The people behind The Thing, the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, arguably one of the greatest sci-fi/horror flicks of all time, know what they have in their hands. It’s dynamite- they know how powerful it is, but if they’re not careful it can blow up in their faces.

Which is why it was amusing to see at the panel for The Thing at this weekend New York Comic Con that they were so obviously trying to placate the fans. How do they do that? Well, while they’re quick to point out that they don’t want to try and remake the classic film (either one!) in any way, they seem to have no problem mimicking what made it so special. This is an ensemble cast, a character-driven film. The effects will be as practical as possible, something that seemed evident in the quick creature clips we saw (more on that later). And it’s going to play on isolation, fear of the unknown, and of course, fear of what lies in the hearts of the people around you.

Director Matthijs van Heijningen came to the Con with a rough teaser trailer, one that was so new that the actors ran off the stage to get a look at it.

It starts off slow, showing a scientist named Adam (Eric Christian Olsen) talking to Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) about an opportunity to visit Antarctica for an amazing scientific find, one he can’t talk about. She of course agrees and there are shots of them trekking across the barren land, in both light and in the absolute pitch black of night. We’re shown the Norwegian leader Dr. Sander (Ulrich Thomsen) talking about how they will go down in history for this find, as they show us the gigantic slab of ice with the body of the thing frozen inside it. Then, things start to go wrong. The footage gets more and more tense as the shots accelerate and they cross-cut to someone drilling into the block of ice, towards the thing. And then it hits, and so does darkness. The last few seconds of the trailer fade in and out in complete silence, scenes of people screaming and grabbing flamethrowers and jumping over what appears to be an alien spaceship and creatures opening mouths and Kate standing with tentacles writhing behind her. Words appears, one line at a time-

IN A PLACE WHERE THERE IS NOTHING

THEY FOUND

SOMETHING

“SOME” disappears, and a small “The” pops up next to THING, as the original’s classic DUM DUM score plays in the background.

It’s pretty damn effective. At this point it’s worth mentioning how familiar things look. The room the ice is held in looks exact. Some other things look perfect as well (like the flailing tentacles!) and there’s even a Norwegian who’s got the crazed beard of the guy who gets shot in the face by Garry in Carpenter’s version. Hmmm!



After showing the trailer van Heijningen came on stage with producers Eric Newman and Marc Abraham and most of the main cast. Actually, the only main actor who couldn’t make it was Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who had a good excuse since she was busy getting married (sorry, Ramona fans!) But we had Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom) plays Sam Carter, a helicopter pilot and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost, Oz) plays his co-pilot, Eric Christian Olsen who plays the American scientist who brings Kate into this situation and Ulrich Thomsen who plays the lead Norwegian scientist.

Important info that we learned, besides the fact that fanboys and mics are two things that should always be kept separate:

- We will see the true version of the thing, or at least the one that first came to this planet. It’s entirely possible that the thing might have stopped at other planets before coming here, assimilating them and taking over their forms.

- The teaser trailer is coming soon.

- They fully intend on playing up the lack of understanding of each other’s languages. The Norwegians run the show here, after all, and the Americans are already outnumbered outcasts. Expect this to become a major source of tension.

- While Blair seemed to be the only person doing any real research in Carpenter’s version we can expect the scientific team that’s trying to work together and figure out just what the hell this thing is.
 
- Expect Kate and Sanders to butt heads, both in how they handle the finding of the specimen and afterwards when all hell breaks loose.

- This has got to be the ship. The trailer shows a scene where Kate is jumping over the vents of a large structure, likely the top of the alien ship.



- Either the actors were very well trained on what to say, or each and every one of them saw The Thing when it first came out and it’s stuck with them ever since.

- The movie will take play three days before the events of John Carpenter’s film and is set in 1982- as the old taxis in the NYC footage indicates.

It’s still hard to know what to make of all of this, but it’s definitely intriguing. The Thing hits theaters on April 29th, 2011.