After putting his own spin on Rio Bravo, John Carpenter decided to straight-up remake The Thing from Another World. Directed by Christian Nyby (many argue it was actually directed by its producer, Howard Hawks), this 1951 flick is one of Carpenter's favorite films. But as far as remakes go, The Thing and The Thing from Another World are different creatures.
Sure, in both versions, an alien crashes into the snow. The evil E.T. then terrorizes humans and murders sled dogs. In both movies, the Thing has an aversion to fire, and it's defeated by a male pilot, but that's where the similarities end. The '51 film is set in the Arctic and focuses on a group of all-white scientists and soldiers. Instead of featuring an all-male cast, a woman plays one of the main characters in the remake. And when the monster shows up, he's a gigantic humanoid vegetable with a craving for human blood.
Fortunately, our brave heroes defeat the otherworldly threat, no doubt a Cold War metaphor for communism. The soldiers are like patriotic superheroes who know the power of teamwork, which makes it the complete opposite of Carpenter's remake. Set in the Antarctic, the '82 film focuses on a group of scruffy researchers (no soldiers, no women), and instead of fighting an "intellectual carrot," they're facing a slimy shape-shifter that absorbs and impersonates its victims.
As for teamwork, Carpenter ditches the positivity for paranoia. Instead of coming together, the "heroes" in The Thing are constantly suspicious of each other, never sure who's human. Alliances shift, factions form, and people turn on each other. Most importantly, while the heroes of the '51 film defeat the Thing and warn the world to "watch the skies," Carpenter gives us one of the most ambiguous endings ever, one as bleak and cold as Outpost 31.