Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, Keith David
Directed by John Carpenter
Distributed by Universal Home Video
“I know I’m human. And if you were all these things, then you’d just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn’t want to show itself; it wants to hide inside an imitation. It’ll fight if it has to, but it’s vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it’s won.” — R.J. MacReady
Going head up against Steven Spielberg’s E.T. definitely didn’t do The Thing any favors at the time of its release. America didn’t want an evil alien hellbent on taking over the world one body at a time. Instead, it wanted a small, waddling, extraterrestrial incarnation of Danny DeVito with a glowing finger. There’s just no accounting for the majority’s taste, I tell ya. The flick was for all intents and purposes a box office failure, but that didn’t stop it from finding its audience on the home video circuit. We’ve come a long way since the days of VHS tapes, and now Carpenter’s classic has been given the Blu-ray treatment.
The film, which has garnered much heated debate amongst its fanbase concerning whether or not it is a remake, centers upon the exploits of a twelve-man team of researchers in the Antarctic who eventually find the body of an alien life form that had been frozen in the snow. Once thawed, the shapeshifting creature replicates any human it finds by consuming it in all manner of violent and squishy ways. No one knows who’s real and who’s the thing.
This is a tale of paranoia for the ages. Who can you trust? The simple answer: only yourself. There are a lot of things that make The Thing a milestone film in our genre, but if I had to pick one aspect of the movie to tout above all others, it would have to be Rob Bottin’s special effects work. It’s probably some of the best ever conceived. I’m still baffled by how some of it was done, and mind you we now live in a world in which CGI can create anything. Bottin is an artist. As far as many fans including myself are concerned, this is his creature feature masterpiece.
Not only do the F/X still hold up, they look better than they ever have before thanks to the crystal clear, highly detailed 1080p transfer. You can see every canine tooth that makes up the dog-tongue flesh-flower that attacks Childs. Every hair on the Norris spider-head. Every strand of stretchable sinew. I can promise you have never, ever seen the movie like this before. Though grainy in some spots the picture quality is astounding for the most part, and the new DTS-HD master 5.1 audio track is the perfect complement to this visual feast.
The only part of this package that is lacking is in the extras department. The main thing that was ported over from the last Collector’s Edition DVD from 2004 is the commentary track with Russell and Carpenter. Well, sort of. There are bits and pieces from the other extras found on that disc, but here they are cut up and only appear within the movie as part of the picture-in-picture U-Control feature. What’s that, you ask?
It’s Universal’s way of delivering supplemental material on the fly to make for a truly unique experience. U-Control features can be accessed pop-up video style at any time while the film is in progress. Once it’s activated, a small picture-in-picture graphic appears, and the viewer is treated to various enhancements or behind-the-scenes footage. It’s pretty cool, but at the very least I would have liked the option to watch the goodies independent of the feature.
Other than that, if you own a Blu-ray player and are a fan of the movie, there’s no reason in the world not to get your hands on this version of the flick. Trust me when I tell you that you won’t believe your eyes. It’s almost like seeing it for the first time. Aficionados will still want to hold onto their DVD’s though, if only to be able to dig on the supplements that didn’t make the hi-def jump.
5 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5 each
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