(John Carpenter, 1982)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Inventive, engaging, thrilling and charismatic, Carpenter's The Thing has revealed itself to be a timeless high-water mark in the horror and sci-fi genres.
After bombing with the critics on its initial release who saw it as joining the ranks of the burgeoning 'video nasty' movement, John Carpenter's The Thing has gone on to achieve the respect it deserved decades ago to emerge as one of the defining entries in both the horror and sci-fi genre.
It stars Carpenter's go-to gung-ho leading man Kurt Russell (Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York, Elvis) who makes for a brilliant leading man in a performance that is perhaps more subtle than many will remember. As Russell's Antarctica bound helicopter pilot realises that an alien is infecting his stranded research crew, the star is required to run a gauntlet of emotions that sees him go from ignorance and defiance to fear and mistrust. Big Trouble in Antarctica this ain't.
As with The Fog, director John Carpenter knows how to tap into something primal and real despite being placing his diverse set of characters in a somewhat preposterous situation. Out in the middle of nowhere, Carpenter manages to make his snow-swept research station and set of scientists feel just as vulnerable as the suburban teenagers in Halloween.
And then come the staggering practical effects that are so inventive you're almost distracted about how stomach-churning they really are before the shock settles in. Ridley Scott employed the same tactic in his similarly toned horror smash Alien just a few years prior but Carpenter amps his ones up, taking cues from George A Romero and providing David Cronenberg with a few outlandish ideas to boot.
But what really gives The Thing its staying power is its central theme of paranoia. The "thing" of the title could infect any one of them and you'll never know until it's too late (again, ala Alien). With cabin fever an already apparent reality before any trouble starts, the characters find themselves pushed to physical and mental breaking point in the wake of witch hunts, accusations and cruel tests of character. That's the hard reality of The Thing - it turns you on the ones you should in fact be turning to for help. This is where true horror lies.
35 years on and The Thing looks terrific on Blu-ray thanks to this new restoration from a 4K scan. The Arrow Blu-ray is available in standard, steelbook and limited editions making for a collector's dream.
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
- Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative, supervised and approved by director John Carpenter and director of photography Dean Cundey
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Mono and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary by John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell
- Who Goes There? In Search of The Thing an all-new feature length documentary produced by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures exploring the history of The Thing, from the original novella to John Carpenter's terrifying science fiction classic. Featuring new interviews with the cast and crew, as well as authors, historians, and critics
- 1982: One Amazing Summer an all-new retrospective documentary produced by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures about the unforgettable films released in the summer of 1982
- John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape archive documentary on the background and production of the film
- Vintage Featurettes
- Trailers, Teasers, TV and Radio Spots
- Still Galleries
- Lobby Cards
- Book containing new writing on the film