John Carpenter’s The Thing: Collector’s Edition
Studio: Scream Factory
Oct 17, 2016 Web Exclusive
Twelve men are all who occupy U.S. Outpost 31, a remote research station deep in the Antarctic. Isolated from the rest of the world until the passing of a brutal winter, the limits of the men’s psychological health is already under duress when a creature from another world – one without a face of its own – infiltrates their station, its mind set on escaping this frozen prison and destroying the rest of humanity. The beast lures its victims away from other humans and consumes them; its body re-forms into a perfect replicate of the organism it killed. The crew of the outpost knows it’s out there, and what it’s capable of. At any time it could be any one of them, and their dwindling number are all that stand between this thing and the rest of the human race. At the center of them all is Kurt Russell as helicopter pilot R.J. MacCready, one of the few men holding his shit together long enough to find a way to fight back against the faceless beast.
Damn, it gives me chills just thinking about it. The Thing appears perennially on lists of the greatest horror films of all time, and deservedly so. This is John Carpenter’s masterpiece of the genre – trumping even the iconic Halloween. With a thick, thick air of intense paranoia and jaw-dropping monster effects work, The Thing stands as one of the greatest films of both the horror and science fiction genres, and one – thanks to its villain’s shifting identity – that remains undiminished across repeated viewings.
Needless to say, The Thing looks ridiculously good in its new 2K scan. Cinematographer Dean Cundey’s color-palette is well-served by the rich contrast provided by Blu-ray: The Thing is a stream of flickering flames against a sea of darkness and ice, and has never looked better. Also worth noting is that unlike some othe 30-plus-year-old, SFX-heavy films, the creature effects hold up incredibly well under the added scrutiny of high definition – it’s a testament to the stellar quality of work done by Rob Bottin and his team. Ennio Morricone’s iconic, minimalist score sounds great, as well, with a variety of mixes provided to find one that best fits your home theater set-up.
Scream Factory decided to climb a steep mountain by curating their own special edition of The Thing, as it’s one of those films that’s already had a number of very good editions since the advent of the DVD era. Without surprise to anyone who’s browsed the seemingly-endless menu of some of their other cult horror releases – this year’s re-releases of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Return of the Living Dead being two such recent, winning examples – Scream’s version of The Thing is practically buried under an avalanche of extra features, both old and new. Disc one arrives with three full audio commentaries (two newly-recorded), a collection of trailers, TV and radio spots, and a gallery of behind-the-scenes stills and marketing materials. Disc two is loaded even heavier, containing the essential, feature-length retrospective documentary The Thing: Terror Takes Shape which dates back to the early DVD release, as well as nearly two-and-a-half hours of brand new interviews with cast and crew, including John Carpenter and practically every surviving cast member but Kurt Russell. We also have a new gallery of art by Mike Ploog, the full, truncated TV cut of the movie, numerous vintage production reels, outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage, and an annotated production archive. The only thing conceivably missing from this release is the long-lost “happy ending,” but it’s doubtful that will ever see the light of day – it’s hard to imagine anyone will top this version for a long, long time.
With its top grade audio-visuals and many, many hours’ worth of bonus materials, what we have here is a worthy contender for Blu-ray of the year.
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