The Thing - Collector's Edition (1982)

Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley
John Carpenter
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Colour, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
Not for sale to persons under age 18.
Universal Studios
Available subtitles: Spanish, French
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)

DVD Features:  Commentary by director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell, "John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape", Production Background Archives, Casp Production Photographs, Production Art and Storyboards, Location Design, Production Archives, The Saucer, The Blairmonster, Outtakes, Post Production, Production Notes, Cast and Filmmakers, Theatrical Trailer



thing.jpg (14087 bytes)Reviled by critics upon its initial release (Ebert dismissed it as a “freak show” for instance) and doing badly at the box office, this 1982 horror movie by cult director John Carpenter has undergone a bit of a rehabilitation recently – partly because of Gen X fans who recall it vividly and partly because horror flicks strangely enough became more tame and predictable with the years.

Also, critics' societies would also recently vote The Thing – released in the same year as E.T.! - onto their list of Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time (the Online Film Critics Society for example voted it number 28).

And unfortunately partly because Carpenter’s own further output became progressively worse. Ghosts of Mars, anyone?

Yup, The Thing is still quite gory and violent even by today’s standards. One critic called Carpenter a “pornographer of violence” and the accusation must have stung because Carpenter mentions it in his director’s commentary on this disc. Violent it is though, and more sensitive souls are obviously advised to stay clear of this Alien-like tale about an alien creature that can imitate anyone at a deserted Antarctic base.

Horror and sci-fi fans who haven’t checked it out though should. Same goes for Gen Xers who recall the movie fondly – this is one case where your memory serves you well, unlike those Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episodes which you thought were so cool as a kid . . .

For me personally, this is a movie that actually improves with age (read an extended review of the movie and The Thing From Another World of which it is loosely a remake written in 1999 – the previous time I saw it - here) as movies grow more predictable and CGI effects get even crappier. Yeah, that severed head spurting spider legs is as freaky as you remember it!

THE DISC: This so-called “Collector’s Edition” is indeed that. It has everything from a making-of documentary (titled "John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape" featuring interviews with John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, make-up designer Rob Bottin, matte artist Albert Whitlock, and other cast and crew members) to outtakes, work-in-progress special effects footage and behind-the-scenes footage.

Best of all though is the director’s commentary with Carpenter and star Kurt Russell (who laughs throughout the movie’s goriest scenes). A nostalgic look at the film, their commentary may not supply you with all the questions you have about this film, but at least Carpenter keeps the commentary going: there are few silent pauses, which one often finds in such audio tracks.

WORTH IT? The image (preserving director Carpenter’s fantastic widescreen compositions) and sound looks fantastic for a movie of its age (22 this year!), there are loads of extras – what’s not to like?

RECOMMENDATION: Add it to your horror/sci-fi collection today.



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