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Retro-inspired 'The Thing' read-along record passes the test

Posted Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 3:29 PM Central
Last updated Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 3:35 PM Central

by Tim Briscoe

Nostalgia is a great thing. We all enjoy reminiscing about the good ol' days. That's one of the reasons why the "Throwback Thursday" trend has become so popular. We can rekindle those past memories in something we enjoy today.

Hollywood frequently relies upon nostalgia. Current hit films like Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Marvel adaptations all evoke childhood memories for a key, movie-going demographic. When done right, the result is powerful.

Movie studios aren't the only ones to draw upon nostalgia to create something amazing. Rob Lammle has done exactly that with a new read-along record book for The Thing.

If you grew up in the '70s or '80s, you probably remember listening to audio programs as you followed along with a storybook. "When you hear this sound... BEEP! ...turn the page in your book," the record or cassette would say. Popular movies and TV shows like Star Wars and Disney all got the read-along album treatment.

Rob remembers those days fondly. "I grew up in virtual isolation on my family's farm in central Illinois. Because this was the pre-VHS days, I had to find other ways to entertain myself, and record books and stories on vinyl were a great way to fill that time." The recent resurgence of vinyl led him back to his old albums. "Luckily my parents had them shoved in a plastic bin in the back of a closet, so I dug them out and have since then kind of became obsessed with collecting them. Now I have somewhere around 100 albums in various formats, featuring movies like WarGames and Roger Rabbit, superheroes like the Justice League and Transformers, and obscure cartoons like Fangface and The Funky Phantom."

Collecting the vintage records wasn't enough for Lammle. He wanted something new. He has written and produced a brand new recording for John Carpenter's 1982 classic movie The Thing. It's every bit as good as those old albums. In fact, it's something you would never have seen back in its day. Yes, this audio program is as expletive-filled as its R-rated source material. Give it a listen with that warning in mind:

Rob's website also has options to download the MP3 audio and PDF book. The booklet is better experienced in all its glory as a download rather than here in this Youtube version.

Lammle explained the genesis of The Thing read-along book:

I was inspired to create my own record book by an album I have based on the old TV series Kojak. That record has a handful of stories and someone is murdered in every one of them, which seems odd in a record made for children. Without sounding too pretentious, the juxtaposition of violence in a kid's medium is awkwardly funny to me; it's like the producers aren't even aware they're scarring kids for life (see: Watership Down, Return to Oz). So I got to thinking of other not-for-kids movies and TV shows that would have been around in the record book heyday.

Naturally Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Alien came to mind, but so did one of my favorite films of the time, The Thing. With all the blood and gore and slimy tentacles, but also a really solid Cold War-era paranoia story, it seemed like the perfect film for a read-along record book that should have been. Since no one else was going to make it, I rewrote the movie into 24 pages of about 100 words each, got some of my friends to record dialog, used music and sound effects from the movie, as well as fair use sound effect websites, and produced the audio portion of the project. Then, using screen shots from the Blu-ray, I put together a retro-inspired record book so people can get the whole experience. Now, months later, there's a read-along record book of The Thing just like there should have been back in 1982.

If you dig into the book's credits, you'll notice a familiar name. Yours truly got to portray Norris -- the guy whose head turns into a spider-like creature. Rob is a friend of mine and I jumped at his invite to contribute. I had a blast recording the audio and can't wait to see what he makes next.

Yes, Rob has promised more original audio books. He hasn't divulged the next subject but we all have been inundating him with suggestions. I'd love to see a newer film given the retro treatment. I think it'd equally great to see a classic movie with tons of memorable quotes like Caddyshack or Stripes as a read-along.