An important item of news for those of you who, like me, nurture a passionate and enduring love for John Carpenter's 1982 horror cult classic The Thing (or for those whose interest may be piqued by its skin-crawling tagline "Man is the Warmest Place to Hide"): Universal Pictures yesterday announced that Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s "prequel" (really more of a remake - it even has the same title) will be released April 29th, 2011.
(Some light spoilers ahead!)
Carpenter's film (itself a remake of Howard Hank's 1951 movie) opens on an American expedition of scientists in Antarctica, whose research is interrupted by a bunch of helicopter-borne Norwegians excitedly chasing and shooting at a dog. Strange, right? Their helicopter crashes, and the dog is allowed into the American base, where it promptly mutates and attacks the other dogs. Things begin to appear amiss after a visit to the Norwegian base reveals the aftermath of some kind of catastrophic event; a mangled human body is all that remains. By this point it's too late for our intrepid scientists - the alien creature they've let into their base can take on human form, infecting and hiding in its victims. With few clues as to who can be trusted, paranoia begins to take its toll, even as the body count rises.
Van Heijningen's The Thing appears at the outset to have a similar storyline (which is why I suggested earlier that it may be more of a remake in the guise of a prequel than anything else): an American graduate student, Kate Lloyd, joins a team of Norwegian researchers (those Norwegians? She's doomed!) in Antarctica, where they discover an alien life force, seemingly frozen in the ice. Although I haven't seen van Heijningen's script, I can tell you right now that's probably the point at which things begin to wrong.
Anyway. If any of that sounds interesting to you, and it should, go out and rent the original 1982 The Thing, because it's a goddamn masterpiece. Then find a comfortable balance between optimism and ambivalence towards Heijningen's prequel, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Final Destination 3) and that guy who plays 'Vaugn' on Community, and a handful of other actors you probably haven't heard of. Don't worry about the casting. Kurt Russell (who starred in the original) wasn't a big movie-star before The Thing either. So let's settle for cautious optimism for now.
April 29th, 2011! I'm putting it on my calendar.