Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Lady With a Flamethrower, or Thoughts on The Thing Prequel

The Thing (2011) tried to create an Ellen Ripley scenario with the casting of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate Lloyd, a paleontologist who helps investigate the original crash landing at the Norwegian outpost that MacReady discovers in John Carpenter’s 1982 version.  Technically a prequel, I have no problem with a female lead and the fact that John Carpenter’s The Thing had an all male cast has always been a minor complaint.  Think of how cool it would have been with the addition of, say, Jamie Lee Curtis or Adrienne Barbeau?  And there were also women in Howard Hawk’s original 1951 The Thing From Another World (Margaret Sheridan), so as far as I’m concerned, I’m initially on board.
The key word is initially; you can’t just play Men At Work on a vintage Sony Walkman and convince the audience that we’re suddenly in 1982.  The 1982 version was a creepy psychological thriller with peppered with subversive, genuinely disturbing analog special effects.  This movie is a generic alien monster movie that does its best to pay homage to John Carpenter, up to and including Ennio Morricone’s original theme song, but ultimately fails in its over-reliance on its abundantly distracting digital effects.   We’re in the arctic, and yet this movie has none of the claustrophobia, fear of frostbite or cabin fever of either the 1982 or the 1951 version.  And I’m not complaining, but why do any of these arctic outposts all have flamethrowers in the first place?
 A movie, any movie will succeed or fail on the strength of the writing and performance, special effects are always going to be secondary, a lesson that modern American cinema refuses to learn.  But if you’ve ever wondered how that fire axe ends up in the door, this is the movie for you.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is no stranger to the horror genre, having appeared in  Final Destination 3 (2006), Black Christmas (2006), Death Proof (2007) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).  Also watch out for British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who you may remember as Mr. Eko from Lost, as Derek, the helicopter pilot.


my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).