16 October 2011

The Thing v The Thing

(Not particularly spoilery)

I had never seen John Carpenter's The Thing, so in deciding whether to go see the prequel, not-John-Carpenter's The Thing, I decided not to watch JC's The Thing first, but instead watch it after.  Random thoughts:

- Special effects have come a long, long way.

- JC's The Thing is better than NJC's The Thing (at least at the beginning), but neither of them are movies I'm likely to ever bother watching again.

- The way the dog behaved (before the reveal) in JC's The Thing was incredible - easily the best thing in either movie. 

- The 'intelligent infiltration' aspect fell away in NJC's The Thing, and was the lesser movie because of that, but even in JC's The Thing (given that 'contamination' can apparently be managed with tiny amounts of exposure), our alien creature was far too inclined to flail partially formed limbs and rubber hoses (ah, tentacles) at every opportunity.  In both movies, the alien's behaviour is highly counter-productive to its own survival.

- There was a remarkable contrast in the way that the "infiltration announcement" was treated in the movies.  In JC's The Thing, an older male scientist announces that the alien is able to replicate the appearance of other living creatures.  Response: complete, immediate acceptance.  In NJC's The Thing, a young female scientist (specially flown in apparently for her ability to drawn lines on ice and nothing else) makes the same announcement.  Response: complete, immediate dismissal.

- Damn, people are dumb!  So you cut a huge alien creature out of the ice, and it breaks out and runs off.  And you go looking for it in pairs.  In the dark.  Without weapons.  Did you SEE the size of the claws on that thing?

On the whole JC's The Thing was more powerful (despite some truly bad special effects), but neither movie really made me care about any of these people.


  1. More than slightly spoilery comments, but only for the 1982 movie:

    The Carpenter Thing is one of my favourite movies - even the now-quaint effects cannot dampen my love for it (at the time they were, of course, cutting-edge and scary as all hell, to my age-thirteen eyes).

    It's been a while since I watched it but one of the reasons I remember liking it so much is that the humans were pretty smart about dealing with the situation, and only failed due to underestimating their opponent. (And they certainly do fail: the final scene is open to multiple interpretations, but the only optimistic one - and the least likely - is that it's two humans waiting to die together). As for whether the audience cares for any of them - eh, I'll have to watch it again, but I recall most of them getting about as much characterisation as they needed and no more.

    I suspect you do the creature a disservice though. It knows throughout almost the entire story that it has an ace in the hole which guarantees its victory as long as the humans remain distracted. Its entire purpose is to keep the base in a state of panic and paranoia, so that they won't discover what it's really up to. Hence the very distracting use of toothy maws and inappropriate spider-legs.

    ...at least, that's how my interpretation of it has evolved over the years.

    It is true that the dog puts in the most outstanding performance in the entire film, however. I don't even think that's a reflection on the human actors, but man, if there were Animal Oscars that dog would have been a safe bet.

  2. The "reject what the scientist says" is a completely overused trope nowadays. I'm always pleasantly surprised when the science is accepted by the non-scientist as "specialist information that I can use". I'm also pleasantly surprised when the scientist has limits to what they know and are willing to express those limits - superscientists are kinda unrealistic. Maybe thats why the rejection thing - too many scientists making too many large and unbacked up statements.

  3. I saw the flower in your background and immediately thought - fungal spore - see blue pic in the collage on this page

    This is what I get for marking a fungi prac and reading your blog at the same time

  4. @ Jenny - Bah, scientists, always looking at things from their weird scientific viewpoints. Did you like Isten Notra in Touchstone, btw? I think of her as my "Wise Old Jenny Who Knows What To Do" (except rather not like you ;).

    @ Dave - I thoroughly liked JC's The Thing up until the dog reveal. Right up till then I thought it was fantastic. That slow, controlled walk into the cage - incredible.

  5. The original Thing has one of my favourite scenes ever- the blood testing scene. It's tense, terrifying and hilarious all at once. Still haven't gotten out to see the NJC The Thing yet, hopefully tomorrow!

  6. I find her to be a very satisfactory character. She's got the lovely - I've already proven myself - laid back attitude along with the nurturing bit. I know scientists like that and appreciate them.


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