A blog exploring the sexy, shocking, surreal, and silly side of horror films.

October 13, 2011

History Repeating: THE THING about Bad Reviews

The reviews for the prequel/remake of John Carpenter's The Thing are starting to come in. Is anyone else getting a strong feeling of deja vu here? Some THING strange is going on.

On the eve of its release, the 2011 version of The Thing is already garnering plenty of negative criticism from mainstream critics and horror critics. Funnily enough, I'm reminded of how Carpenter's The Thing was also raked over the coals and considered a flop even though it's now held as a classic of horror in the 80s.

No one can predict whether The Thing (prequel) is cursed to repeat the history of Carpenter's version, but I have noticed something peculiar going on. In particular, let's look at Vincent Canby's 1982 review of Carpenter's film for The New York Times and compare it to Brad Miska's review of the prequel for Bloody Disgusting. In both, the critics are complaining about essentially the exact same things. See for yourself.

THE THING (1982) - "Like all such movies that don't trust themselves to keep an audience interested by legitimate dramatic means, ''The Thing'' shows us too much of ''the thing'' too soon, so that it has no place to go" (CANBY)

THE THING (2011) - "Early in The Thing, the initial creature is barely displayed. . . . Only, as the minutes pass, the filmmakers feel the need to show more and more causing an alarming amount of CGI to vomit across the screen" (MISKA)

THE THING (1982) - "[The Thing], which opens today at the Rivoli and other theaters, is too phony looking to be disgusting. It qualifies only as instant junk." (CANBY)

THE THING (2011) - "[T]here's literally a full-on CG shot of the creature standing 12 feet tall. It looked like something out of "Gears of War" or "Doom", like re-rendered video game footage. . . . Universal's new The Thing already looks more dated than Carpenter's, and it's not even in theaters as of this writing!" (MISKA)

THE THING (1982) - "a virtually storyless feature composed of lots of laboratoryconcocted special effects" (CANBY)

THE THING (2011) - "2011 crap that's nothing more than a boring CGI promo-reel" (MISKA)

THE THING (1982) - "Kurt Russell, Richard Dysart, A. Wilfred Bramley, T.K. Carter, Peter Maloney, David Clennon and other worthy people appear on the screen, but there's not a single character to act. All that the performers are required to do is to react with shock and terror from time to time" (CANBY)

THE THING (2011) - "It even sucks for the actors (and causes weak performances) because with CG there isn't anything physical for them to react to" (MISKA)

THE THING (1982) - "For the record, it should be immediately pointed out that this new film bears only a superficial resemblance to Howard Hawks's 1951 classic ''The Thing,'' though both were inspired by the same source material, John W. Campbell Jr.'s story ''Who Goes There?'' The Hawks film . . . is something of a masterpiece of understatement. It's also funny. The new ''Thing'' has been written with no great style by Bill Lancaster and directed by Mr. Carpenter without apparent energy or the ability to share his interest with us." (CANBY)

THE THING (2011) - "Everything that was great about the 1982 version (it was a small, claustrophobic film with strong characters and awesome special effects) is ignored" (MISKA)

Now I ask you, is history repeating? Or did they watch the same damn movie?


  1. Haha, great analysis Zed! It is eerie how similar the reviews are - I couldn't help but notice that every comlaint Miska had originated with the CGI effects.

    I wonder if it was more his aversion to the effects and less to the film itself which might have skewed his perception of the film.

    I'll still go see it personally to judge for myself, but it's hard to ignore the general consensus that the new film is a letdown on almost every level. :(

  2. Hopefully Miska is just as wrong as Canby was.

  3. This is weird. Is it even weirder if I say I like the CG effects on the THING prequel? I mean it's no torch-holder to the 82 Carpenter film, but at least they're visually fluid.

    (and finally, we get to see "two-face"!...that's what I call that "then-frozen-in-82-now-unfrozen-in-011" alien mutant.



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