Whew, THE THING. THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. Both films shaped my love of horror films for different reasons and both were equally amazing and powerful works in my mind.
THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD - 1951
Howard Hawks really brought the John W. Campbell short story "Who goes there?" to life with his Direction. There are Howard Hawks moments throughout the film and it's SO WONDERFULLY 50s. (( I ALWAYS mess this up. Christian Nyby was also a Director on this film, but I always leave him out. Sorry Chris. :) ))
Quick dialog and some grand play with the camera and character interactions makes this one of the biggies from my childhood. Mom would make a huge bowl of popcorn and we'd sit and watch the afternoon movie back in the ye old 1970-somethings and we'd never miss THE THING when it was on.
You know the story. A team of scientists in a remote, arctic outpost pair up with the Air Force to investigate a U.F.O. crash site. They discover an alien occupant and bring it back to the base to check out. Said occupant thaws and mayhem ensues as the small outpost wages war against the alien to save the planet from being taken over.
There are little things in here that make me smile time and time again. Conversations are like machine gun fire - rattling off quickly and smoothly with some cute, 1950s moments that are just awesome. Some good writing there. Then there are things like doors opening and closing. Watch the film again. You'll see doors opening and closing, people going in and out and people talking about doors throughout. But why? Oh...you'll find out! HA! And the James Arness monster makeup is grand.
The story goes that test makeup was done on a stand-in offsite before shooting started. Jack Pierce did the makeup, I believe. When the effects artist got the perfect THING, he tossed the stand-in into the car to drive him over to the studio to show the execs. On the way over, a women in another car looked over and started SCREAMING at the top of her lungs in her vehicle. The makeup artist knew this was the one after that.
I just love this film.
THE THING - 1982
Now, I went a long while wanting to kill every remake with fire. They could never make me happy.
But....wow. Walking into the theater, sitting down and having this film unfold before me like it did - even with pages and pages of FANGORIA magazine pre-press committed to memory - just completely blew our minds.
Here you have two people (my Mother and I) who not only loved the original, but had all these huge, emotional ties to it as well. The film had to be amazing to make us come anywhere close to liking it as much as the original film. We sat there at the opening copter scene and were interested. This was different and we were ok with it and wondered where it would lead.
Turns out it lead to some of the most impressive effects work we'd seen and we'd seen a lot being genre film lovers for years and years. Rob Bottin took things up to screaming standards with his practical effects work and blew us away. It was fantastic.
The script was grand as well, taking the original storyline and adding some super details and game changing plot points into the mix that made this an update well worth sparing from the flames of hatred. They basically kept the whole of the story and added this mystery element of who was good and who was bad in that ramped the game up to new and fantastic heights.
And Carpenter was SPOT ON POINT with all his work on the film with a cast that took everything and played it real and deadly serious. That's why this remake stands out among many as a work that can not only stand on it's own, but one that people really can't see being without in the horror community.
And, this is what I really want out of a remake. I really don't mind them anymore, but...make an effort. That's all I ask. Try something interesting. Update the sucker with something cool and new. Maybe do some writing. :)
I suppose I should take a look at the 2011 THE THING (...that we couLd not come up with a better name for) but, I don't really wanna. :)
I'll be looking at some other remakes that do just that. And...some that don't, but give it a shot.
Our recent MANIAC compare and contrast takes a look at the remake. Take a look if you have not already.