Horror review: The Thing

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 14, 2011

By Steve Newton

John Carpenter’s The Thing—his 1982 Antarctic update of a 1951 B movie about an alien organism on a rampage at a remote Arctic outpost—was one of the best horror movies ever made. It was a seamless work of dread-inducing art that boasted a brooding score by Ennio Morricone, dazzlingly gruesome special makeup-FX by Rob Bottin, and star Kurt Russell, who was still basking in the year-old glow of his spot-on portrayal of antihero Snake Plissken in Carpenter’s equally awesome Escape From New York.

In short, The Thing was the type of rare Hollywood release that made you proud to be a horror freak.

Unlike this lousy Thing.

A prequel to Carpenter’s cult classic by Dutch commercial director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.—don’t worry, there’s no point memorizing the spelling—it opens with a trio of Norwegian researchers in the Antarctic discovering a spaceship buried in the ice, the frozen corpse of an alien being nearby. Realizing the colossal import of their find, they haul the body back to the outpost in a huge ice cube and use a drill to awkwardly extract a tissue sample.

Forgetting that ice melts, they then go party. While they’re dancing the Norwegian jig, their prize springs to life, resembling a gooey, spider-crab thingie with flailing octopus arms. After 100,000 years of slumber, it’s understandably cranky.

The alien is able to replicate human DNA and mimic bodies, so the rest of the film sees it repeatedly bursting from the flesh of folks, making screechy noises while morphing into variations of the gooey spider-crab thingie and getting toasted with flamethrowers, which causes more screeching.

And that’s basically it. Since Heijningen already had dibs on The Thing’s hallowed name, he didn’t even bother trying to conjure any of its slow-burning suspense or claustrophobic vibe, instead just blowing his creative wad on gross-out CGI effects, like the one where a vagina with teeth attacks.

In short, it doesn’t make you proud to be a horror freak.

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