It's been over 30 years since John Carpenter made his version of The Thing and I would submit to any sci-fi/horror enthusiast that this masterpiece is long overdue for a sequel--not a remake or a damn prequel. No disrespect to Matthijis van Heijninges's work but his 2011 prequel didn't cut it. The CGI used in his version didn't achieve that same visceral disgust that John Carpenter had back in 1982. It wasn't too bad, I guess but Carpenter's SFX man (Rob Bottin) created a horrific sight to behold. You'd wipe yourself off with flaming wood if any part of that thing touched you. Regardless of whether you enjoy a good sci-fi/horror flick or not, it can't be argued that John Carpenter created a masterpiece that, unfortunately, ended his career. After the first viewing every critic beat Carpenter down like he owed them money. Needless to say, JC paid dearly for offending everyone so severely.
Now, reluctantly, those same critics have heralded John's movie as nothing short of an epic masterpiece but that praise comes 20 years too late. Even Universal acknowledged that they exercised terrible judgement when they released The Thing merely two weeks after Steven Spielberg's coffee table dog shit of a movie E.T. which every family loved to death. Had they released The Thing several months earlier or the following year after everybody was sick of the E.T. commercials, lunchboxes, toys, games, pajamas and blankets, things would have turned out differently for Carpenter. It so big of Universal to take responsibility for The Thing's flop at the box office some 20 years later.
I walked out of the movie E.T. within 30 minutes when I was a kid. My friends liked it when they went but not me. In fact, it insulted me because if I wanted to watch The Muppet Show or Sesame Street I could've just stayed home and turned on the TV. But when The Thing had come out we got permission from our parents to see it and we were freaked out for life and went back for seconds and thirds. Couldn't get enough. Fans of The Thing can easily recall specific scenes that shook them to the core the most. Fans of E.T. enjoyed the movie in its entirety but really can't remember any particular scene that entertained them. I'm sure there are a few out there who can pull up some memory but not like The Thing.
Universal threw Carpenter under the bus once the dog pile on The Thing began and as a result they basically forced him to make the movie Starman which wasn't a bad flick either but it was a bit of a sleeper at the box office too. Starman was basically a forced apology because John's masterpiece had offended, it seemed, the entire western hemisphere. But it would take more than Starman to save John and unfortunately, it was all blue Mondays for him since. Once any film with John's name attached to it showed up, critics were all to eager to slap him down or, at best, give him a reluctant, backhanded compliment.
The Thing has had a huge afterlife and continues to stand up to the test of time very nicely. So nicely, in fact, that Universal will not allow a remake as they have stated more than once that it is a perfect creation and felt no need to bring it back. That was the only good decision they have made. John Carpenter had spared no expense on SFX, storyline and acting talent and what he was able to achieve with all the proper tools was to convey to the audience that the 2011 version could not was paranoia. He left everyone hanging in the end leaving the door wide open for a sequel. How nice that would have been.
Unfortunately, the bitter relationship between Universal and Carpenter festered badly. Any future projects from Carpenter under Universal's banner were way under-budgeted as a way of exacting petty retribution. This is evidenced by his movie, Prince of Darkness in which he was allotted a paltry $2 million. Even for 1989 that was a very low figure to work with and it was obvious to see. $2 million today wouldn't get you 15 minutes of footage. In 1989 it might get you a whole flick but it certainly wouldn't get you much else. Certainly not talented actors, good special effects and a competent storyline.
For those who actually saw the 2011 version of The Thing, I would encourage you to watch John Carpenter's version from 1989 when you have the time. Watch it at night is the only must in the equation. If you can compare them you find that there really is no comparison at all. CGI has it's advantages but it didn't do the prequel any favors and it certainly didn't do Carpenter's version any justice. It flopped at the box office as the same critics again who hammered Carpenter said the 2011 version was a mere slave to Carpenter's masterpiece--Carpenter's epic masterpiece. It's amazing what 30 years will do.
Carpenter has expressed more than a little enthusiasm for a sequel and so does Universal but just not with Carpenter. He even has a script ready but they aren't having any of it. They want someone different to take the helm if they decide to go that route. 30 years is a long time to hold a grudge but I guess that's how Universal rolls. I guess that's just as well. Best to leave The Thing alone.