Dec 4, 2009

Posted in George, Reviewers

The Thing..Remake? Oh no…

The Thing..Remake? Oh no…

Article from      By MacReady

A few weeks ago we reported that Strike Entertainment, the company that made the “Dawn of the Dead” remake, “Slither” and “Children of Men“, is looking for writers to pen a prequel to my all time favorite movie, John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. In the meantime a writer has been found (Ronald D. Moore) and the film will be a remake and not a prequel. Anyways, full of joy I decided to tell it to my wife. She said, “Yeah, that was a great movie. This could turn out well.” only to continue with “That was the movie with the naked blond alien girl looking for a man to impregnate her, wasn’t it?” At this moment I knew what I had to do. I needed to chat with someone who knew the difference between “Species” and “The Thing” and loves the movie as much as I do. I needed someone with whom I could talk about how this movie should be done and what needs to be done to satisfy the fans. So I contacted my buddy Vincent J. Guastini, who truly is one of the biggest “The Thing” fans I know.

The movie and especially Rob Bottin’s special effects had such a big influence on him that he became an SFX artist and he founded his own company. He and his crew are responsible for effects like Ben Affleck’s angel wings in Kevin Smith’s “Dogma” and the aging of Ellen Bursytn in “Requiem for a dream”. The latest work of the “V.G.P. Effects + Design Studios” includes SFX for “Scary Movie 4”, “Hood of Horror”, “Driftwood” and Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima”. Vincent and I will talk about our ideas for the remake, you will get to see lots of exclusive images from the early stages of pre-production of the remake and sequel movies that were planned a few years ago and lots more. So sit back, read on and enjoy.

Welcome to our little chat Vincent. I think you were surprised like me when you heard there are plans for a prequel to John Carpenter’s masterpiece “The Thing”. We already know that there were remake plans for a mini TV series from the Sci-Fi channel but a big screen movie is a completely different thing and gives us fans lots of room for speculations doesn’t it?

Vince: Yeah it does. I just hope the ideas and what is behind them are good enough that it won’t be dumb. There would only be a few directors I could trust with a property like that I think the fans would agree with some of those ideas. Some of my top choices would be David Fincher, Zach Snyder, who did 300 &Dawn of the Dead remake what a great director. I was talking to him years ago about doing the comic book MAGE since then we lost touch.

Another weird choice but I feel would be interesting to see is Darren Aronofsky He has a quirky original style and if there was a direct remake that would be say very Un-Hollywood like I believe that is what his version would look like would be something very disturbing and never seen. Another choice David Cronenberg, my friend Oscar nominated Josh Olson wrote “A History of Violence” and I think I could see even David doing a good job if the script was good and if Josh wrote it. Even he being such a Monster Fan on the outset could even see him, Josh directing it.

Mac: Good choices there Vince. All of the directors have pretty much their own vision on how to make movies. I also like Snyder’s and Fincher’s work. And Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a dream” was on of the coolest movies ever. I’m really very curious how his new movie “The Fountain” will be like.David Cronenberg also is a great director. He did so much for the horror genre, but like John Carpenter he had problems whenever he was working with big studios. None of his big budget movies ever was really successful and appreciated by his fans. But I have to tell you that my first choice would still be John Carpenter himself, especially since I saw his Masters of Horror episode “Cigarette Burns”. He still rocks as a director. Just give him free hand and let him work, and his movies kick ass.

Now I want to come back to the previous attempts of recreating “The Thing” in a new way. You told me some time ago that you were working on the remake and sequel versions of “The Thing” the Sci Fi Channel planned some time ago. What was your job during the projects?

Vince: I was involved briefly with the first remake for the Sci Fi Channel I did some designs & a model for David Foster who in turn recommended I get them to Frank Darabont, who was writing the new sequel for the Sci Fi Channel version. I met with David and he was really impressed by my ideas so was Frank Darabont but, I did not have the prize because Frank has certain alliances with effects people so I knew going in I would not be a first choice. But his company did keep in touch with me and give me reports as to what was happening due to my design ideas and presentation.

Now I heard no news from ‘Darkwoods’, Frank Darabont’s company in the last 4 months. So now I just hear from you what’s going on I’m real excited about it and hope I can be involved with the remake in the new project. Other then me hahaha If Rob Bottin wanted to do it I would step aside. But my ideas of what should happen and how far can get pretty extreme. But I have this idea the remake is either going to be a full remake and not a sequel I think a sequel is a better idea don’t touch the original it’s just too good, I think it should be taken to a city. But due to budgets etc. & how studios think I’m sure there going to do a straight remake. Keep it confined and in certain central locations. But I guess will have to see.

Mac: I really love the idea of the Thing coming to a big city, but I’m not quite sure they want to give the movie the proper budget. “The Thing” is a cult movie now, but it took many years to become as respected for the wider audience as it is now. I believe they want to keep the budget as small as possible. Not on the special effects, but on the location. I mean, everyone knows that the alien has to kick ass. They can’t afford to save money on it because everyone will compare it to Rob Bottin’s creature(s). And they still are amazing although the movie is more than 24 years old now.
So since it was reported that they want to make a remake, which will not be a note for note remake but more a ‘companion piece’, it would be cool if they would set some scenes before the accidents of Outpost #31. In my opinion the easiest way would be to set the beginning of the story at the Norwegian Station and show what happened to the scientists before they chase the dog towards the US-Station. The second part should be set at Outpost #31. There the real terror should begin. And since both parts of the movie would play in the 2 stations, they could keep the costs for the location low and use the money for the Thing.

This brings me to the next point. I guess we both agree that we don’t want to see a CGI alien. The 1982 movie showed that good craftsmanship overcomes time and still can compete with new movies. There’s no need for a cheap looking CGI monster. Or better said I don’t want to see it. I want to see what John Carpenter’s movie has shown us: SFX that came from the heart and not from a PC. Because that was definitely one of the aspects that made the movie what it is today.

Vince: I believe CGI would be great in the new Thing, but done to a bare minimum or when you really need it. I would if I was the director combine both CGI and live action to the point where you cannot tell absolutely not tell at all. Say for really far shots, or enhancing expressions on some animatronic heads. Adding certain little things on top of the puppets, things like that.

And once I had those scenes cut together with CGI I would have a screening on a big screen and ask the entire crew and fans of horror that I know have a good eye for these things, besides me to ask, if anything in these scenes looks CGI faky or computer generated in any way. If I did get a reaction from say more then 2 or 3 people who I did trust on there views and know they had THE EYE for it, it would be cut down or cut out.

I’m amazed at some big movies where they have this ton of CGI and looks like play station. “Van Helsing” to name one, and there looking at dailies going WOW that’s awesome, then it’s cut into the final lock of the picture,. I’m like HUH????????? WTF, how do you sit there for a minute and believe that that will fly. But guess what you keep seeing it.
Mac: Yeah, there really are some big budget examples for bad CGI, and sometimes movies that were made with way less money look ok, like “Land of the Dead”. Hopefully the makers of the new “Thing” keep in mind that CGI is ok for enhancing and don’t want to make too much with the computer. As you mentioned, at the end it’s all a question of seeing if something fits or not.

Vince: So as far as “The Thing” remake goes, if you have a director who has THE EYE for liking or thinking Play Station graphics and monsters work, and they look a bit cartooney, and the director lets it slide because it was paid for and there’s no more time to tweak it or worse yet says’ ahh it looks cool were ok’ Then I’m sorry to say were in trouble.

At least John Carpenter in his day when he had THE EYE he at least had the balls to cut out most of the Stop motion because he knew it did not look or feel as real as the practical monsters.

Mac: That’s a great example for cutting out stuff that doesn’t fit to the rest of the movie. If some of our readers don’t know what was cut out, there’s a really cool “Deleted Scenes” feature on the US SE DVD of “The Thing”. Be sure to check it out and you all will understand why the Stop Motion scene didn’t make it to the big screen. It was really made with lots of love, but it just didn’t fit to the looks and the feel of the other Thing scenes.
Vincent, you told us earlier that you have been involved in the early stages of pre-production of the remake and sequel movies for “The Thing” that were planned a few years ago. You sent us some images of the designs and the models you made, and maybe you could explain how you approached this work and what ideas you had in mind when you did them. (Of course all readers can view larger versions by clicking the small images and you will find even more pics at the gallery link provided at the bottom.)
The first image I want to show our readers is your interpretation of the famous “Spider-Head” from John Carpenter’s movie, definitely one of the best scenes in the 1982 movie. Now this is not directly one of your designs for the previously planned remakes, but it’s very cool and shows your love for the original movie. Why did you choose this model?

Vincent: Well it was an image I always haunted me form the movie. Rick Baker was struck by Frankenstein, And other Effects guys had “Planet of The Apes”, Those movies did it for me too, but my head was sparked off by “The Thing”, so I had to have this head in front of me too. So I made it back in 96 and now it hangs in my shop.

Mac: And now we move on to the stuff all readers are waiting for, your remake designs. I have to say that I really was thrilled when I saw them. Of course we will start with the first alien the audience knows really well, the dog which transforms in the kennel.
This was one of the first special effects I just couldn’t believe when I watched the movie the first time, and I think many of our readers feel the same way. Your design has everything a fan can wish for, the open flesh, the tentacles and a really pissed off face expression, but the first thing people will recognize is that you didn’t choose a Husky like in JC’s movie but a Rottweiler. Is there a special reason for that?

Vincent: Well to be honest we just did a dog movie so we had the template for the dog, so I said lets add some organic things to it, to make it fit the look of say what a new thing dog would look like. Also this was all done to start some ideas and just show what we could do.

Mac: After the dogs the next victims of our loved alien intruder are of course the people of the research station. The next 3 images look like earlier transformations. And again we see all the stuff we love. The victim in the first image clearly shows the stomach jaws we know from the famous defibrillator scene. The other 2 images show various transformations, a burst chest with arms and tentacles and a thing monster that already lost much of a human’s anatomy.

It looks like the people at the Sci-Fi Channel wanted to keep familiar scenes but also move on to new variations of the monster. Did you have any restrictions for making the concept arts, like including known and loved scenes from JC’s movie?

Vincent: There were no rules these were done strictly has a visual presentation to excite as well as show my point of View me and my artist Jacob Hair got together and brain stormed.

I wanted to get across what was possible. And s\also sees who ever did this movie that I do and can have some influence over it since I know the first movie so well. I just want to match and hopefully if I can, depending on the director, go beyond it or in some cases at least not f**k up what was already brilliant. Thanks to John Carpenter & Rob Bottin no matter what happens if the remake is f\great or a complete shit bag. We will always have the first one to look at and say hey look at that no body can touch it. Maybe that’s how it should stay.

Mac: What better words can be found to end our little chat Vince. There sure would be more to talk about the remake but let’s face it, Vincent is a very busy man, and at the moment he is in Romania working on a new movie. THX very much for your time and for the cool images you provided us with buddie. Let’s hope the people in charge at ‘Strike Entertainment’ try their best to make this one a cool remake like their remake of “Dawn of the Dead”.
For all you fans there are even more images than the ones seen in this news. In total Vincent exclusively provided us with 16 pics of his “The Thing” artworks and models. So be sure to check out the Vincent Guastini The Thing Gallery and explore all the crazy ideas Vincent and his team came up with and discuss the remake with us at the Forum.

Who knows, maybe someone recognizes Vincent’s love for the movie and the great work he did for a new “The Thing” version already and brings him on board of the new film. He sure would deserve it. Don’t forget to read our interview we had with the SFX Guru some time ago right here, of course it also features some very nice images too. If you want to learn even more about Vincent J. Guastini and his work just visit him at MySpace or take a look at his Official Website.
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