I swear that somebody in Hollywood is tapping into my brainwaves. Just recently, we had a discussion around the old Critical Hit watercooler about classic movies, and it was brought up just how good John Carpenter’s The Thing still is. I hadn’t seen the 1982 film since before I was a pimply teen, despite the fact that I had a Blu-ray copy in my collection (still wrapped in plastic). So just two days ago, I told my wife that our movie plans for this coming night will see us spending some time in Antarctica with body-snatching aliens and Kurt Russell’s absolutely godlike head of hair.
And now this morning comes news, totally out of the blue, that a reboot of The Thing is in early development. And Carpenter himself is in involved.
The veteran filmmaker revealed the surprising news this weekend past while part of an online panel for the Fantasia International Film Festival (skip to the 27:20 mark in the video above). While speaking about returning to do the soundtrack for the upcoming Halloween Kills – the upcoming sequel to Blumhouse’s very successful revival of Carpenter’s Halloween franchise – Carpenter was asked if he had spoken to Blumhouse boss Jason Blum about perhaps directing anything for the production studio.
I have? I don’t know about that. But we’ve talked about — I think he’s going to be working on The Thing, rebooting The Thing. I’m involved with that. Maybe. Down the road.
This doesn’t sound like there’s too much happening yet, and Variety has since confirmed that things are still very early in development. When asked by the moderator to clarify if this new movie will actually be a remake, prequel, or sequel, Carpenter bluntly responded with “I’m not telling you”. Variety was also unable to find out any further details.
Carpenter’s original film is often mislabeled as a remake itself of 1951’s B–movie The Thing from Another World, however both are actually adaptations of John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella Who Goes There?, about a group of American researchers in a remote base in Antarctica who encounter a parasitic alien entity which assimilates and impersonates its victims. While the 1982 film began as a remake of The Thing from Another World in the 1970s, a string of filmmakers attached to the project all put their own spin on things (including one that was a Moby Dick-like story set underwater).
When Carpenter and screenwriter Bill Lancaster became attached to the production, they hewed things closer to Campbell’s original work (while still adding some of their own touches). The number of characters was reduced immensely, characters like star Kurt Russell’s MacReady were given more contemporary backstories, they introduced the idea of blood tests to determine when somebody had been taken over, and Lancaster removed the original’s flashback storytelling devices and instead dropped audiences right into the action, among other changes.
The film was a gigantic commercial and critical failure upon release, often getting compared unfavourably to E.T., Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Blade Runner, all of which released in the same year. In the following years though, it was reevaluated by critics and audiences alike, being declared a masterpiece of the horror genre, with special praise being heaped on the film’s groundbreaking (but revulsive) practical special effects, which had been lambasted before for their grotesquery.
In 2011, a prequel of the same name starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton was released, but it had tepid box office returns and mixed reviews. Carpenter was not involved at all in its production, but maybe now that he’s seemingly lending his talents to this tale again, it can actually be good? Or maybe even he should leave this classic alone?
Last Updated: August 25, 2020