“Man is the warmest place to hide…”
The Thing is almost the dictionary definition of a cult classic. Heavily criticised upon it’s initial release (at almost exactly the same time as E.T.), and a box office failure, The Thing found redemption in the VHS boom of the 1980s. Since then, it has undergone many critical reappraisals, and has become widely recognised as a masterpiece of both horror & science fiction film-making.
So, the plot the: Based upon the short novella “Who Goes There”, The Thing is concerned with a US Antarctic research outpost, which is visited by some distinctly unfriendly Swedish scientist who are hunting what appears to be an escaped Husky. After the Swedish scientists are killed, some of the US crew, including Kurt Russell’s nominal hero MacReady, head off to the Swedes base camp, and find it destroyed, with only corpses, and some weirdly deformed burnt remains left behind. They also discover a large block of ice which appears to have contained, well, something. After returning to their own camp, they discover that the Swedish team had discovered a large alien object buried under the ice. A quick visit shows that this was a non terrestrial vehicle, and that the mysterious block was cut from the ice nearby. They deduce that the block contained a lifeform, and it must have somehow come back to life, causing the devastation they saw at the camp.
Upon their return to their own camp, they discover that the alien lifeform has infiltrated their group, thanks to the Husky the Swedish team were hunting. As paranoia begins to seep into each members psyche, they struggle to destroy The Thing before it can escape their camp, and conquer the Earth. But who is human, and who is not?
So, thats the plot (mostly). Suffice to say, I love this film. Not only is it intelligent, it is gory, and action packed too. Indeed, it could be argued that this is John Carpenters career pinnacle in terms of pure film making craft. His handling of the actors is superb, with each cast member giving a truly believable performance. The production design is superb, helping to create an atmosphere of true isolation (thanks to filming in Alaska near to the base of a glacier), and Dean Cundey once more shows why Carpenter kept returning to him time and time again for cinematography duties with some truly superb shots.
And speaking of that cinematography, Arrow have done a magnificent job on showcasing it on this disc. A brand spanking new, and Arrow exclusive 4k remaster of the original negative was undertaken and overseen by Carpenter and Cundey. The results are amazing. The image is crisp, with the bare minimum of grain visible in darker scenes, and the stunning widescreen aspect ratio is retained perfectly. Indeed, this is probably the best that the film has looked since it’s very first screenings.
Audio is well served, too, with 2.0 stereo, 4.1 and 5.1 surround tracks available.
Extras wise, Arrow have once again outdone themselves. You get 2 commentary tracks (a legacy DVD one from Carpenter and Kurt Russel, as well as an all new one featuring some well known horror podcasters), an all new feature length documentary “Who Goes There? In Search Of The Thing”, “1982: One Amazing Summer” which is a look at the number of amazing films released that year, “The Thing: Terror Takes Shape” which is a legacy documentary from the DVD release in the late 1990s, a video of the 35th Anniversary panel from the Texas Frightmare weekend, an exclusive short film “The Thing: 27,000 Hours”, featurettes on the films fans, some outtakes, a trailer, a booklet, a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork, and on the initial pressing a cardboard slipcase. There is also a collector edition if you can find it which features a different case, and a poster & postcards.
Frankly, if you love this film, you NEED this edition.
5/5 Fiends. Totally essential.
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