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John Carpenter has long been recognised as a master of terror. The Thing, his 1982 remake of The Thing from Another World, opened at the same time as E.T., but introduced the world to an alien with a radically different agenda.

Thing, The

Feature


The Thing is a superb film, which really manages to create a feeling of claustrophobia and paranoia. Featuring excellent, not to mention disconcerting special effects, the film stands up very favourably to today’s movies in the looks department, while being streets ahead of most of them in terms of suspense and terror.

The story centres on a group of research scientists, stationed at a remote outpost in the Antarctic. They are quietly going about their business until a helicopter full of crazy Norwegians comes flying overhead, shooting wildly at a husky. So intent are they on pursuing the dog that they manage to blow up their helicopter and shoot one of the scientists, before they themselves are killed.

Before long it becomes apparent that the husky isn’t all it appears to be, especially after it mutates and tries to absorb a group of caged dogs! The scientists torch the cage, including the alien, but part of it detaches from the whole and escapes.

What follows is one of the most atmospheric and genuinely scary films I have ever seen. As one by one the men are taken over by the alien creature (which replicates them so perfectly as to be indistinguishable from the originals) the group begins to crack under the pressure. Each member of the group suspects the others of being impostors, and with trust gone they degenerate into an irrational mob.

One man, MacReady (Kurt Russell), emerges to lead as they try to identify those among them who are not what they appear to be, all the while trying to find a way to stay alive long enough for help to arrive.

Thing, The

Video


The transfer is fairly good, even without the benefit of anamorphic enhancement. While a lot of the film takes place inside the cramped outpost, the scenes filmed against the frozen white backdrop of the Antarctic look especially sharp. This is one of the better non-anamorphic pictures I’ve seen, although I’d like to know the reason it wasn’t given an anamorphic transfer. The special effects are amazing for their time; in fact they hold up to close scrutiny today. The alien creature itself is very well designed, particularly the nightmarish results of various failed imitations, which are all detailed wonderfully on this DVD. On the negative side, there is a fair amount of dirt and quite a few scratches on the print, which has undone a lot of the good aspects of the picture and brought the overall score down considerably.

Audio


Sound is decent, with a nice 5.1 track on offer that does its job admirably. What few explosions and effects there are all have a suitable kick to them. Dialogue is always clear, which is especially important in a film like this. The Ennio Morricone score suits the film perfectly, creating just the right atmosphere of tension and suspense. The creature sound effects are very convincing, not to mention a tad disturbing and all in all this is a very nice mix.

Extras


Bonus features are comprehensive, with a commentary track from John Carpenter and Kurt Russell that is full of banter and is very enjoyable to listen to. Also on offer are a documentary, production archives, production background archives, cast production photos, storyboards & conceptual art, location design, production archives, outtakes, production & post-production notes, cast and filmmakers' notes and a theatrical trailer. The documentary, entitled 'John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape' is excellent and gives valuable, in-depth insight into the filmmaking process.

Thing, The

Overall


This is a great disc and a thoroughly enjoyable, not to mention scary, nights viewing. The audio quality is good, but the video could have been better. The inclusion of anamorphic enhancement would have garnered a higher mark. In spite of these shortcomings the rest of the content makes for a top-notch release, with enough extras to warrant its Collector’s Edition moniker. For horror fans The Thing is a must see film and it also comes highly recommended to everyone else.


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