Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Thing About The Thing

When I heard that a prequel to John Carpenter's masterpiece, The Thing was coming out, I was hardly thrilled.  Thinking back, though, that was my initial reaction to Carpenter's movie, too.  I know -- blasphemy.  How can one not like The Thing?  It was a perfect movie, untouched by CGI, riddled with paranoia, intelligent and honestly scary.  To think ill of the film is like a Christian saying The Bible isn't all that hot.  It doesn't work, and it isn't said, but I can admit that I was one of the maybe four people on the planet who did not like the movie upon first seeing it.

I saw it on video when it was first released.  I didn't bother going into the theatre to see it.  I liked Carpenter's other films, but this one didn't look great to me, and when I finally saw it my initial reaction was a mere shrug.  I was wrong.

Going back to it years later made me realize how utterly brilliant it is.  If Carpenter only did that film and Halloween he would be more widely worshipped.  Instead, he did bombs like Ghosts of Mars, which did more harm to his career than good.

When I first heard of the new movie, I thought, as did many people, that it was going to be a remake.  That left a really bad taste in my mouth.  Carpenter's film did not need a remake.  I feared that it would be full of CGI and cheap scares.  I vowed to stay away from it.  Then I heard that it wasn't a remake, but more of a prequel.  That seemed more promising.  A prequel actually made sense.  Those who know Carpenter's film (and I believe quite a few more people will be checking it out on Saturday of this week, as the new film opens Friday), know that the beginning of the film picks up right in the middle of some serious action.  Later you learn what has happened to the other camp in that winter wasteland.  There was always a backstory there, and it was one that begged to be told.  That is now happening, but the trailer leaves me a little hesitant to see the film.

My main complaint isn't the one most heard, which seems to be we now know everyone who hosts the Thing.  I don't think that's the case at all.  My complaint is, and this pains me, is that it looks boring.  It doesn't look like it has the same type of spirit as Carpenter's movie, which was, at heart, a drama that revolved around a horror theme.  This looks more like an action film, and not a very exciting one at that.  Admittedly, it would be hard to sell the film the other way, and I have no doubt that everyone involved in this film loves Carpenter's work, so I do hold some hope this Friday's release.  I'm not sure I'll go see it, though.  I'm more interested in The Woman, which looks like it will have a real emotional impact.

I am sure I will see The Thing at some point.  I'm just not sure if I'll go see it in the theatre.  That may be a mistake (such as the one I made with the Carpenter film), but it may also save me a bit of money, which will buffet the possible disappointment.  If I'm wrong -- great.  I'll go catch the inevitable sequel, set after Carpenter's vision, in the theatre a few years from now ... maybe.

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