John Carpenter’s classic remake of The Thing From Another World is a horror rarity, a remake that surpasses the original. Although if we’re going to get technical about these things, Carpenter’s film is closer to the book ‘Who Goes There?’ by John W. Campbell Jr (under the name Don A. Stuart) which the original was based on.
The prequel/remake is out in cinemas soon, but frankly it can’t possibly better Carpenter’s film which celebrates being 30 years young next year. I remember watching it for the first time, I stayed up late to watch it on TV not fully knowing what I was letting myself in for.
It’s isolated and claustrophobic setting mixed together with a grotesque alien creature that hides in plain sight as one of us. The visual effects for it’s time were groundbreaking, utterly repulsive but stunning. The visual effects were created by Rob Bottin and the legendary Stan Winston, their horrific creations still stand the test of time.
This marked the third time Kurt Russell worked with Carpenter after Elvis and Escape From New York. The Thing was an altogether different film, some critics praised the film for how scary it was but all seemed to find the visual effects disgusting. This was also a rare occasion that Carpenter didn’t compose the score for his film, I’m a sucker for a good Carpenter score.
A modest success at the box office, it was video and laserdisc that The Thing found a much larger audience. There was an edited version for TV, mostly some of the swearing and gore was cut but I remember a alternative ending and the inclusion of some narration at the start of the film. That version has not surfaced on DVD or Blu Ray in the UK, which is a little disappointing as the new version has no new extras. It does however include the feature length documentary The Thing: Terror Takes Shape, which is a must see for any fan. The HD remastered version simply looks stunning, it’s nice to finally have a 1080p scan of the movie available but the lack of additional extras is frustrating.
For me it’s one of the best horror films because it still makes an impact, it’s unsettling and disturbing whilst playing into our fears of what we don’t understand. It could well be Carpenter’s best film as later films such as Escape From L.A (WHY?!), In the Mouth of Madness, Village Of The Dammed (awful remake, shame on you John) and this years The Ward were all bog standard.
The Thing’s legacy is secured regardless of any prequel, sequel, remakes or musicals that might come along. It’s been spoofed and referenced from ‘Spaced’ to ‘Doctor Who’, it even had a video game sequel of sorts that sadly didn’t live up to it’s promise.
If you don’t own it “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me”, it going for a couple of quid on DVD these days and it’s a steal at £6.99 on Blu Ray from most outlets.