During a recent panel discussion, legendary director John Carpenter said a sequel to The Thing (1982) starring Kurt Russell might just happen.
No one is happier than I am to see Carpenter finally receiving his due as a great director. Carpenter is, without question, a one-of-a-kind talent, the greatest genre director in history. Look at this filmography…
- Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
- Halloween (1978)
- The Fog (1980)
- Escape from New York (1981)
- The Thing (1982)
- Christine (1983)
- Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
- Prince of Darkness (1987)
- They Live (1988)
- In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
- Vampires (1998)
Even Carpenter’s lesser movies, like his remake of Village of the Damned (1995), are so exquisitely directed you lose yourself in all that elegant widescreen splendor. He also happens to be a great screenwriter and composer. His scores for Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, and Escape from New York put that “bad” in badass.
Finally, Carpenter (along with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale) deserves credit for seeing Russell as something more than a dimpled Disney actor.
Why must it be a sequel to The Thing (1982)?
Why mess with perfection?
I can’t begin to imagine the satisfaction Carpenter receives these days from The Thing. Believe it or not, this classic was released in 1982 to terrible box office returns and worse reviews. In every way, it was considered a flop-flop-flop. Watching it today (or in the theater as I did at the time), that reaction seems impossible. Carpenter remade a masterpiece with a masterpiece—a terrifying, brutal, tense, super-cool examination of men under unrelenting pressure. You see, that’s what makes Carpenter’s The Thing work. It’s not the special effects or the scares which are great. No, what makes The Thing an all-timer is watching how a dozen men, each very different from the other, behave under the stress and strain of an impossible situation.
The original Thing From Another World (1951) has the same basic plot but an entirely different set of themes. Thematically, the 1951 version is about the importance of men working together to solve a common problem and the dangers of science going too far. Those are excellent themes and one of the reasons the original version has not aged a day.
Thematically, Carpenter went an entirely different route and delivered what might be the best remake of a classic movie ever made.
***SPOILERS BRUCE WILLIS WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME SPOILERS***
But part of what makes Carpenter’s version perfect is its perfect ending. The only survivors are Childs (the great Keith David) and MacReady (Russell). To kill the alien, they have burned down all things life-sustaining, including shelter. They have saved the world, and their reward is to slowly freeze to death in the Arctic. And even if they could be saved, it can’t happen. Childs might be The Thing. MacReady might be The Thing. We don’t know. They don’t know. So they prepare to die like men—over a stoic bottle of whiskey.
This is a perfect ending for two reasons: it’s pure horror and pure heroism. It’s the horror equivalent of John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards saving his niece only to be rewarded with the realization that the civilized world has no place for the men who civilized it. Edwards walks away without a word of complaint. Childs and MacReady accept a similar fate. Life isn’t fair. Men—real men—do what they gotta do anyway.
A sequel starring Russell will defile that purity.
But I did not come here only to complain.
I have a solution.
If Carpenter wants to make another film (yes, please), how about a remake of the dreadful Halloween Ends (2022)? What a sack of garbage that movie is. We all want a do-over. Instead of messing with perfection, Carpenter should use his gifts to fix stupid—and Halloween Ends is beyond stupid.
Man, I hate Halloween Ends.
What America needs is John Carpenter’s Halloween Ends (2024), where Michael Myers kills a bunch of good-looking women who just happen to be naked.
Anyway, I honestly don’t care if John Carpenter does a Thing sequel. I was just looking for an excuse to write something about him and to reiterate how much Halloween Ends sucks.
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