'Who Goes There?'"Wwwwwwwwait a Second! There's no NORWEGIANS in the CAMPBELL story!!" That's what I thought (and what Scott Weinberg put into words for me) when I clicked through Monika's mention of the planned new version of The Thing and read the article in Variety. Here's why: I hate it when filmmakers are (apparently) unfamiliar with the story they're basing their film on.

The sentence that made my eyes bug out? "New project borrows heavily from the John W. Campbell Jr. short story 'Who Goes There,' the basis of the [John] Carpenter film and 1951 Howard Hawks original The Thing From Another World. It is set in a Norwegian camp and chronicles how the shape-shifting alien was first discovered and overcame the inhabitants of that camp."

WRONG WRONG WRONG! I dug out my copy of the story, originally published in 1938, and read it again, just to make sure. There is no Norwegian camp in the story. It starts with the discovery of the alien -- referred to constantly as "the thing" -- in an Antarctic scientific camp, flashes back to reveal how it was discovered, and then follows the horror of what happens when the creature is thawed after 20 million years frozen in the ice.

The first version in 1951 sent a military unit to the Arctic base (flipping the world upside down), added a reporter plus a woman scientist to the mix as a love interest, and made the nightmarish creature from Campbell's story ("three red eyes, and that blue hair like crawling worms") into a humanoid played by James Arness (the future Marshall Dillon of TV's Gunsmoke). It was a fast-paced, black and white suspenser that worked quite well, thanks, no doubt, to producer Howard Hawks.

categories Cinematical