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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Halloween Hoardefest Poll: Which "Thing" Do You Prefer?

Since having corrective eye surgery this past Friday, I've only had the chance to watch one horror flick straight through, the 1951 sci-fi spookfest The Thing From Another World. As my copy of John Carpenter's 1982 redux is finally out of its shrink wrap (yes, I'm a busy boy...), I anticipate getting to that likewise classic before Halloween arrives.

I love both films on different levels; the original for its suspense, stylishness, fabulous sets and gentle humor. Carpenter's remake is obviously heralded as one of the genre's showcases of gore, yet I'm drawn to its icy hellscape as much as the blood and guts.

I recall reading about someone having a heart attack in the middle of Carpenter's Thing, while others simply walked out in revulsion. I was age 12 when I saw Carpenter's on cable t.v. and Howard Hawks' masterpiece many times over from ages 8 on through courtesy of our local Ghost Host Theater. If you're 35 and above, don't you just miss those weekend horror romps every Saturday night? Life just isn't the same these days...

Which leads me to posit Carpenter's version as one of the very few redos deserving the rare honor of being worthy of the original, unlike most of the remake tidal wave insulting our intelligence these days. Many who ventured into the theaters in 1982 disagreed, but horror history has been kind to Carpenter, much as it now embraces Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining as an iconic fright film of its time. Consider the fact Kubrick's Stephen King adaptation was vilified by the author himself as well as critics lambasting it as a colossal bore.

Personally, I've always loved both films for their atmospherics above their inherent violence. All the twisty, sinewy red stuff of the 1982 Thing may be eye candy if you're a horror freak, but can you not grant how impactful James Arness (later to go on as the immortal Marshall Dillon of Gunsmoke) is in The Thing From Another World, particularly when he's standing on the other side of the door and lunging forward within seconds?

Today's audiences might yawn due to its predictability by modern gauges, however, there's no denying Arness as The Thing is just as cleverly monstrous as a torn-up Siberian husky housing a tentacled badass inside.

That being said, readers, which Thing do you prefer, the 1951 version or 1982?


Metal Mark said...

I think the two are so different that I wouldn't call Carpenter's version a re-make or re-do. Even though we figured Carpenter liked the film because he had Lindsey and Tommy watching it in Halloween. The small basic idea of an outpost finding an alien craft is at the heart of both, but from there on out the two films are way different. The fifties version is good and does a fine job of creating tension through acting and a simple situation however I wouldn't say it's in the top five horror/sc-fi movies of it's decade. Maybe more like in the top fifteen. Carpenter's version is very strong. I would put it in my top five horror films of it's decade so yes it's a better film. The acting is better, the sets and locations work wonders too.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I love them both on an equilbrium...I prefer the original only a hair for introducing the concept and doing wonders with the tech of its time, albeit Carpenter's is one of the best horror films of the doubt Carpenter's da-daaaaaa opening score is creepy and infectious

Metal Mark said...

I remember channel 20 showing the 50's version a lot during Saturday afternoons in the late 70's/early 80's. They would often show two monster movies back to back. I think the first time I saw the Thing it was the first film and I was real into it. Then the second feature was the Giant Claw which is one of the cheapest films of the 50's.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

lol, yeah, the Giant Claw is crap, but by 50s standards excusable fun...I saw the original Thing many times on Ghost Host

Crescent Shield said...

I love both for sure but Carpenter's version captures the spirit of the original story better. Definitely two great classics!!!

dschalek said...

The Carpenter film is one of my all-time favorites. I highly recommend Campbell's original short story, "Who Goes There?", that is the basis for the film.

Another recommended literary precursor to the film, and to "Alien" as well, is A.E. Van Vogt's "The Voyage Of The Space Beagle".