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The Thing (2003 re-issue) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000108448
Added by: David Beckett
Added on: 2/10/2008 09:49
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The Thing

8 / 10


Something's amiss in the Antarctic. When Mac (Kurt Russell) and the rest of the men at United States National Science Institute Station 4 take in a husky that was being hunted by two crazed Norwegians in a helicopter, they had no idea what chain of events they had started.

They decide to investigate but find the Norwegian station destroyed, a pile of burnt bodies and evidence pointing to the discovery of a UFO buried in the snow and ice. When they find their own huskies dead and some bloody clothes but with no sign of a victim and no one missing from the team, it's clear something is not right.

One by one, the Thing takes more victims and takes their form causing the men turn on each other, unsure of who is really human.

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It's a real shame that they never got round to releasing an anamorphic version of The Thing on DVD; even this, the 2003 re-release has the same letterboxed picture as the original 1999 version. The picture is OK with some print damage evident and grain but nothing to detract from the film. The creature effects by Rob Bottin and the late, great Stan Winston are superb and have barely aged in the quarter century since the film was made.

I have yet to understand the reason to change the cover from a visually arresting image to that of the computer game, showing events that take place after the film.

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The English 5.1 surround soundtrack is fine, with nothing in the way of crackles or hiss to detract from the uncharacteristic score by Ennio Morriconne - dark and moody which suits the film perfectly.

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Extra Features

The commentary by Kurt Russell and John Carpenter is one of those rare tracks that doesn't turn into a backslapping love in as the two friends talk and joke through the film, providing plenty of information and interesting reminisces as they go.

The Thing: Terror Takes Shape is a comprehensive 80 minute making of, made some 16 years after the film and featuring contributions from most of the cast and crew. The rest of the extras pale in comparison to the excellent making of but are worth flicking through.

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Based on the book 'Who Goes There' by John Campbell Jr. and a remake of Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World, The Thing stands as both a seminal work in the career of John Carpenter, a perfect exercise in psychological terror and one of the rarest of rare things, a remake superior to the original.

Carpenter keeps the film tight, the tension high and doesn't wimp out when it comes to the ending - a lesser director would have gone for a 'Love Conquers All' happy resolution but thankfully Carpenter sticks with the downbeat tone right until the final credits. He also cast well, with Kurt Russell on top form and ably supported by the likes of Keith David, Wilford Brimley and Richard Dysart. There isn't a great deal of characterisation at the beginning but, as the numbers shrink, the characters become more fleshed out and developed, helped by some fine acting.

I think it's a great film, a fine DVD despite the letterboxed transfer and it's one that any self respecting horror fan should own. I look forward to owning it on Blu-ray.

This is available to buy individually, or as part of John Carpenter: The Collection.

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