John Carpenter’s Remake of The Thing Wasn’t a Remake

There seems to be some disagreement and misinterpretation on John Carpenter’s The Thing. I’ve read it online, spoken about the movie with other fans (as it happens to be a personal favorite), and keep hearing how it was a remake of The Thing from Another World. As a hardcore fan of these movies, I felt compelled to write about them, and how this popular opinion is contrary to what appear to be facts.

There are three renditions of the film, The Thing. John Carpenter’s 1982 version is arguably the most popular, which by majority opinion is a remake of the original, The Thing from Another World, originally released in 1951. Another addition to the franchise was introduced in 2011, which was thought (depending on opinion) to be a prequel of John Carpenter’s or second remake of the original 1951 classic.


The Thing from Another World 1951


The Thing 1982


The Thing 2011


So there are two remakes for the same film? Sure, it’s not unlike Hollywood to rehash the same thing (pun intended) more than a few times, but this isn’t the case. In the original 1951 story, scientists uncover an alien spacecraft buried under ice near an arctic research station where they work. They find an extraterrestrial pilot frozen in the ice and dig it out. The being accidentally gets thawed out, and things go downhill from there.

The story of John Carpenter’s 1982 version is in fact a sequel to the original. In the story, American scientists working at a different arctic research facility are startled by a helicopter coming toward their base, which is chasing a dog, a man firing at it with a rifle. The dog escapes unscathed and the helicopter pilot is killed in an accidental explosion while trying to kill the dog with a grenade.

When the American scientists go to the other research base to investigate the strange behavior of the unexpected visitors, they find the place deserted and mostly destroyed. They also find video footage of the scientists finding the spacecraft and the chunk of ice the creature originally escaped from.

This tells us that this is in fact a sequel, not a remake. It follows events which take place after the original film.

The 2011 version, again considered a remake, technically is. But not of the film most people associate it with. It’s not a remake of John Carpenter’s film, but of the original 1951 version. It’s the story of the Norwegian scientists who found and unleashed the alien in the first place. The movie even ends with the dog escaping (presumably thought to be the alien creature) while being chased by a helicopter. This movie could be considered a prequel to John Carpenter’s version, if anything, as it ties the events together more closely than the original 1951 version.

I hope this makes you want to watch and enjoy these movies again (or for the first time if you haven’t seen them), if only to see for yourself how they are truly connected.

2 thoughts on “John Carpenter’s Remake of The Thing Wasn’t a Remake

  1. I’ve seen them all and you’re absolutely right. Though I still find John Carpenter’s version, and it’s subsequent prequel reboot, lacking compared to the 1951 film. Personally, while I know they share a similar story line, inspiration, and title, I wouldn’t lump ‘The Thing from Another World’ in with the other two. It comes from an era of film making that didn’t hunt for a proverbial golden cow or birth a multitude of greater reaching calves in its wake. It simply was what it was, and that’s all it was ever intended to be. 😉


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