The Thing about night­mares

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By YIP WAI YEE Thething.

dutch di­rec­tor of the pre­quel was ter­ri­fied of not do­ing jus­tice to John car­pen­ter’s cult movie.

DUTCH film­maker Matthijs van Hei­jnin­gen Jr had con­stant night­mares when film­ing his sci-fi hor­ror flick The Thing. The 46-year-old hor­ror movie fan­boy was not spooked by the creepy sub­ject mat­ter. But he was afraid he would ruin the legacy of the orig­i­nal 1982 cult clas­sic movie of the same name.

His film is set three days be­fore the story re­layed in the older movie di­rected by John Car­pen­ter.

Over the tele­phone from his home in Los An­ge­les, the debu­tant fea­ture film di­rec­tor says with a chuckle: “Dur­ing the shoot­ing, I would wake up in the mid­dle of the night and think, ‘ Oh my God, will I do the orig­i­nal movie jus­tice or will I be the one who will ruin it?’

“I was pinch­ing my­self and think­ing how am I even al­lowed to pay trib­ute to some­thing as big as The Thing. The whole ex­pe­ri­ence of shoot­ing this movie was com­pletely daunt­ing.”

The new movie, which stars Mary El­iz­a­beth Win­stead and Joel Edger­ton, is about a group of re­searchers who dis­cover a sin­is­ter alien form buried deep in the ice in Antarc­tica, only to re­alise too late that the mon­ster is still alive and out to eat hu­mans.

Sci-fi hor­ror fans con­sider Car­pen­ter’s movie to be one of the best in the genre. Though it failed at the box of­fice on its orig­i­nal re­lease, it gained a cult fol­low­ing and spawned novel and comic book adap­ta­tions, video games and ac­tion fig­ures.

When it was first screened in the Nether­lands, van Hei­jnin­gen was un­der­age and had to sneak into cine­mas to catch it.

“In Amsterdam, the movie was for those 18 years and above, but I knew I had to watch it. I’d do it again if I had to be­cause it was one of my favourite hor­ror movies from my child­hood. I’ve seen it at least 100 times since then.”

He even chased the job of mak­ing the pre­quel. He says: “The first movie project I was sup­posed to be do­ing was shelved for a while, so I was in a void. Then for some rea­son, I sud­denly thought, what­ever hap­pened to The Thing?

“I called my agent and asked whether any­one was do­ing any­thing re­lated to The Thing and it so hap­pens that pro­duc­tion com­pany Strike En­ter­tain­ment had a script writ­ten, but did not have a di­rec­tor on board yet. So I got in touch with them and they were very en­thu­si­as­tic about my work on com­mer­cials, and that’s how I got the job.”

Many of his com­mer­cials have sci-fi el­e­ments: An ad­ver­tise­ment for a de­odor­ant fea­tures ro­bots and fu­tur­is­tic ma­chines, while an­other for a soda drink fea­tures an­gry alien mon­sters ram­pag­ing through a city.

The di­rec­tor, who has filmed com­mer­cials for the past 15 years, says: “I treated all of my com­mer­cials like short film ex­er­cises. They gave me a lot of op­por­tu­nity to play with dif­fer­ent re­al­i­ties.

“They of­ten fea­tured strange, sep­a­rate uni­verses. Of course, when you di­rect a movie you have to over­see a lot more things, but the shoot­ing process of a com­mer­cial and a film is the same.”

He is likely to do a few more sci-fi hor­ror films, though no de­tails are con­firmed.

He says: “There is some­thing about sci-fi and hor­ror – it is a whole other world, which is in­ter­est­ing for a film­maker to ex­plore. All you have to do is switch off and these movies take you to an­other re­al­ity.”

And oh, how he al­lows him­self to be car­ried into the movie world.

The di­rec­tor, who is mar­ried with three chil­dren, says sheep­ishly: “I watched Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity (2007) on DVD at home alone and it scared the sh** out of me. I al­most couldn’t fin­ish watch­ing it.” – The Straits Times, Sin­ga­pore/Asia News Net­work n TheThing is now play­ing at cine­mas na­tion­wide.

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