In today’s post, the very first bonus post of the blog, I share my opinions on the Hollywood adaptations of the 1939 Best Novella, “Who Goes There?”
The Thing from Another World (1951)
To start, this is the least faithful of the three in terms of adaptation. Directed by Christian Nyby, the film only borrows the setting and the creature’s moniker, “The Thing,” from the novella. For that, the movie lacks what I enjoyed most about the story, that being the paranoia and human intrigue. The creature in the film has plant-based physiology and loses its ability for shapeshifting. It spends much of the movie openly terrorizing the inhabitants of the base. In my opinion, the movie works better as a straight-forward alien invasion flick than the nuanced story presented in the original.
The Thing (1982)
Of the three films today, I found this version to be the most enjoyable and closest in terms of adaptation. Helmed by famed director, John Carpenter, the movie flopped upon initial release and later gained a cult following upon home release. Whereas we see a much more faithful creature in this film compared to the 1951 attempt, the striking (and often violent) imagery takes center stage. At a time when CGI was unheard of, the crew brought to life “the Thing” with practical effects and puppetry. Though some of the graphics haven’t aged well (I’ll admit I laughed a few times), the scenes with the creature mid-transformation no doubt caused quite a few nightmares to those lucky (or unlucky) children who got to watch it back then. If you had to watch one of the three, I highly recommend this version as the definitive retelling.
The Thing (2011)
Again we find ourselves with a more faithful version of the novella, though the film falters in other regards. Directed by Matthis van Heijningen Jr., this film acts as a prequel to John Carpenter’s cult classic. It tells the story of the members of the Norwegian research station who uncover the creature that later terrorizes the characters of the previous movie. Unfortunately, the movie spends too much effort trying to capture the spark of its predecessor. The CGI is a pale comparison to the artistry that was the puppets, and the writers avoided any risks in storytelling. You are left with an unsatisfactory rehash that couldn’t exceed the classic.
I apologize for the delay. I meant to have this post up and ready by last week, but per usual, life got in the way. With one month completed on the project, I had the time to reflect on the experience and look forward. Changes are coming to the project (I’ll announce them later in the week), but for now, go out enjoy some science fiction.
I’ll see you next time!