Classic 80's sci-fi monster returns to theaters

Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars in the movie. (Courtesy: Cnn Newsource/ Universal Pictures)

Lowcountry Movie Night: By Justin Peterson

The Thing

Hello Lowcountry! It has been awhile since my last blog with football season and all, but I hope to get back to posting more frequently.

In recent years there have been a bunch of horror movie remakes from Halloween to Texas Chain Saw Massacre. With the huge amount of computer graphics in movies nowadays, these remakes have been cashing in on amping up the gore factor. But the question is, are they doing justice to the original master pieces?

Just in time for Halloween, Hollywood has unleashed a blast from the past in the form of a prequel to the classic John Carpenter movie The Thing. This 1982 horror sci-fi movie does hold some nostalgic value for me, since I first saw it with some buddies in college.

The original stars Kurt Russell, who is on an arctic expedition with a crew of Americans. The crew eventually stumbles upon an alien/monster, which has the crew members turning against each other since they do not know who is themselves, or the monster.

The Thing featured some fairly crude special effects for 1982 standards. But this only added to the charm of the movie. Also any horror movie set in a snowy landscape, such as Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, has added tension since the characters are faced with such isolation. In the long run, a sci-fi horror series like Alien will always be the more beloved film franchise. But The Thing does stand on its own as a horror classic from the area.

I saw The Thing for the first time on blu-ray with my father, just a few days before I heard there was going to be a prequel. This was defiantly a nostalgic weekend at the box office, with the Footloose remake also coming out. But the question is, does the prequel for The Thing compare to the original horror classic?

With this new The Thing being a prequel, it revolves around the story of the original Norwegian crew that discovered the alien crash site where the The Thing was found. There is some Norwegian spoken throughout the movie with subtitles, but never feels tiring to read. The first thing I was missing from the movie was Kurt Russell-like lead character. Instead, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was casted in the role of the main character. She also stared in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World & played John McClane's daughter in Live Free or Die Hard.

Towards the end of the movie, this change shows beneficial in two areas. She plays a paleontologist, which helps the story grow in a new way because we actually learn more about the biology of the monster/alien. Also, by the end of the movie, Winstead's character actually reminded me a lot of Ripley from Aliens.

The down side, cast wise, is the forgettable supporting actors. In many cases I did not even bother thinking about which character was being killed off, because none of them stood out.

As I said earlier, the special effects in the original movie were crude and grotesque. In this prequel, the special effects are much cleaner, and I do not think the filmmakers went overboard with the CG (computer graphics). I love the original movie, but I do not think of it as being very scary.

This remake succeeds in showing the audience a little more of the horror The Thing is capable of thanks to the CG.

The true nostalgic trip for me came at the very end of the movie as the end credits first started to role. At this point the filmmakers really make The Thing come full circle with the previous movie. Believe me, this creepy moment was a serious payoff for me being a fan of the original.

So far on Rotten Tomatoes, The Thing only has a 34% rating, while the original has a 78% rating. This comes from most critics setting the bar too high for remakes. Most people complain about Hollywood turning out to many remakes, but I see them as a chance for today's generation to be reintroduced to these classic films. The biggest thing lacking in this remake/prequel -- is that it is too similar to the original.

All in all, horror movie junkies looking for a movie to see for Halloween and fans of the original movie will not regret going to see this in the theater. The film is rated "R" due to a few graphic monster sequences, so this movie is not recommended for kids.

Lowcountry Movie Night gives The Thing 3.5 out of 5 stars.