By Chris Nashawaty
Updated January 26, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST
THE THING Kurt Russell
Credit: Everett Collection

A little piece of me died when I first heard about the new prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982, R, 1 hr., 49 mins.). How could anyone mess with the memory of Kurt Russell’s bearded badass R.J. MacReady and his ragtag posse of paranoid South Pole scientists? Redoing Footloose or The Karate Kid is one thing, but to this sci-fi nerd of a certain age, the Thing reboot felt personal. I’ll admit that the new Thing (2011, R, 1 hr., 43 mins.) isn’t terrible, just unnecessary. You’re better off turning down the lights and rewatching Carpenter’s subzero chiller, which, for my money, remains the best sci-fi/horror hybrid of all time. Why? For starters, it has Russell at his gruff tough-guy peak. If anyone’s gonna sniff out which team member is an alien (and then torch said alien with a flamethrower), it’s MacReady. Second, it’s got an excellent cast of I-know-that-guy supporting actors, like Wilford Brimley as a stir-crazy crackpot and L.A. Law‘s Richard Dysart, who gets his arms turned into bloody stubs in one of the film’s better shocks. Last but not least, there’s Rob Bottin’s gooey, old-school F/X. Do they look dated in our CGI era? A bit. But I’ll always get a giddy, kidlike kick watching things go splat and knowing it wasn’t done with the help of a hard drive. A

The Thing

  • Movie
  • John Carpenter