This week, we'll be re-thinking those plane tickets to...
Place: A doomed Antarctic research base in the year 1982 where a group of scientists are about to make a frightening and deadly discovery.
People/characters: John Carpenter's 1982 classic The Thing, the version we're talking about here (there are others), featured an amazing group of character actors playing a mix of blue collar Joes, doctors and scientists dealing with a nightmare come to life. Standouts included Kurt Russell as helicopter pilot R.J. "Mac" MacReady, Wilford Brimley as Dr. Blair, Kieth David as Childs, Richard Masur as Clark, David Clennon as Palmer and Richard Dysart as Dr. Cooper. Oh, and we can't forget Windows, played by Thomas G. Waites.
What Makes it Unique: The movie's practical special effects were some of the most brilliantly rendered and horrifying things seen on screen at the time, but there's plenty more that made the film unique. For me, it's the movie's tone that makes it stand out. The Thing feels claustrophobic, tense and real. The combination of the bleak setting, the subtle performances and the sparse music help make this one of the best and most memorable sci-fi horror flicks of the '80s.
Verdict: Revisit, only because we could use more sci-fi flicks where the tone is more important than the stars or the concept these days. But we don't really have a choice in the matter since a prequel movie that focuses on the Norwegian team that first discovers the alien is already in the works. Word is that A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot writer Eric Heisserer and Battlestar Galactica producer Ron Moore collaborated on the script for director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
Reason: This is a tricky one. I'm sure a lot of sci-fi fans would love to revisit the story and locale of The Thing for another creepy go-round in the middle of the Antarctic. But I doubt anyone wants to see an Alien Vs. Predator-type scenario here, where all of the original film's special elements – the quiet dread, the shocking horror, the inventive low budget look and feel -- are tossed out in favor of an easily marketable and half-baked story that focuses more on spectacle than tone, scares or atmosphere.
Still, a prequel to The Thing could be amazing, especially if the filmmakers pay attention to what worked in the original and also show a little invention here and there.
The best-case scenario would see the movie blending sci-fi and horror with an all-out mystery that keeps us guessing and wondering who we can trust. A likable blue-collar protagonist, like Russell's Mac, would also be key to keeping the audience invested in the story and the outcome, even though we already know where things are headed.
It's hard to dream about what a prequel could add to The Thing; Carpenter's movie is so sparse. Hopefully, the prequel will be inventive but still retain the integrity of the classic original.
What do you want to see in a follow up or prequel to The Thing?