Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween 2009: The Thing

The Thing is one of my favorite creature features, second only to Alien/Aliens. From the cold and secluded atmosphere to the pulsing drone of the score by Ennio Morricone.

One of the great things about The Thing is that the film doesn't spell everything out for you, and the many unanswered questions which the viewer may raise during the course of the film. Even the actors who played MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) cannot tell you (do not know) 'til this day who is who (or what) at the conclusion of the film.

The FAQ page of Outpost 31 (the ultimate Thing fansite) tries to answer many of these questions. Though I still have a few of my own which are not addressed there;

1) When/how was Palmer assimilated?
I tend to believe that it was Norris' shadow intended to be on the wall in the infamous "whose shadow was on the wall" debate (the actual physical shadow was cast by a crew member, and not one of the actors), when the infected dog enters the room.

2) What is 'The Thing's' TRUE form? (The "Blair Monster" is an amalgamation of everything it had assimilated, other than perhaps it's head which, hypothetically speaking, could have been from an other worldy creature it had assimilated prior to landing on earth). Does it have a "true form"? Or is it merely 'a disease' or biological warfare formulated at a cellular level?

3) Is 'The Thing' consciously malevolent, or is it simply on "auto-pilot" with an innate sense of survival driven towards the repopulation of it's species? If the former is the case, one could make the arguement that the human-race and 'The Thing' aren't so different.

What say you?

The Comics
Like Dark Horse has done for the AVP/Aliens/Predators franchise, one can only hope that they re-release their out-of-print and hard to find comics line for The Thing in their Omnibus format when the "companion piece" of The Thing nears release in movie theaters.
"John Carpenter himself has mentioned (both in print and at public appearances) that if he were to do a sequel he would base it on the Dark Horse comics."
I shot an email off to Dark Horse, and Spencer from Dark Horse Comics responds; "There are currently no plans for such an omnibus, but I will definitely hold onto this email as a tally for suggestions that go to our Editorial dept."
The Dark Horse comics are as follows;
The Thing From Another World and The Climate Of Fear which is a direct follow-up to the film,

(as it stands right now those on Amazon & Ebay tend to ask upwards of $200 for the out-of-print graphic novel!)
Eternal Vows 1-4,

and Questionable Research 1-4.

There also was a video game released for the Playstation 2, Xbox, and Windows platforms in 2002, and (like the Dark Horrse comics The Thing From Another World & Climate Of Fear) is set after The Things ending. It garnered solid reviews, and although I've never played it I'd love to pick it up from the bargain bin or Ebay someday.

In 2007 Universal Studios Orlando ran 'The Thing Assimilation' as part of it's annual Halloween Horror Nights/Official Site. I thought it looked pretty cool, wish I could've seen it!

Here is a music video from french duo Zombie Zombie, which utilized GI Joe action figures with stop motion animation to create an homage to The Thing.

An infected 'The Thing' fan even made his very own 30 minute fan film. I can't give it a thumbs up, but the work he put into fabricating the creatures is astounding!
The Thing fan film Part 1 (of 4)

Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The Thing Prequel

Release date: April 29, 2011
Wikipedia Entry/IMDB Entry

From Wikipedia; In early 2009, Variety and Bloody-Disgusting reported the launch of a project to film a prequel—possibly following MacReady's brother during the events leading up to the opening moments of the 1982 film— with Matthijs van Heijningen as director and Ronald D. Moore as writer (later replaced by Eric Heisserer). In March 2009, Moore described his script as a "companion piece" to Carpenter's film and "not a remake.""We're telling the story of the Norwegian camp that found the Thing before the Kurt Russell group did," he said.

Armed with a budget of 38 million, the prequel is due to be filmed in Toronto, Canada on March 15, 2010 until June 17, 2010.
Relative unknowns, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3D) and Joel Edgerton (Star Wars: Episode II) will play the lead characters of Kate and Sam.
We can only cross our fingers and hope that after all these years, The Thing's legacy doesn't deteriorate into a 'teen slasher' flick.

And as far as remakes and the casting of young actors, from one of the featurettes on the 2005 remake of The Fog;
John Carpenter;
"I've heard several reasons why horror films are being remade. One is I think probably is, the simplest explanation is a lot of kids have heard of these movies but they've never really seen them. Maybe their older brothers or their parents talk about them so it's in their consciousness but they've never really paid attention.
But in general there is a cultural mindset right now that says anything over 15 years old is kind of dead and old fashioned. And so in order to make it viable again we need to take it out and kind of give it a fresh coat of paint and try to revise a corpse."

David Foster (producer of John Carpenter's The Thing, also a producer on the prequel);
"From a business point of view, horror films are young peoples films. So we specifically went out and said, Ok, lets get some popular attractive young actors & actresses in this film."
"It was really a specific plan to go after fresh young faces that are popular with the young people today."

I just hope that wasn't the mindset of whomever the producers are on The Thing prequel. But considering the casting choices, I wouldn't doubt it.

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