by Stefan Abrutat
It’s difficult to consider the movie experiences I treasure from my youth may now be so dated the decision has been made to remake them.
For a random example, one of my favorite movies, the 1949 black & white Ealing Studios comedy Whiskey Galore! could never be remade, in any shape or form, and still retain its impudent charm. Can’t be done, in my humble opinion. Occasionally movies like this come along that are so iconic remaking them is not an homage, it’s an insult. ET is another example. As is Close Encounters or Blade Runner. See what I mean?
I understand tastes and expectations change with time. Factors like advances in audience sophistication require much higher levels of technical aptitude to be displayed onscreen than when I was a lad. The original Star Wars IS dated, for example, which is why Lucas reinvigorated the special effects to find a new audience amongst our increasingly dismissive youth. (I actually applaud him for that, but not, for example, foolishly adding Vader’s final “NOOOOO!!!”)
Now we want flawless CGI and more realistic in-camera effects where we used to rely on story and character to hold our focus. We need more numerous and impressive explosions to sate our lust for spectacle. Films like Transformers 3: the Dark Side of Movies tarnish our multiplex screens with pointless mayhem, and rake in half a billion dollars (which unfortunately means there’ll be more of the same. Much more).
One movie I never thought would require a remake is 1982’s The Thing. Surely director John Carpenter, then at the peak of his powers, created a timeless classic? This movie carries so much weight it’s annually enthusiastically viewed (along with The Shining) by the staff of the US South Pole station after the last flight leaves before the sunless six month dark of winter sets in.
Though the movie opened to mixed reviews and didn’t even break even at the box office, it has since come to be regarded as a near-perfect example of the sci-fi/horror genre. However, when one considers it opened against ET and Blade Runner (the latter of which also performed poorly), it’s fair to assume it got somewhat lost amongst the cutesiness.
Anyway, I recently caught the 2011 remake trailer and my heart sank into my shoes.
So, dutifully brimming with acerbic vitriol, I sat down to write a withering rebuke to the filmmakers for daring to dirty my fondest memories of the first movie to ever scare me shitless.
Then, to my palpable delight, I discovered it’s a prequel, not a remake at all. Oh joy! So happy, I bounced down to the corner store to buy a celebratory six pack.
See, the 1982 movie (ostensibly a remake itself of the 1951 The Thing from Another World) starts out with an alien-infected Alaskan Malamute attempted to evade a pursuing Norwegian helicopter while the occupants try to shoot it. The shots alert a nearby American Antarctic station, who rush to the dog’s aid. One Norwegian inadvertently blows himself up, and the American’s shoot and kill the second. Unable to raise outside help by radio, the Americans investigate the Norwegian station, only to find it burned to the ground, with all personnel either missing or dead. They also discover a hollowed block of ice and a mangled, burned humanoid body, and subsequently a nearby crater containing a spacecraft.
Of course, the Malamute transforms into a great beastie and releases the infection, which spreads into the American base and causes all sorts of high octane, stomach churning chills.
The prequel, it seems, will document the happenings at the Norwegian station. If it’s crafted with anything close to the aplomb of the 1982 version, get ready for the fright of your life.
Rating: R. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. Release date: October 14, 2011.