Here’s The Thing

Trailers are already popping up for the new reboot of The Thing, which is actually the second remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic.

The film was adapted from the sci-fi short story, Who Goes There?, written by Joseph Campbell, and like a lot of sci-fi in the ’50’s, The Thing was a thinly veiled allegory to McCarthyism and the Red Scare. 

The original Thing is one of the most influential films in genre history, and many of the best horror/sci-fi directors grew up under its spell. Not to mention, it greatly influenced Steven Spielberg’s decision to hide the shark in Jaws because the Thing wasn’t actually seen in the film until pretty late in the game.

As noted above, the current reboot is a reinterpretation of John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing – which is now considered a classic. However, the film was initially a critical and box office disaster when it came out in the summer of 1982. 

Carpenter’s Thing broke tremendous ground with the special make-up effects of Rob Bottin, and the film was damn scary, probably Carpenter’s most fulfilled promise as a director post-Halloween.

It’s easy to say when a movie doesn’t do well that a studio buried it, which can often be the case when a film invokes controversy, like Fight Club, but Universal actually thought they had a big movie with The Thing and were behind it all the way…until E.T. came along.

“I was already counting on my second home in the South of France,” says David Foster, who produced The Thing. “It was disappointing at the box office for sure. I could never figure out why. I thought it was a well made movie, a really good  monster movie, that’s what I thought we were making.”

Audiences at the time couldn’t get past the gore and goo in the film, and many thought it was blasphemous that Carpenter would remake a classic of ’50s sci-fi with so much gore. 

Out of all the films he directed, Carpenter is most proud of The Thing, and he was devastated by its failure.

But as often happens when a film doesn’t hit right away, The Thing’s audience grew on home video and cable, and is now (rightly) considered a classic.

Former Universal President Thom Mount says, “If we found a classic picture like The Thing that we thought we could remake and in some way upgrade, we were all over that. Generally I hate remaking films, but in that case I thought we did a great job.

“It didn’t bother me to remake The Thing because I thought the original was kind of clumsy, and there was a way to remake it that was much more vital and edgy and interesting. I think the remake’s much better than the original, I loved what everybody did with it. The direction was terrific, the effects at the time were cutting edge, and it’s a damn scary movie.”