The Thing

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The Thing (1982)

Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, Richard Masur

Synopsis: An American scientific expedition to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic is interrupted by a group of seemingly mad Norwegians pursuing and shooting a dog. The helicopter pursuing the dog explodes, eventually leaving no explanation for the chase. They decide to go to the Norwegian camp to see what is going on over there, they send the camp doctor and helicopter pilot R.J. Macready (Kurt Russell). They find that the camp has been mostly destroyed and all of the other inhabitants are dead in quite a gruesome fashion, they also find a strange burned mash up of two men. They arrive with the specimen and they start to do an autopsy. That evening the dog begins to act strangely and then mutates into an alien creature that starts to consume the other dogs, they quickly learn that this thing is afraid of fire. They realize that this thing is able to perfectly copy the person or animal it consumes and looks to be setting its sights to other parts of Earth. In order to stop this thing they must all work together to stop it before it is able to escape.

Trivia: The Norwegian dog in the film was named Jed. He was a half wolf/half husky breed. Jed was an excellent animal actor, never looking at the camera, the dolly or the crew members. Jed, however, is NOT the dog seen in the beginning chase scene, where the Norwegian is trying shoot him. Per Carpenter’s commentary, this was another dog painted to look like Jed. This film is considered a benchmark in the field of special makeup effects. These effects were created by Rob Bottin, who was only 22 when he started the project.

How scary is this really?: This movie pretty scary and is incredibly freaky. This is my favourite John Carpenter film and it is also his best collaboration with Kurt Russell. The visual effects are amazing in this film setting the standard for new generation monster films. This is a great film to watch in October or in the middle of a snow storm.

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The Thing

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The Thing (2011)

Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Eric Christian Olsen, Trond Espen Seim

Synopsis: Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has traveled to Antarctica for a mysterious expedition at the request of Dr. Sander Halverson (Ulrich Thomsen) who was recommended by Halverson’s assistant Adam (Eric Christian Olsen). Once they arrive they join a Norwegian scientific team led by Dr. Edvard Wolner (Tond Espen Seim) that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, they also discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew’s pilot, Carter (Joel Edgerton), to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can make a perfect copy of anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish.

Trivia: The red axe that ‘Joel Edgerton’ uses and eventually sticks into the wall can be seen still stuck in the wall when the Americans visit the Norwegian camp in the original John Carpenter version. In order to not try to compete with Kurt Russell’s portrayal of the 1982 film’s protagonist, R.J. MacReady, the character of Kate Lloyd was designed to have traits in common with the character Ellen Ripley from the Alien film series. The song Kate is listening to on her headphones is “Who Can It Be Now?”, a song by Australian band Men at Work from their 1981 debut album, “Business as Usual”. The lyrics tell of a paranoid man who hears knocking at his house door and wishes to be left in solitude. This foreshadows the paranoia of the scientists later in the film.

How scary is this really?: If this movie sounds familiar that’s because this is a premake of John Carpenter’s The Thing a much better take on the same premise. While considering this is a prequel the film plays out almost the same way. That being said this is still a nerve wracking film to watch because even a lesser version of the thing is still freaky. While I and almost everyone else prefers Carpenter’s version this is still quite an effective version.