Movies that Piss me Off (Part Two)

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Okay, so here we go. The Thing.

Actually, a pit stop. Right now I am watching the remake of the Evil Dead. I’m a big fan of the Evil Dead series and I wasn’t thrilled to learn of this film’s existence. Seventy minutes in and it has a bunch of lines from the original, copied scenes too, and other gimmicks you’d expect from a remake. But it is actually decent. The idea of someone trying to ‘cold turkey’ from drugs being a comparison with demonic possession is an interesting one. Yes, it is another remake I don’t think needs to exist, but seeing as it does, I don’t mind it too much. I won’t watch this one nearly as many times as I have the original, but hey, I won’t avoid it. Probably.

So back to the Thing. Oh how I despise thee. One of the main reasons being your name. They couldn’t even bother to use something else. So now, when I say the Thing is one of my favourite movies, I have to specify that I mean the John Carpenter movie, not the remake. Ah ha, someone might say. It isn’t a remake, it is a prequel. True, I would respond, but it is pretty much just a remake, and it was meant to be one at first. Maybe if it had been I wouldn’t have minded so much. But the fact it is a prequel…. Well, that just pisses me off to no end (Big Trouble reference).

Now the Thing, the first one, is a great movie. Claustrophobic. Paranoid. Scifi and horror. A cluster of characters who stand out, butt heads and play off each other. Childs, the hothead. Palmer, the weed-smoking conspiracy theorist. Blair, the scientist who sees it coming. Clark, the man who seems indifferent to anyone but the dogs. McReady, the loner in his shack who hates losing to his computer. The soundtrack sends shivers down me. I mean it really does. I love that …. dun dun … dun dun … that Ennico Morricone came up with.

When it comes to the new one, I have little idea of who and what the characters are. Lars stood out, who is a combination of Childs and Clark. But this movie isn’t interested in giving you a group of intriguing or appealing, or even unappealing, individuals for you to fear for as their numbers dwindle. No, it is Norwegian No. 3 getting killed. Then Norwegian No. 7 turns out to be the Thing and dealt with, yet maybe No. 4 and No. 8 are too. Who knows? Who cares?

We have a young American woman, an arrogant Danish man, and some others who are kind of notable, like a British bloke who is all British like. Plus Lars. But none of it matters. This movie is a copy of the first with none of the atmosphere or characters. Much like the other remakes I have mentioned. We get an attempt at the brilliant testing scene with people being checked for fillings. As much as I did like Lars a bit, seeing him shove a flamethrower in men’s faces was just comical. Surprised he didn’t singe his own beard. Also the filling thing doesn’t make much sense. Wouldn’t the Thing have gaps in the teeth to put them back in? Couldn’t it reshape itself to do so? Shouldn’t it know, having absorbed someone and knowing what they know, what those things are or even maybe think about removing evidence?

Or maybe the fact I have no fillings makes me biased against the test. Damn dental bigotry!

This is a dumb movie that does nothing but throw random jumps and deaths at the audience. The main character cannot carry it either. Her rise to leadership is poorly executed. She, a young American female, ends up telling this bunch of beardy Scandinavians what to do. No. You need to earn that. I almost bought her team up with Lars, although her being sent off with the single person who spoke no English was daft, not mentioning how risky it was to go somewhere with just one other. I’m pretty sure they had even declared not to go anywhere with someone else.

Going back to the proper Thing, we see McReady take charge. Why? Well there is a command structure there but it is quickly overthrown by suspicion and paranoia. Garry was a weak leader anyway, while the scientific minds of Blair and Copper are deemed unreliable for different reasons. So we have three alpha males enter the fray: McReady, Childs and Clark. Yet Clark is too introverted to take charge; the strong, silent type. Childs wants it, he reaches for Garry’s gun. Clark stops him, threatening him with his knife. MacReady takes the gun. Mac is a loner and often seems fed up with being asked questions or to do things. But now someone has to take charge, and it is not going to be Childs. If anything, Mac’s and Clark’s issue with Childs settles the matter, and they’re not fond of each other either. Mac becomes the new leader due to others being set aside, his own qualities and the group dynamic. Even then, his authority is challenged and he only gets to oversee the test thanks to a bundle of dynamite.

In the prequel (remake!) there is none of this. She just starts calling the shots. Why? Maybe because she’s the American and we need American audiences to cheer someone on, and who could cheer on foreigners? Maybe because she’s the recognisable star (kind of)? Maybe it was a feminism thing? Doesn’t matter. It could be all three or none. You need it to work within the world you have set, within the group, due to character development and interaction. None of that occurs. There is more reason for the others there to not listen to her. But the foreigner they don’t know starts giving orders because why not? Just like the movie overall. Things happen because things have to happen. Who cares about originality, creativity, character development or believability?

However, as I mentioned earlier, this movie would be a mere annoyance – much like other Carpenter remakes such as Assault on Precinct 13 and the Fog – if it was just a remake. The fact they moved it to being a prequel is what bothers me. If you have never watched these movies, if you’re young or new to scifi/horror, and you feel like checking out the Thing, you might want to watch them in order. You may sit down, check out the prequel, then the Carpenter version. If you do, you lose out. You’ll watch an average movie and then sit and watch something special, only by then it will feel like deja vu. You’ll see the same shit. What’s worse, the eerie visit to the Norwegian camp made by Mac and Doc won’t mean anything. That section is something that was never meant to be told. That visit is foreshadowing, warning the characters as well as the audience of what is to come, and yet it is also meant to baffle. They see a dead man, wrists and throat slit, and ask themselves what could have driven him to it, and so do you. They see something weird, almost human, and cannot fathom what it might be. As do you, the audience. But with the prequel watched, the characters’ shocked confusion is not echoed by us. You know what this is all about, and yet nothing in that prequel really explained anything. The Brit character who slit himself open, well, no idea why he did that. The visit to the Norwegians is meant to set up the rest of the tale. It is foreshadowing. This prequel robs a first time viewer of that, as well as hampers the film overall.

So fuck the Thing prequel. Again, I don’t hate this miserable work. It is shallow and dull and predictable, but nothing more. But I do resent, strongly, the damage it has done to a film I revere.

Oh, and Scary Movie 5 was really bad. I’m a sucker for spoofs and can watch the others, but that one was just shit. Shit, I say!


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