Review of Thing, The: Collector`s Edition
I was about 15 my brother was 17. It was late one Saturday night, Halloween I do believe. We`d heard all this hype about a movie with gross-out gory effects that was on ITV that night. My brother decided we would watch it, in my bedroom, in the dark, on my new 14" portable TV, he spent his money on music systems I was the TV & Movie freak.
Now anyone who`s watched John Carpenter`s The Thing, whether you love it or hate it, will know the kind of impression it must have left on a 15 year-girl in the mid eighties. This was the first movie that really scared me. And the first movie that steered me slightly away from the tradition lovingly referred to now as the "Chick Flick". It`s a movie that drags you slowly through moments intense paranoia and then grabs at your throat with relentless over-the-top and gory special effects. Now I`m I`m not talking the all believable CGI type effects of today. This was the foam rubber and Robinson jam era. This was the era of The Thing.
On a US Antarctic research outpost a group of twelve men discover an alien, buried in the ice for 100,000 years. Soon unfrozen it becomes there worst nightmare a shape shifting virus that absorbs and mimics human and animal form perfectly. Nobody can be trusted, who is The Thing where will it strike next. It`s a struggle for survival man against monster...but man its the warmest place to hide!
The film is presented in widescreen in 2.35.1 Ratio (Non Anamorphic) it is accurate with no visible cropping. The picture is immaculate, only the 1995 UK Laserdisc from Pioneer was a near match. There is no evidence of macro blocking which is a great achievement by Universal due to the dark nature of this film. Blacks are solid with good, stable colour. A slight amount of print grain is evident, which is expected for a film of its age.
The menus are static, comprising images from the movie and original poster elements. Brief sections of Enio Morricone`s fabulous haunting score are played on each menu screen. Not the most inventive menu system but better than some, I won`t name names.
The movie is, for the first time, in glorious Dolby Digital 5.1. This is of course remixed from the original analogue soundtrack and should not be compared with more up-to-date 5.1 mixes. That said it is superb assault on the ears with rears creating the great ambient effects of the harsh Antarctic weather and the hisses, gurgles and whipping tentacles of the Thing monster in the Defib. scene. The bass extension hasn`t got a Jurassic Park style punch but does an adequate job given the original source material. The sound can be a little harsh at times but The Thing never sounded this good on its 1982 Theatrical release.
A whole flying saucer load, Universal have surpassed themselves. Along with The traditional Original Theatrical Trailer found on most discs these days, They must have had people digging the archives for years to find the goods for this little silver platter, you`ve got production notes, story boards, deleted scenes, outtakes, work-in-progress visual effects footage, picture gallery and annotated production archives. There`s also a full audio commentary by John Carpenter and Kurt Russell where the two, obviously good friends, end up in hysterics as they reminisce about the shoot.
The best I save for last, a full 80min documentary entitled "THE THING - The Terror Takes Shape"
a fabulous look back at the production. Almost all the stars and production crew are present along with special effects wizard Rob Bottin, who checked into a hospital after over a years worth of constant work.
There is also a hidden Easter Egg feature that allows you to listen to the whole Ennio Morricone score, see if you can find it. (It`s not on the Region 2 disc, sorry).
Fabulous, is the only word I can use. A top class movie with presentation, sound and extras to match. It`s a shame it`s not Anamorphic plus better menus and a little extra oomph in the bass dept. would have made it light years ahead of fabulous.
This is one of my all time favourite classic sci-fi/Horror movies. Greatly underrated and a box office faliure on its release in 1982 it now has a strong cult following. Like I said it`s no "CHICK FLICK" and most of you girls out there would probably rather be watching Sleepless in Seattle or Notting Hill. Well I like those too, but I`ll give the blockbuster "Men Movies" a chance and at times they come up trumps. and if all else fails Kurt Russell`s still a dish.