Just a few weeks shy of the 29th anniversary of the release of John Carpenter's masterful reinvention of The Thing (From Another World), Universal will give it another go with a prequel on April 29, 2011. Forgoing more spot-on titles such as The Thing Begins or Landing of The Thing, the film will just be known as The Thing so as to not confuse it with Carpenter's film, The Thing.
This Thing, though, is likely to cause more pause amongst movie fans than most remakes these days. The 1982 film, which owed more to John W. Campbell Jr.'s short story than Howard Hawks' 1951 version, was not only blasted by critics at the time but was also the victim of being a dark, violent Johnny-come-lately in a sci-fi/horror-rich summer. Opening on June 25, the same day as another little film called Blade Runner that would suffer the same fate, The Thing was already just a few weeks removed from The Road Warrior, Poltergeist, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Firefox. Oh yeah, and E.T. opened two weeks earlier too. Since then, The Thing is held by science-fiction fans in particular as a bonafide classic that stands along or even surpasses some of those titles.
Now its a new generation's turn to put up or shut up even if the old one has plenty of reasons to be skeptical. Retouching our beloved Thing is one thing; for starters there is something new that John Carpenter didn't offer: Females. The all-male cast is now being accentuated with Canadian television actress, Kim Bubbs, and being led by Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's Ramona herself, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as a grad student investigating the Antarctic alien craft. This should not come as a positive decision to anyone who saw Kate Beckinsale in Whiteout. Joel Edgerton made nice impressions in crime thrillers The Square and the upcoming Animal Kingdom, but will we see anyone as that helicopter pilot but Kurt Russell's MacReady? Especially if he doesn't sport that kickin' hat and great, big bushy beard. The fine Danish actor, Ulrich Thomsen, will play the scientist that Winstead's Kate Lloyd will butt heads with. I suppose Stellan Skarsgård wasn't available.
Cast aside (which also includes Eric Christian Olsen and Lost's Mr. Eko, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) , the remake machine has a habit of choosing unproven directors to helm the ship and the results have been less than inspiring. Do you need the Platinum Dunes list again? Andrew Douglas' The Amityville Horror, Dave Meyers' The Hitcher and Marcus Nispel's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre AND Friday the 13th. Now we will have Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s The Thing, who like the others had not one narrative feature credit to their record - unless you count Meyers' Eddie Griffin/Master P vehicle, Foolish.
Just a few weeks ago, audiences were treated to the perfect storm of rebooted awfulness with A Nightmare on Elm Street. Director Samuel Bayer fits right into the above category and was certainly not assisted by an atrocious script credited to Wesley Strick and first-timer Eric Heisserer, whose second effort (along with Battlestar Galactica rebooter, Ronald D. Moore) is co-writing 2011's The Thing. Opening on the same weekend that A Nightmare On Elm Street did. I guess all we can do is just sit here for a while and see what happens.