In last month’s Remake vs. Remake segment I pitted Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead against Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of The Blob and came out in favor of the latter, which is hands down one of my favorite 80’s movies.
But this week I figured I’d get interesting. I figured I’d pose a neck and neck challenge to myself and to you horror fans. How about John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece remake of The Thing pitted against David Cronenberg’s 1986 masterpiece remake of The Fly? Not so easy, is it? Not for me at least.
On one hand, The Thing is a filmmaker at the top of his game (while I love Halloween, The Fog, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape From New York and They Live, Carpenter’s mastery reached its height here). On the other hand, you could say the same thing about Cronenberg and The Fly, which saw his body horror leanings reach delirious new highs and includes an almost career defining performance by Jeff Goldblum (and Geena Davis for that matter).
Both movies have excellent, top notch and incredibly inventive practical gore effects. Both are anchored by an unrelenting sense of escalation and doom, you don’t get the sense that things are going to end well either way. Both films have tight scripts that define character through action and cut all the fat. The Fly perhaps pulls at the heartstrings more (you’re more likely to cry at the sight of Seth Brundle guiding a shotgun to his mutated head than you are at the prospect of Macready freezing to death offscreen). But isn’t it the point of The Thing‘s chilly disposition that you’re slightly numb to the outcome?
Here’s the thing, I can’t categorically say that one film is better than the other. I don’t have an objective statement to make about one’s quality over the other. So I can only go with my personal, subjective preference. The litmus test of “which one do I actually watch more?” The answer there is The Thing, hands down. It’s in my Blu-ray player several times a year, perhaps only because The Fly is an overall more grueling experience.
What about you guys?