I'm a big fan of the 1982 remake of "The Thing." It is one of my all-time favorite movies. (The original "Thing" was actually called "The Thing from Another World," from 1951.) When I heard that "The Thing" was going to be remade, again, in 2011, I was pretty stoked. I figured that special effects had come pretty far in 30 years and that a fresher, more sophisticated look might be a nice touch.
I missed catching the new remake in the theaters last year, but rented it on DVD a few days ago. It was good. It stayed true to the aesthetic and spirit of its progenitor, but I'll still give the nod to John Carpenter's '82 version as the one I prefer.
The interesting thing is this remake towed the line between being a prequel and a remake. I wonder if it would have been better if they just committed to one or the other rather than the hybrid they actually made.
It's a remake because they kept the title the same, and they kept specific scenes and elements of the '82 version that long time fans would recognize. But it's a prequel because the overarching story is slightly different. It's the story that directly sets up and leads into the '82 version. In fact, they sewed together the two plots quite nicely.
Here's how the two break down...
2011 version: In the early 1980s, a Norwegian research team in Antarctica accidentally discovers a buried alien spacecraft and the remains of one of its passengers under the ice and snow. They bring the "Thing" back to their base to study it, and it begins to wreak havoc on the isolated group of scientists and staff.
1982 version: Picks up right where the prior story leaves off, with a neighboring American base discovering the distressed and mutilated remains of the Norwegian base and the extraterrestrial wreckage. They, too, become infected by the "Thing." Similarly gross and deformed alien violence ensues.
So if you're new to both movies, the plots are slightly different, but from sequence to sequence, the movies are quite similar. The producers of the 2011 remake closely followed the formula that made the Carpenter's version successful.
If you've seen neither, start with the 2011 "Thing," and follow it with the 1982 version. (The '51 version is interesting and entertaining -- considering its age -- but the two new ones were frankly better, scarier, gorier, and overall cooler interpretations of the original.)
If you don't like horror or sci-fi, this won't be your cup of tea. If you do, I HIGHLY recommend both "Things." The '82 has a better pace and acting and is overall the superior movie. But the 2011 version has the benefit of better effects and higher quality of production. But it's not far behind its predecessor.
These two "Things" remind me of the relationship between "Alien" and its sequel "Aliens." "Alien" is definitely the superior movie, but Hollywood did a decent job with the sequel providing the elements that made the first one good, but offering something a little new.
As for the Thing franchise, check them both out. Here is the trailer for the new one:
By way of comparison, here is the trailer for the 1982 version.