The Thing

October 14th 2011
  • Horror/Sci-Fi,
  • R,
  • 102 min,
  • Universal Pictures
  • Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Eric Christian Olsen, Joel Edgerton, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ulrich Thomsen, Jonathan Walker, Stig Henrik Hoff, Kim Bubbs, Trond Espen Seim, Carsten Bjørnlund, Jørgen Langhelle, Jan Gunnar Røise, Kristofer Hivju, Jo Adrian Haavind, Henrik Hoff, Dan Cristofori
  • Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
  • Writers: John W. Campbell Jr., Eric Heisserer, Ronald D. Moore
  • Producers: Marc Abraham, Eric Newman
  • Executive Producers: J. Miles Dale, David Foster, Gabrielle Neimand
  • Art Direction: Patrick Banister
  • Castings: Denise Chamian, Angela Demo
  • Costume Design: Luis Sequeira
  • D.O.P.: Michel Abramowicz
  • Editors: Julian Clarke, Jono Griffith
  • Makeup: Paul Jones
  • Music: Marco Beltrami
  • Production Design: Sean Haworth
  • Set Decoration: Mark Tompkins


A prelude to John Carpenter's classic 1982 film of the same name.

Antarctica: an extraordinary continent of awesome beauty. It is also home to an isolated outpost where a discovery full of scientific possibility becomes a mission of survival when an alien is unearthed by a crew of international scientists.

The shape-shifting creature, accidentally unleashed at this marooned colony, has the ability to turn itself into a perfect replica of any living being. It can look just like you or me, but inside, it remains inhuman. Paranoia spreads like an epidemic among a group of researchers as they're infected, one by one, by a mystery from another planet.

Paleontologist Kate Lloyd has traveled to the desolate region for the expedition of her lifetime. Joining a Norwegian scientific team that has stumbled across an extraterrestrial ship buried in the ice, she discovers an organism that seems to have died in the crash eons ago. But it is about to wake up.

When a simple experiment frees the alien from its frozen prison, Kate must join the crew's pilot, Carter, to keep it from killing them off one at a time. And in this vast, intense land, a parasite that can mimic anything it touches will pit human against human as it tries to survive and flourish.

Basic Information

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Filming Locations: British Columbia, Canada; Trenton, Canada; Toronto, Canada
  • MPAA Warning: Strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language
  • Production Budget: $35 million
  • Production Companies: Strike Entertainment
  • Production Schedule: 15 March 2010 - 17 June 2010

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2011 Guide Analysis: "While "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" won the hearts and wallets of audiences back in 1982, pretty much every other sci-fi feature which opened that Summer has since gone on to be considered not just a genre classic but great works of cinema in their own right despite almost all of them flopping at the time. "Blade Runner," "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" and the original "Tron" were all a part of that group, as was a certain little movie called "The Thing".

Coming off the success of "Halloween" and "Escape from New York", filmmaker John Carpenter delivered this Kurt Russell-led remake of an old Howard Hawks 1951 sci-fi B-movie. Carpenter's version featured a bleak tone, an unsettling score by Ennio Morricone, a strong cast of character actors, a story far more faithful to the original novella, and plenty of truly astounding but grotesque make-up effects from Rob Bottin. Opening two weeks after "E.T." melted hearts, this very different take on alien visitation simply didn't click at the time.

These days however, especially in geek circles, it's considered a cornerstone of the sci-fi and horror genres. Arguably Carpenter's best film, it is often cited as that textbook example of the rare instance where a remake is far superior to the original. While other horror classics have been rebooted in recent years, including much of Carpenter's own filmography, no-one dares a direct re-interpretation of "The Thing" as it simply has too much respect surrounding it.

Yet franchises must grow in order to survive which has lead to this, what's being called a "companion piece" to the original. Producers Marc Abraham and Eric Newman, who were behind the quite good remake of "Dawn of the Dead", thought the idea of a straight up remake was like "paint(ing) a mustache on the Mona Lisa". Taking this 'sort of prequel' approach however doesn't just fill out the backstory of the original but allows some of the same elements to be seen from an entirely different point of view.

Setting the action at the Norwegian base camp several days before the events at the American base camp in the Carpenter original, the story explores the initial discovery of the craft and the creature with the unfolding events leading to the empty and dilapidated base we've already glimpsed along with the escaping dog and helicopter shootout that kickstarted the original. Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. and the production crew researched the original film and novella thoroughly to recreate the Norwegian camp accurately down to the smallest detail.

The plan is also to go old school with the horror effects. Almost all of the effects are being done practically with the minimal CG provided by FX house Image Engine who did the aliens in "District 9". Those few CG elements will be confined to matte paintings and set extensions, along with a few instances of "digitally creating extensions on some of the practical animatronic effects". Like the xenomorph in the original "Alien", the creatures and mutation effects will be used sparingly and shot in ways that don't reveal too much.

Shot in Toronto early last Summer, various Norwegian actors were cast to play the supporting roles, though the key roles will be American characters. Though that does seem like a slight cop out, one benefit of it is the exploiting of the language barrier between the Norwegian and English speaking characters to add to the paranoia and tension. The score is also said to harken back to the original Morricone work.

Will the film work as a whole though? It was supposed to open next month but Universal delayed it a full six months to allow some reshoots, usually not the best sign but not an immediate turnoff either. While no trailer has been released, an early promo trailer has screened at conventions with a bootleg copy ending up online and it looks pretty damn good. The use of the original film's title will lead to confusion and contention, for now though I have to admit I'm intrigued."

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Worldwide Release Dates

  • 13 October 2011: Australia, Hong Kong, Portugal, Singapore, Thailand
  • 14 October 2011: Canada, India, Ireland, Italy, Norway
  • 19 October 2011: France
  • 20 October 2011: Russia
  • 27 October 2011: Hungary
  • 2 November 2011: Belgium
  • 11 November 2011: Mexico
  • 17 November 2011: Germany
  • 2 December 2011: Brazil, UK
  • 8 December 2011: Denmark
  • 9 December 2011: Sweden