this.
Moving on, this whole situation causes the helicopter to crash, much to Kate’s horror. Colin tries to call for help, but Sander still wants to keep things secret. Edvard is upset by the situation as he would like to get help as well. Kate goes back to the bathroom and sees that it has been cleaned up, which means that there is another person who is The Thing. She tells everyone that no one can leave this camp and explains what she has found. She shows the fillings and explains that the creature has probably replicated someone here, but it can’t replicate inorganic material. She then said that someone had cleaned up the pool so someone is one of them. Edvard has heard enough and prepares to leave. Kate tries to ask everyone to stay, but most don’t believe her. However, Juliette does and says she thinks she has seen Colin cleaning it.
Juliette says that she knows where the keep the keys and leads her to the room. However, as they are in the room, we realize it was a trick and Juliette is The Thing.
Time to take another drink.
*Takes another swig.*
It attacks her, but she is able to escape. She runs into Karl and tries to help Karl, but Juliette-Thing attacks and kills Karl.
Jonas and Adam hear the commotion and come to Kate’s aid. Lars comes in with a flamethrower and they prepare to confront Juliette-Thing.
Lars uses the flamethrower and burns the Juliette-Thing.
I know this should count as the same thing, but the CGI fire adds to the horror so another drink.
Juliette-Thing enters the kitchen and tries to use the sprinklers to put out the flames. However, Lars continues with the flame thrower until the creature burns to death.
Excuse me…..I’m gonna need to take some time to blow off some steam.
*Seth leaves, goes to the Angry Marks chat room where he gets into an argument with his boss, goes outside afterwards and starts yelling.*
SHUT UP!!!! FUCK YOU!!!! THIS SUCKS!!!!! AHHHH!!!!!!!
*Red steam starts coming out of his ears, it forms into one cloud, and leaves.*
Huh??? Oh well….
*Seth goes to sleep and sports a hangover the next day. After the hangover pain ends, he continue his induction.*
Anyway, they grab the remains of Juliette-Thing and take it outside. There they pour more fluid on it and set the beast ablaze.
Lars looks at her a little strangely and leaves, with Kate following. He shows her that they have grenades just in case. Edvard comes in asking if everything is alright and the two say that it is. They decide to go inside before the storm gets worse, but before they go inside…..Sam and Derek show up.
Inside, the test is being made with vials having each person’s name. Both Sander and Adam keeping looking at each other because even they don’t trust each other, which is understandable. Sander leaves as Adam looks on. In a tool shed, both Derek and Sam are told that they must stay in here until the test is ready because it is very suspicious that they survived the crash. When Lars and Kate go back inside, they see that the lab has been burned.
Kate then says that there might another way and says that she wants to check everyone’s teeth for fillings. She grabs a flashlight and she wants everyone to open their mouths. Lars is safe since you can easily see his metallic fillings. Kate then shows that she has fillings to, although we as the audience can’t see them…..apparently Lars can. We then see that Peder also has fillings. Jonas also has fillings so he is fine. Adam says that he flosses so he doesn’t have fillings, Kate isn’t sure if to believe him so she sends him over to the other side. Sander says he has porcelain fillings so because no one can tell if he is telling the truth or lying, he is sent over with Adam. Kate then asks if anyone else has porcelain fillings or clean teeth. Colin says this whole test is bloody absurd. When faced with a flamethrower, he opens his mouth and he doesn’t have any metallic fillings. Colin says this whole test is wrong so he is sent over with Adam and Sander. Edvard gets asked and he immediately goes over with the others, not even bothering with the test.
(From Right To Left) Sander, Edvard, Adam, & Colin…….The Predictable Suspects
Kate has Lars and Jonas to check on Derek and Sam. Jonas wants to leave them there for security purposes, but Lars says that since Kate wants to get them…..he is listening to her. They go to the tool shed, but….
Lars leaves to go find them while Jonas tells the others that Derek and Sam have escaped. Jonas comes in panicking because he thinks he saw something attack Lars so of course, he blames the two escaped Americans. Panic starts erupting from the group as they then hear glass break, which means Sam and Derek have broken in. They find the two escapees in the hallway. The two also have a flamethrower and Peder confronts them with a flamethrower of his own. Sam wants Peder to drop it, but Edvard says to not listen to them. Derek produces a gun and shoots Peder in the head.
*Chugs down some more alky*
One of the arm creatures immediately kills Jonas by attaching itself to his face.
*Guzzles down some more firewater.*
The tentacle starts destroying crap and Adam tries to leave, but of course, he gets wounded.
While Sam and Kate are tending to a downed Derek, Edvard thing transforms some more.
Uh Oh…..*Swallows Some More Pallatives.*
Oh No…..*Drains Down Some More Spirits.*
Damn It…..*Absorbs In Some More Hootch.*
Edvard-Thing goes over to Adam and starts melding with him.
I’m Starting To Regret Doing This…..*Liquors Up Again*
Kate gets the flamethrower working and tries to attack the creature, but it has now escaped. Kate sees that Jonas might become the creature so she burns him.
Yep...This Was Definitely A Bad Idea….*Nips Up Some More*
Kate and Sam come across one of the creature arms and San tries to chop it in two.
Damn, I Was Hoping For A Break *Takes In More Liquid*
The creature splits into two creatures and comes together again. Kate decides to burn the damn thing. Sam goes to grab the axe, but Kate tells her to leave it there.
Because They Needed To Find It In John Carpenter’s The Thing.
The two go into another room with maps and such, where Split-Face breaks through a window.
More of the terrible CGI of Split-Face……Cheers.
*Inhales some more canned heat*
You know, this film is now just trying to kill me…..but hell, it’s better than watching this sober. The creature corners Sam and since Sam only has a knife, he seems to be in deep shit when Kate shows up to burn the bastard. Split-Face tries to run outside, but it is burned and killed as we get one more shot of the beast burning.
Shit……..*Hits The Bottle Again*
Okay, let me ask you this right now. What would be more terrifying…
Imagining Split-Face When He Was Alive In John Carpenter’s The Thing
Or Seeing It Alive In Shitty CGI In The Thing Prequel
I think you take the original’s creep factor every damn time.
They see that Sander has grabbed a vehicle to run away from.
Remember When They Supposedly Took Out All Of The Vehicles??? Yeah…..This Movie Did Not Remember That.
They see that and Sam wants to let him go because he will freeze out there. RJ MacReady from John Carpenter’s The Thing…..show this punk why that’s not the best idea.
RJ: It wants to freeze now. It’s got no way out of here. It just wants to go to sleep in the cold till the rescue team finds it.
Thank you RJ. Anyway, Kate says she wants to be sure it is dead, but Sam says it has nowhere to go. Kate then says that it does have somewhere to go……no, please tell me you are not going to….
Yes, that’s right apparently the spaceship still works. So you mean to tell me all this time, that it was working. That leaves two huge questions.
1. Why the fuck did it leave its spacecraft and not go back up?
2. Why when it got someone did it not go back immediately
So yeah, they decide to stop the creature from inside the UFO by blowing it up. We see the inside of this and we see one of the power sources.
Okay, Movie………..Now You Have Just Given Up With Even Trying To Hide The CGI
I guess I need to do it again.
*Downs more intoxicant*
Kate sees this and is immediately cornered by Sander-Thing.
Oh Fuck You Movie……*Seth Wets His Whistle*
Great………I just finished an entire big bottle of alcohol so I know I am going to be regretting this tomorrow.
We get a chase scene between Kate and Sander-Thing. At this point, it seems all over for Kate, but she throws a grenade in the creature’s mouth and it blows up.
Sam is able to get her out in time before the monster explodes, stopping the ship from launching. When they get back to the car, Sam mentions that there is a Russian base 90 miles from there. Hmm…..I wonder why John Carpenter mentioned this. Oh yeah, because in 1982…..they weren’t called Russians.
They Were Called Soviets Still And If Americans Did Pop By, The Soviets Might Rather Put A Bullet In Your Head Than Speak To You!!!! Winter of 1982, My Ass!!!!!
When they head back towards the truck, Kate exposes Sam for being one of the monsters as well and burns him.
Kate ponders what to do as the credits start to roll……No, no, no, no, no. We are allowing Kate No-Fucks to survive this movie so I am writing in further lines in the script to end this. Not even giving it an ambiguous ending like John Carpenter did, because both Kurt Russell and Keith David earned that ending. So here is my end to her character….in italics so you know this is mine.
Kate gets to the Russian Camp. Forgetting the Cold War is still going on and they are Soviets, not Russians…..she is surprised when a member of the camp grabs a gun and shoots her between the eyes.
But this movie isn’t over yet because during the credits, a Norwegian chopper comes by and Lars is still alive.
Run Dog.......,It's Not Too Late To Get Out Of This Piece Of Shit.
Lars knows that is not the dog and he orders the helicopter pilot (named Matias) to chase the dog. The film really ends where they are chasing and trying to kill the dog, which is where John Carpenter’s The Thing begins. So yeah, the only reason that dog was ever in this film was because they were chasing a dog in the better film. I’m gonna need some time to chill and get over the upcoming hangover that I know will be coming before I continue with aftermaths and thoughts.
*One day later and after a very painful hangover, Seth continues with this induction.*
Thankfully despite the fact that it technically made more money that the John Carpenter film in the box office overall, this one cost more and unlike the John Carpenter film, failed to make its money back so yes……….this film did bomb. There are many blames as to why this film bombed, but I blame it on this prequel was not needed. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who played Kate) will go on to be the female lead in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Erik Christian Olsen (who played Adam) has gone back to playing Det. Marty Deeks on NCIS: Los Angeles.
Before I get to my thoughts, I would like to mention how many people were horrified by the CGI, just like I was. I would be remised to mention that they had actual animatronics on set and I’ve seen some of them and they looked impressive as hell. However, the impact of those animatronics was cancelled out because they were covered with horrible CGI. One of the things they wanted were more tentacles……seems like someone watched some hentai before filming.
But the most interesting response to this crap the producers and editors did when adding the CGI was done by a man who is in the business of doing extras on DVDs and Blu-Rays, a man who I got my John Carpenter’s The Thing poster, Mr. Michael “Slipcase” Felsher who said this in his Dread Central Editorial….done in italics so you can differentiate.
First off, consider me to be a full-fledged obsessive fan of John Carpenter's The Thing. It was one of the formative films of my youth and remains to this day one of my all time favorite movies...period. It's an expert examination of escalating paranoia and pressure-cooker suspense with a stellar cast, nimble and effective screenwriting, dread-soaked photography and score, and expert finely-tuned direction that never missteps once. All of this, and one of the most kick-ass "downer" endings that earns its hard-won finality from a film whose tone signals death and resigned self-sacrifice from the very get-go.
I am one of those devotees who loves to debate when the creature assimilated certain characters and who exactly was responsible for the sabotage of the blood supply. When was Blair assimilated? In the shack, or even before that point? Is Childs still himself at the end of the picture, or is he some "thing" else? Shit if I know, but I'll continue to theorize until my last days, I promise you.
It's a film that upon every viewing has me looking down Carpenter's darkened hallways and around every shadow with never-ending nervous anticipation. The few "jump out of your seat" moments might have worn off some over time, but the film's inherent unsettling nature has only been enhanced by the decades since its release. It's truly a masterpiece. No genre qualifier needed. End of fuckin' story.
When word came of a "prequel" being developed by Universal Pictures, I was ambivalent but intrigued. I was relieved that the option of a full-blown (and completely unnecessary) remake seemed off the table. I was also encouraged by the announcement that the production was interested instead in tying the new effort to Carpenter's classic by way of exploring the unseen incidents at the Norwegian Camp that threaded the fabric of the 1982 film.
Still, it has been my experience that prequels are almost always a sketchy and creatively bankrupt business to be in. First off, your ending tends to be written in stone from the get go, since the events in your new film must inevitably lead into pre-established storylines. Also, you run the risk of explaining events that were better left shrouded in mystery in the first place. One need only look at the recent travails of the Star Wars series to see how filling in the gaps can backfire horribly in more ways than one.
However, despite my misgivings about the prequel concept in general, I was encouraged by the early development of the new Thing. Strike Entertainment was on board to produce, and their efforts on the Dawn of the Dead re-do from 2004 remain one of the high-water marks for the remake trend in general from the last several years. Also numerous comments from the film's screenwriter and director assured me that their mutual respect for Carpenter's film would guide their efforts in putting together a film that tied into multiple visual elements from his film, while still revealing interesting twists and surprises along the way.
The Thing (as it was eventually and confusingly titled) was originally slated to open in the spring of 2011, but was suddenly pulled from the schedule without official explanation. Nary a word about the film's fate was heard for many months. I heard vague rumors of additional shooting, but since nearly every film has reshoots or additional scenes done after principal photography these days, I was hardly alarmed.
Then in late summer, the trailers, still images, and full-on ad campaign assault began to ramp up, and from what I could see, the movie certainly had captured the look and feel of the '82 film and stood a good chance of being exactly the respectful and entertaining film it was intended to be by its makers.
I avoided as many of the early reviews as possible and at long last, took in a screening at noon on Friday, October 14th ... opening day.
I walked out two hours later. I felt and still feel confused and somewhat baffled by what I saw.
For a film that gets so many little details right, it feels curiously disjointed, and the final third of the film feels completely disconnected from the rest of the movie. For the most part, I was intrigued and impressed by the film's technical quality and moody atmosphere. I really felt like we were being given witness to the events that so ultimately doomed the American Research Station many miles from the Norwegian camp. Everything from the set design of the camp (which recreates the camp seen in Carpenter's film to a perfectionist's degree, albeit in much better condition), to the timing of certain crucial events and the new characters, many of whom would have felt right at home at the American Research station.
And yet, the new movie seems to have suffered a fate worse than death. As the minutes ticked by, The Thing '11 began to morph and reshape itself into a standard action/sci-fi programmer and suddenly the final third of the picture descends into routine creature feature showdown territory that became old hat in the 1990s. These scenes are maddeningly routine and predictable and completely at odds with the tone established in the first two-thirds of the picture.
For all the intended aspirations and claims of fidelity and integrity by the filmmakers, the climactic scenes end up generating so many needless logistical errors and Earth-sized continuity issues with the 1982 film, it ultimately negates most of what comes before it. And judging from several key clues present in the version in theatres right now, I would find it nigh impossible to believe that this film didn't go through significant alterations in post-production. This THING has the stink of compromise all over its final act, and it can even be sniffed out in scenes earlier than that.
I was not involved in this film's production, though I do know several people who worked on it in various capacities. From everything I heard coming out of the film's shoot in Toronto in 2010, there was little reason to doubt that the end result would least be a coherent and worthwhile film in most respects with a careful balance of practical and computer generated effects that would allow this film to stand side by side with its venerated predecessor. First-time feature director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. clearly has a way with atmosphere and pacing, and was an excellent choice IMHO to helm this tale. Writer Eric Heisserer loads his script with countless nods and links to Carpenter's film that greatly enhance the action, even if several scenes can't help but cover previously explored territory. Producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman of Strike Entertainment clearly formed a production that had its eye on the ball as far as its production value and steadfast adherence to the previous Thing's style and ominous tone.
The cast, headed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton, was eclectic enough and evoked the previous stellar cast without resorting to imitation. I was initially concerned at the idea of bringing in token Americans to the Norwegian base, but the film handles this aspect well, and I was able to believe in their presence there without any real issues. The film's other technical credits are all first rate, with special mention to creature designers Tom Woodruff and Alec Gillis and their team at Amalgamated Dynamics, who admirably step in the shoes of previous THING creator Rob Bottin and deliver elegantly twisted and horrific extensions of his influential practical creations. Obviously CGI enhancement comes into play here, but until that problematic final act, the blend is actually very successful for the most part.
So there are a lot of positives to be found here, and that's probably why I find it somewhat heartbreaking to see so many talented and obviously right-headed creativity flushed down the toilet by some clearly boneheaded and poorly thought out revisions that end up costing the film its narrative structure and tone.
Upon returning to the American facility, several videotapes and documents taken from the Norwegian base are reviewed that reveals that the scientists and researchers there had been studying strange signals from an area not far from their camp. Videos also show multiple members of the team out on expedition on a huge flat of ice that they videotape being loaded up with explosives and detonated in a massive blast.
Members of the American team determine the location of this event and venture out discovering a huge open crater with the scarred remains of a what appears to be an alien spacecraft. Not far from the crater is a rectangular abscess in the snow that clearly indicates the source of the previously discovered block of ice.
As far as the Norwegian story threads present in the original Carpenter film, that's pretty much the extent of what information we are given about the incidents and events out there that happened before the 1982 film began. How did the Norwegians come across The Thing? How did it escape the block of ice? What decisions led them to use explosives to remove the ice from the spaceship, and did they ever venture inside? These mysteries were the pivotal building blocks that the 2011 film used to construct its plot and character dynamics, and it was honestly a blast to see such amazing detail given to even the smallest visual touches from John Carpenter's classic. We now know how that axe ended up stuck in that door, and why the manlike creature found burned outside in the snow looked the way he (or it) did. These are only two of many examples of such attention to detail.
It is this clear and apparent detail work that helps to show the 2011 film's final 30 minutes for the poorly conceived and ill-thought out patch job that they are. The climax of the prequel takes place onboard the spaceship that the Norwegians uncover in the ice. Which would be fine, except for two rather large problems. Number one is that the spaceship is never uncovered from the ice at any point. Portions of it are revealed by the end of the picture, but it is never even close to being in the open-air state that the Americans find it in the 1982 film. The second and most glaring error present here though clearly illustrates, for me, a film that has been carelessly revised without thought to basic storytelling logic or cohesion. Underneath all that snow and ice that shouldn't be there, is a spaceship that is in pristine shape and apparently still in working order. At no point in the film do the Norwegians, American visitors, or any combination thereof detonate any explosives or videotape themselves doing anything of the sort. For a film that seems borderline obsessed with tying every piece of visual bric-a-brac to a previous motion picture, it seems more than odd that it would forget to include and acknowledge one of the most important events established in the Thing of 1982.
I could easily just write that off as bad filmmaking, but I can't. Something happened here, and I'm very curious as to what it was. I cannot believe that the creative team that set out to make a film that could be honorably and fairly compared to a modern masterpiece of horror and science fiction, would succeed in so many ways only to completely botch and derail their efforts by forgetting about the circumstances surrounding the damn spaceship!
Not to mention the fact that once the action hits the spaceship, the movie turns into a standard stalk n' scare that plays out like a slightly more serious take on the giant bug fight from the end of Men in Black. As for the film's previously handled balance of practical and CGI creature work ... all of that goes out the proverbial window at the end, with a super-sized Thing creature that seemed to carted in from a completely different movie altogether. Not to mention the fact that the animation of the creature is only partially effective and not of a piece with the creature work seen in the rest of the film. The Thing's final appearance in this movie is why people rant so passionately against CGI in films these days. The final "thing" exists in its own space and for no other reason than to show off the skills of its animators. It is out in the open for everyone to see...no mystery, and no intrigue. Which is not something I felt I could say about the vast majority of the monster effects seen before the climax.
Then there's the matter of Edgerton's and Winstead's character resolutions. Logic would dictate that neither one gets out of this picture alive, since obviously neither character appear in the Carpenter film. Plus, any miraculous escape would surely lead to them getting word out about what was going on, which undoubtedly would have gotten to the American camp in pretty short order, radio problems or not. Since the 1982 film establishes only two survivors from the Norwegian camp (who don't last long anyway and are clearly Norwegian), we know that the fates of these two Americans are not bound to be happy ones. I was intrigued by how would they meet their ends, but sadly the movie quickly offs Edgerton with some rather dubious business involving an earring, and then cuts to the end credits after a few seconds of Winstead sitting in a working snow cat, pondering her next move. What next move? There's some mention of a nearby Russian encampment, but if Winstead makes it there, doesn't it stand to reason she'd be up and about quickly thereafter warning any nearby camps about the situation? Or does this poor girl just freeze to death there at the base of the spaceship? Wouldn't the Americans find their frozen corpse later on, once they turned up to investigate the site? The site that is now still covered in ice...that mysteriously vanishes somehow. Did the people who came up with this "ending" even see Carpenter's film? While I appreciated the final moments that play out over the credits (another sign of something amiss in the editing room) they come as too little too late to make a difference. The damage had been done.
Look, I could be wrong. Maybe this Thing is exactly the movie its makers intended for us to see. If that's true, then blame should be appropriately afforded to the filmmakers for fumbling the ball so embarrassingly in the 4th quarter.
But I don't think I am wrong. At some point, a decision was made to "fix" things. Whether there were true problems with the film or not, who is to say ... but if this was the solution, then clearly it was made by those who did not understand the film they were trying to save. This movie's ambition seemed to be from the onset to create an experience that was both its own unique creation and yet a close relation to a now-established classic of the genre
Maybe that was an approach doomed to keep the film from being fully successful in its own right, I don't know. All I can say is that whatever was done to this movie to make it "work" now stands as yet another sad example of what can happen when good and earnest creative impulses and decisions are countermanded by traditional thinking and "yes men" mentalities.
I'm only a paying moviegoer here, but I would love to know what happened to The Thing, and why.
Or am I just being paranoid?
- Michael Felsher
No you are not paranoid as many of the arguments you have made are why I hate this movie.
Folks, as you could tell by the drinking and bad attitude that I absolutely think this might the worst film I ever inducted. While on the simple idea of going from beginning to end, Monster A Go-Go and several others were worse….but this is from a fan who has mentioned that his favorite film of all time was the film that this movie was supposed to be a prequel for. That film was sacred to me, and to see it uncaringly fucked all to hell by this prequel…..just puts me in a terrible move. Biasness on my end…..fuck yeah!!!! The effects in the original were outstanding and still hold up today. John Carpenter and even Howard Hanks in The Thing From Another World gave a shit about what they were making and make something that we can remember. I’m not even going to harp on the effects anymore because I have done that to death. Both of the films I mentioned had a cast of characters that you cared about while in this film…..other than a few characters, you couldn’t separate from any other character (in fact, more than half of the characters I had to look up what their names were). Both John Carpenter’s The Thing and Howard Hanks’ The Thing From Another World understood what time period they were in while this so-called “prequel” didn’t have a fucking clue. And the worst part of this is……….in several years, people will forget they ever did a prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing. For me, I will never forget or forgive the shitheads who exploited a cinematic classic and ran it into the ground. Fuck you Universal Studios for doing this, if I was unlucky enough to even own this film, I would buy a flamethrower so I could take this film out back and burn it to the fucking ground. This is very deserving of the 2011 GINO Award and films like this make me wonder why I do Monster Crap because apparently, nobody in Hollywood fucking learns.
But I’m not going to let this film destroy me because if that happens, this film has won. So next month, we are going to do another one of those films I like, but there are people who don’t because if I do another film that pisses me off after this, I just might. Thankfully, the next scheduled film is one of those.