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Will We Ever See The Practical Effects Cut Of 2011's The Thing?

John Carpenter's 1982 horror classic, The Thing, remains a sterling example of what's possible in the genre. The creepy atmosphere and body horror continue to terrify to this day, and it's only grown more relevant with its depiction of the way paranoia can take down entire communities. In fact, the film has held up a lot better than some horror movies that only came out a decade ago, such as the 2011 prequel of the same name, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. 

Taking place before the events of the 1982 film, 2011's The Thing failed to make much of an impression. While it was technically a prequel, it felt more like a beat-for-beat remake. Much like the titular alien that shape-shifts into its victims, the reboot feels like a carbon copy of the original with critics pointing to a litany of flaws. One of the most prominent drawbacks critics were quick to point to was the lackluster CGI, as Alexandra Cavallo of The Boston Phoenix writes, "Laughable dialogue and the CGI-generated monster get in the way of the scares."

The practical effects from the '80s have held up better than the CGI from just a decade ago, and it seems like that's exactly what director Matthijs van Heijningen wanted to avoid. Originally, practical effects were used until they were swapped out later at Universal's behest (via Screen Rant). Video footage exists showing what the actual costumes and props would have looked like, and the consensus among fans in the comments is that using those items would've helped the film immensely. 

Is there a chance audiences could one day see 2011's The Thing with the original effects? Don't hold your breath.

There wouldn't be any real incentive to release a different cut of The Thing

Audiences have more power than ever before, as evidenced by the ability of fans to meme Zack Snyder's Justice League into existence. But where is the legion of fans clamoring for a definitive edition of 2011's The Thing. It's unlikely anyone had high expectations for a prequel to a 30-year-old movie anyway, and without the same kind of financial incentive, there likely wouldn't be any reason for Universal to pursue a re-release any time soon.

Redditor u/ZiMattack23 asked about such a move coming to fruition, and other horror buffs were quick to shoot down those dreams, though everyone seemed disappointed in the final product we did see. A few people even brought up links showing what all went into the unused practical effects, including u/DJBenz who linked to this video showing some in-house tests of some of the monstrosities. The only thing u/maybenomaybe could say in response was, "Those effects are incredible, what a damn shame they didn't make it into the film." There's also a version of the trailer that aired during Comic-Con in 2011 where you can see some of the real-life props in action, albeit barely.

At the end of the day, special effects are just one part of the equation that make up whether a movie is good or not. Some critics never really even touched upon the VFX, and instead focused on other issues plaguing the film. Shaun Munro of What Culture wrote, "There's no escaping that this Thing is a pointless remake trying to convince itself that it is in fact a prequel."

John Carpenter's The Thing didn't do well upon initial release either, but it was merely ahead of its time. History is unlikely to be as kind to this version.