So with the re-making of John Carpenter’s 1982 “The Thing” almost with us, it’s no wonder that anyone is on the edge of their seats for the Matthijs van Heijningen Jr remake. Watching the trailer I can already see they have destroyed yet another classic childhood film. With ridiculous amount of CGI used and giving the production way too much money to a director that hasn’t done a film with this much budget, it seems like Matthijs has bitten more then he can chew.
This blog however isn’t about me ranting about a under qualified director because we all know he is. This blog is about how the concept of too much CGI actually belittles the idea of realism within the film and how it has no place in horror. In the 1982 version of “The Thing” barely any CGI was used, infect the only scene that is CGI is when the alien spacecraft crashes into Earth. The rest of the film is just; beautifully handcrafted alien prop, amazing pulley systems, stunning make up and even using amputees as in initiative for loosing limbs. The whole idea of CGI was to make it look so realistic that the audiences couldn’t even tell if it was prop or a computer generated imagery. Now that it’s so heavily edited that it draws away from realism and that it takes away the imagination which takes away the fear. Steven Spielberg didn’t show Jaws throughout the film not because he wanted to build suspense but because the shark robot never actually worked and could only show glimpse of the shark and let the audience use their imagination. Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” infected was a simply design of red contact lenses, a lot of blood and mad running speed. Francis Lawrence originally wanted to make his infected vampire beings in “I am Legend” similar to Danny Boyle’s infected and can actually be seen in when one of the infected vampires attacks Will Smiths family jeep when driving them to the evacuation point. However half way through filming Francis changed his mind and decided to make his infected CGI which made the production more expensive and made the infected look ridiculous. This decision of converting from a simple makeup to an overly priced and long developing CGI actually did cost him the film. This goes again with the 1984 remake of “Nightmare on Elm Street” when Freddy was heavily CGI. In the original Freddy did actually look like a burnt victim, but with the 2010 remake you can tell the actor was just wearing a green mask and left to the editors to do the CGI.
Of course CGI is not all gloom and doom. I feel that CGI’s soul place should be in natural disaster movies rather than horror and gore films; the huge tsunami wave in 2012, the hurricane twisters in The Day After Tomorrow and the world destroyer asteroids in Armageddon. These are great films with amazing CGI, helping the audience capture their imagination with the power of natural disaster.