Today I watched The Thing From Another World. I’ve sort of avoided this flick, as John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of my total, all-time favorite movies. This movie, scoring an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes is cited as inspirational for Ridley Scott, Tobe Hooper and, of course, the aforementioned John Carpenter.

The first thing that caught me was the title sequence. “The Thing” was in the same font and revealed the same way as Carpenter did (only with “from another world” underneath it). The earlier version of the film had women in it, which I thought was interesting. The remake is such a male-centric movie, and so gritty.

I thought I’d read “Who Goes There” the short story that all this Thing-y goodness is based on, but I guess I haven’t. In the 1951 version the Thing isn’t a body-consuming, shape shifting monster but a (and the movie pulls this off even though it sounds dorky) vampire vegetable from space. And it works! The premise that it’s made of vegetable matter isn’t hokey at all. Compared to the 1981 version, though, draining blood seems so pedestrian.

The plot’s good, the characters have really fun dialog that make them seem more like real people than the average character I’ve seen this week. The monster, sadly, was the weak point. Not what it did, that was pretty sweet. They kept most of the monster action off screen, which I appreciate. It added to the mystery and suspense. But it was a man in a monster suit. How disappointing, especially when, in the treasure chest of my memory, I hold Rob Bottin’s amazing special effects.

Because it was a rainy Saturday today, I went for a second film, which, time permitting, I will not be counting as one of my 31 movies. I simply had to re-watch my beloved Thing. And it was even better, after watching its predecessor. There were lots of little nods to the original movie, most notably the Norwegians standing around the ship encased in ice in a circle, and using thermite to get it out of the ice. I like that Carpenter’s version doesn’t deal with the messiness of the creature waking up in the ice, or (most importantly) what it looked like in that ice. I’ve always enjoyed wondering if it came in the form of the most recent creature it had assimilated, or if it came as itself. Or is it like someone who dyes their hair so often they don’t even remember their natural color. I fear that the 2011 prequel will tackle these issues, and more.

Look at that hat!

And now, as a final note, I leave you with the totally awesome Clarkesworld short story written by Peter Watts, “The Things”. It’s John Carpenter’s flick as told by the titular Thing. This wasn’t my strongest blog entry, but I kept getting distracted by Thing-related articles online. Has anyone seen the new one? Is it worth watching, or will it only make me sad?