Why don’t we just wait here for a little while…see what happens.MacReady to Childs At The End Of The Thing
It isn’t a new thing to say that The Thing is your favorite movie, or even your favorite horror movie. John Carpenter crafted a masterpiece of horror, tension, and film with his 1982 remake. Yes, it’s a remake for those who don’t know. So next time you say The Thing is your favorite horror movie, but then follow that up with “remakes are destroying cinema”, think a bit about it. The Thing is the remake done right. It adds more to the overall story, it modernizes the Howard Hawkes film, and the story they’re both based on “Who Goes There” by John Campbell. That’s exactly what you want out of a remake. Not a shot-for-shot retread, but something that adds to the story and original film.
The Thing released in theaters June 25th, 1982. It bombed at the box office. There was another film that released on that day, however, another instant classic of its own genre, Blade Runner. The movie with more cuts and director’s cuts than any other I can think of. (I own and have seen at least 6 cuts of the film). Both films were not the box office successes that their studios wanted. They’ve both gone on achieving cult-classic status among their fans. Blade Runner spawned a sequel, Blade Runner 2048 that built on the mythos and story of that first film in a tasteful and almost art-house way.
The Thing got a video game sequel for the Xbox and PlayStation 2. It also received a “pre-make” (prequel/remake) in 2011 that relied a bit too heavily on CG effects. It’s not a terrible remake in the grand scheme of things, but it doesn’t get close to the magic of the 1982 film.
With that background out of the way, how did it happen in human history that two of the most classic sci-fi and horror films released on the same weekend? And what are their legacies?
Starting With Blade Runner
There’s been thousands of articles and videos made about Blade Runner. Having a non-hot take about this film would be impossible. It’s a classic of sci-fi. There should be BBR and ABR as time, (Before Blade Runner and After Blade Runner). There are certain pieces of media that come out, and people just copy it endlessly and it becomes the blueprint for the genre. This is one of those films. Like Michael Mann and Manhunter with cop and crime movies/TV, Blade Runner was the standard for sci-fi going forward.
Depending on who you ask, their opinion of what cut of the film is best can differ. I personally think The Final Cut is the best one, it’s the last one that Ridley Scott made, and the one he put the most into. Funny story about the original Director’s Cut for Blade Runner, it happened by accident. A different cut of the film was accidentally sent to a screening, and all the film nerds in the audience recognized the differences. That led to calls for a Director’s Cut, because of all the issues that Scott ran into on the film. So we got the 1992 version of the film.
From the effects, to the models of the city, all the way to the immortal speech by Rutger Hauer, this is a perfect film. It might not delve as deep into the mythos and story of the original novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick, but it has something for everyone.
What else can you say? Go out and watch every cut of the movie you can, debate the merits with your friends and people on the internet. Not many films offer completely different interpretations of events based on a cut of the film.
The Thing Still Marvels To This Day
There aren’t too many moments in life where I can remember everything changing. I originally wanted to be a sportswriter, and then I saw The Thing. It’s like that for a lot of people. I saw this movie and thought to myself:
“Well, that’s it, I want to make movies like this. Who’s the motherfucker who makes movies like this?”
Turns out it’s John Carpenter. I’ve seen the movie hundreds of times, analyzed it, tried to show it to everyone I can, watched with baited breath as the best scenes come up. It’s one of the truly rewatchable movies out there. Rob Bottin almost died of exhaustion making the creatures for this film and they all pay off. Not one ounce of screen time is wasted here, and it leaves off on one of the best endings on film.
The Thing plays out like a… play. It’s 12 Angry Men with an alien. You’re stuck in a claustrophobic area of the Antarctic, and you see the men on the base picked off one by one. Along the way, you build an attachment to a character that might or might not be the replicant alien. Sound familiar?
Blade Runner does the same thing.
Depending on what cut of the film and what actors you ask (just don’t ask John Carpenter, he doesn’t remember), MacReady, Childs, and Deckard could all be “replicants”.
Coming out of the hell that was 2020, The Thing was an oddly prescient film. COVID-19 was a virus that you could sometimes see that people had, and sometimes couldn’t. Anyone out there could have it, silently, and pass it on. Blair’s (Wilford Brimley) calculations about how fast the population could be taken over by the alien were oddly similar to our lives last year.
It just goes to show how much John Carpenter knocked out how humanity works in this film.
These Two Films Are Forever Linked
Like it, agree with it, or not, these two films are linked and have more in common than you’d think. Instead of a Voight-Kampff test, you have a blood test in The Thing. The replicants are fighting against everything to stay alive and undetected, same with The Thing. If you haven’t watched these films in awhile, they make for one of the best double features out there.
The two films bombed and then slowly started their ascent to the top of their genres. Happy birthday to two of the most influential films out there: The Thing and Blade Runner.