The Thing (1982/2008)

by | Sep 29, 2008 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

The Thing (1982/2008)

Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell
Music: Ennio Morricone

Studio: Universal [Release date: Sept. 30, 08]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9, color 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: Commentary track by Kurt Russell & John Carpenter; Picture in Picture feature; U-Control feature
Length: 1 hours 48 minutes
Rating: ****

This was low-budget master Carpenter’s redo of the classic B&W sci-fi film of 1951, but it has little similarity to the original aside from the arctic research station location and The Thing being from outer space.  Carpenter’s version actually doesn’t look a bit low-budget – he seems to have pulled out all the stops here, even to using an original (and quite effective) musical score by Morricone, instead of creating his own do-it-yourself score as he usually did for his movies.  Also, the costs for the very gory special effects can’t have been negligible.  The gore factor creeped out some reviewers and audiences back in l982, but today we’ve been deadened by other films and it doesn’t seem so over the top.

The crew at an isolated U.S. antarctic research station find themselves for unexplained reasons cut off from radio communication with the rest of the world.  A beautiful husky which has been pursued by a gunman in a helicopter arrives at their camp and seems happy to join the other dogs.  The pursuing gunman lands his copter, continuing his effort to kill the dog and is shot by the chief of the research station. The dog joins the others in the kennel and transforms into a gory, form-changing alien which kills them. It slowly becomes clear that it is a creature who crashed and froze thousands of years ago near another research station operated by Norway.  The Norwegians dug it up, thawed it out and it killed all of their crew except the copter pilot who is now also dead.  The U.S. crew figures out that the alien cannot be killed in the usual way but must be burned to ashes. It can absorb and then “imitate” any other life form it is near, and each of the 12 members of the team fall into a super-paranoia mode, since any of the team might possibly be an alien “imitation” waiting to kill and absorb him.  The result is intense and scary suspense that rises to higher and higher levels. The transfer is terrific and the images never look fakey; Carpenter talks on the commentary track about the challenges of actually filming in the arctic (just as was done for Stargate Continuum).  The DTS lossless surround captures all the creepy sounds as well as the big explosions and gunshots, immersing the viewer in the film.

The standard DVD release had lots of extra materials, including outtakes, visual effects footage, behind-the-scenes footage and stills, the storyboard, deleted stop-motion animation and the original theatrical trailer.  These were not included on the Blu-ray.  However, the 84-minute documentary on the older collectors DVD has now been transformed into the Blu-ray Picture in Picture (PIP) feature, which means that you can watch in little pieces in a small window along with the movie (if you want to do that; I don’t!).  Plus this feature won’t work on Profile 1.0 Blu-ray players, which many players still are.  Thankxalot, Universal…

 – John Sunier

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