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31 Monstrous Failures #24: The Thing

October 24th, 2011 No comments

In the interest of fairness, I will admit that I have not seen the subject of today’s entry. But I firmly believe that first-hand experience is unnecessary to declare that the 2011 version of…

The Thing!

…is one of the most unnecessary follow-ups ever.

I’m not the biggest fan of either of the previous adaptations of John W. Campbell, Jr.’s novella Who Goes There? Howard Hawks’ 1951 The Thing from Another World has excellent direction and a terrific score, but it drops the shapechanging alien of the original story in favor of James Arness in Frankenstein makeup. John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing is a more faithful transfer, but it emphasizes gross-out effects at the cost of anyone worth caring about. That said, the ’82 film is well-regarded and it was perhaps inevitable that someone would make another one.

However, rather than a sequel or a remake, the 2011 Thing is a prequel to Carpenter’s movie. Now, what you need to know about the ’82 film is that the initial discovery and revival of the alien (from a crashed spacecraft buried in Antarctic ice) occurred off-screen. Unlike the ’51 version–which detailed the recovery and thawing of The Thing–Carpenter had his characters explore a wrecked Norwegian base where all of the initial running and screaming had already taken place. In other words, the most important thing about the Norwegians was that they were already dead.

That’s why it boggles me that Universal would drop 38 large to tell the story of the hapless Norwegians. Who (SPOILER) all die. If you have seen the ’82 Thing, you know more or less exactly what happens in the ’11 Thing. If you haven’t seen it, you probably couldn’t care less about the Norwegians.*

Apparently a lot of folks agreed, and the new film made only about $11 million domestically in its first week. Some Things are better left alone.

*No offense, Norway.