The pros and cons of the new Thing
I definitely have mixed feelings about the upcoming remake of The Thing. Then again, a lot of people felt the same way when the film was first remade by John Carpenter in 1982.
It’s now a modern classic, but it certainly raised a lot of hackles when it came out, with many critics unable to get past the gore, while a number of people involved with the original Thing felt kind of uncomfortable with the 80's version.
I’m very anti-horror remakes, and anti modern remakes in general, so I’m personally not crazy about The Thing being remade in modern day, but again, many weren’t happy with the 1982 remake at the time either, even though John Carpenter took it in a much different direction than the original.
With the remake, Carpenter didn’t just do movie karaoke, like a lot of filmmakers insist on engaging in today. Simply put: remaking a film scene for scene, shot for shot with little variation is just, well, pointless.
But Carpenter went back to the original source material, the short story the Thing was based on, which a lot of filmmakers claim they’ll do with their remakes, where they’re going to return to the original book, movie, video game, or whatever. Of course, Carpenter also had another ace in the hole with make-up wizard Rob Bottin.
By throwing down the gauntlet with Bottin, and giving him free reign to come up with the most mind-bending special effects he could create, Carpernter also made a state of the art effects film. Replacing all that CGI with stretchy, elastic, rubber looking monsters definitely isn’t appealing to me, and hopefully, like Peter Jackson does, the new Thing will wisely combine real physical effects with CG.
When King Kong was first remade in 1976 by producer Dino De Laurentiis, and when Halloween was recently remade by Rob Zombie, the filmmakers just couldn't win. You may recall the original Kong was so beloved that the ’76 update was written off as big budget schlock, and with Halloween being the Citizen Kane of modern horror, no matter good a movie Zombie made, the shadow of the first film was too strong to step away from.
I’ve also always felt that Zombie is actually capable of making a good movie, and should leave something like a Halloween remake to some Hollywood hack who couldn’t care less about desecrating a classic.
Admittedly, I’m also very attached to a lot of original films, and the memories of loving them growing up. I’m also furious that modern audiences are too lazy to seek out the original movies, and would rather see them updated with modern technology without doing their homework, but again, this is how people felt about the ’82 Thing, as well as the remake of Scarface, which also similarly disgusted audiences, and now has become a modern classic.
Watching the trailer for the new Thing, it seem that the filmmakers definitely got the Arctic darkness and isolation right, but can they recapture the same level of paranoia and fear of the original? Besides the FX, one of the most effective things about the ’82 version was you didn’t know who was who, and paranoia is definitely a big key to the story, because the original was an allegory for the communist witch hunt.
I’m definitely skeptical that the new Thing can deliver the same subtextual and innovative FX punch, but in all fairness, I’m willing to wait, and hope I can be proven wrong. After all, the idea of a Planet of the Apes reboot definitely rubbed me the wrong way as well.