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Face-Off: The Thing (1982) Vs The Thing (2011)

02.02.2012by: Alex Riviello
Welcome to The Face-Off, the ultimate showdown for movies. Every week, the Face-Off takes two movies and compares the hard facts and details for each. We'll decide which film we think was stronger for each section that we break down, but ultimately the decision on which movie wins the overall battle is up to you. After you've read through what you need to know, let us know which movie YOU think is the champion and why! Since THE THING prequel hit dvd this week we've decided to pair it off against the original. One's a horror classic, the other doesn't know if it wants to be a prequel or a remake! Which one will leaves the other one frozen in the artic wilderness? Let's just read for a while... see what happens.
The Director
John Carpenter, a director whose run in the 80s was untouchable. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, STARMAN, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, THEY LIVE- not to mention a little film called HALLOWEEN that kickstarted his career.

But even with all of these genuinely classic films, movies that have all withstood the test of time and still manage to entertain people today, THE THING might be his best. A more claustrophabic film you’ve never seen- the story of a group of men trapped in Antarctica, full of fear and distrust and one pissed off thing, whatever it was.

Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. has only shot a short film called RED RAIN, back in 1996.
The Soundtrack
Silence. Silence is the soundtrack here. Even through most of the main action sequences the soundtrack stays quiet, allowing you to focus on the horror that’s happening and feel even more alone.
The film tries to echo the minimalist score, even by reusing Ennio Morricone’s title track from the origianl, but can’t stop itself from doing much more sweeping Hollywood tracks that only help remind you that you’re in a film. The one pop song in the film is “Who Can It Be Now?” by Men At Work, who Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character is listening to at the very beginning of the film. A little spot on...
The Effects
Rob Bottin’s practical effects work miraculously still holds up beautifully. The dog scene, the defibrillator scene- all just as shocking and effective today. The one part that has aged is the finale, which relies a bit too much on a stop motion-animated figure.
The film has some genuinely impressive effects which are ruined by an over-reliance on CGI. One creature in particular looks terrifying at first glance but then becomes a joke after the camera lingers on it for far too long, clearly showcasing it as the digital being it is.

Do a search online for the practical effects they created for this film and wonder why so much of it was covered up.

The Test
Not certain which of the men left alive are human, they quickly think up a test when things get bad. MacReady realizes that each portion, every cell of The Thing is a separate organism, each with its own will to live, and thus decides to draw blood from everyone in the group. Placing a burning hot length of wire into the blood they quickly determine who is who.
They realize that the creature spits out any artificial parts of your body when it imitates you, including your fillings. So they check everyone’s mouth and determine who’s human, for the most part. Those with impeccable teeth are just as guilty!

Leave it up to the helicopter pilot with the cowboy hat to outwit all the scientists, eh?

The way they kill it
Fire, and lots of it. Mostly supplied by flamethrowers.
Ditto.
The Reaction
"You gotta be fuckin' kidding."
"Burn it!"
The Tension
A film that exudes the feeling of isolation and fear better than most any you can think of. You’re never quite sure who to trust or exactly who is infected at any moment. You feel stuck in the frozen wasteland along with the men, and the tense mood is palpable. You feel their fear.
The Thing seems to reveal itself in dumber situations far more frequently, when it doesn’t have much of a shot of killing someone silently. Perhaps it learned between films that jump scares never work? There’s a small moment of brilliance where they use the language barrier between the Americans and Norwegians to increase the tension but it’s over and done with in one scene.
The Thing (1982)
A more one-sided fight you’d be hard to find, but THE THING (2011) had to compete with a masterpiece. As a monster movie by any other name it would be servicable enough, but the 1982 version rips it to shreds in this fight.
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