Resin Heroes

The Thing about The Thing about The Thing

A few weeks back I re-watched the 1982 The Thing for the dozenth(?) hundredth(?) time. I was struck that three decades after its initial release The Thing still works from story to cast to setting and that the special effects of the movie didn’t look dated in the least. And last fall I re-watched the original 1951 The Thing From Another World and it’s still one of my favorites too. What’s not to love in the original’s post-WWII “aww-shucks good ol’ American know-how can whip anything when we put pull together” theme?

And last week I caught the 2011 The Thing on cable after seeing it for the first time last year. While I love the other two Thing movies I found the 2011 version just okay. It’s nothing spectacular and it didn’t have anything in it that stuck with me after the viewing.


The Thing From Another World

The Thing From Another World was hugely influential for its time. It spawned a whole plethora of mainstream monster movies the likes of The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), The Blob (1958) and Them! (1954) to name a few. And the ’82 The Thing, though not initially a successful movie, was influential in its own way too. The tone and realistic special effects of The Thing would go on to influence a whole generation of movies in the 1980s and to this day.

(What’s interesting is that the three movies were all made about 30 years apart; 32 years from the original to the ’82 version then 29 from the ’82 to the ’11.)

The Thing (1982)

The Thing (1982)

What works so well in the ’82 The Thing is the creators of that movie decided to do something different than in the original film. Here, the idea of a group of people being cut off from the outside world in a barren wintery waste is about all that carried over from The Thing From Another World to this movie. And while the original is full of 1950s fears about our way of life being threatened by an outside force, the 1980s is about the terror of infection along with the paranoia of the unknown. Mix that with the gruesome special effects that had to have had audience back in ’82 squirming in their seats and what you’ve got left are the makings of a classic film.

And how would the creators of the ’11 The Thing separate that movie from what came before? How would they innovate? Actually, they wouldn’t innovate whatsoever and instead played it safe. While both the computer and practical special effects of the ’11 The Thing work to a good effect, they’re not too different than similar movies of the day. And, if I’m being honest here, I actually preferred the practical effects of the ’82 The Thing to the ’11 hyperkenetic-split-faced-spatter-go-go-go effects there.

The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011)

Rather than doing something brand new like was done in The Thing From Another World or innovative with the story and special effects as the ’82 The Thing was the creators of the ’11 The Thing decided to play it safe and riff on what came before. If there were gruesome transformations in the ’82 The Thing, then there would be REALLY gruesome transformations in the ’11 The Thing. If the monster of the ’82 The Thing was weird and scary, then the monster of the ’11 The Thing would be REALLY weird and REALLY scary.

And since the story of the ’11 The Thing is essentially just a version on the ’82 The Thing, once you’ve seen the ’82 version you can see everything coming in the ’11 version a mile away. The ’11 The Thing isn’t a bad movie, it’s just one of those movies you can watch on fast-forward and not miss anything critical. 😉

thing_poster_01But honestly, the ’11 The Thing is a good case for how most movies these days are made. They borrow from what worked in the past and try to build on it. But while they use the best parts of what came before these modern movies like the ’11 The Thing are not quite able to build on this foundation to create something new and improved and are doomed to feel like the ultimate remix movie just playing the best parts of what came before over and over and over again.

It’s been 62 years since the release of The Thing From Another World and 31 since the ’82 The Thing and people, me included, are still talking about, dissecting and analyzing these movies. It’s been two years since the release of the ’11 The Thing and does anyone care about that movie? Will anyone care about the ’11 The Thing in 32 or 62 years hence? I think the answer to all those questions is a simple “no.”

The Thing From Another World: A+
The Thing (1982): A+
The Thing (2011): B-