I’m not even sure where I can begin with this movie. The Thing is a perennial classic. One of those movies that you always see compared to others in critic reviews and such. You know, stuff like, “This generation’s The Thing!” It’s one of those absolutely perfect horror movies, one that just punches you to the gut and doesn’t let you catch your breath until the end credits. The Thing is one of those movies. This is simply a movie that belongs in the collection of any horror enthusiast. Absolutely stirring from beginning to end, The Thing remains one of those great horror movies, even today.
Horror-meister John Carpenter (Halloween, Escape from New York) teams with Kurt Russell’s outstanding performance with incredible visuals to build this chilling version of the classic The Thing. In the winter of 1982, a twelve-man research team at a remote Antarctic research station discovers an alien buried in the snow for over 100,000 years. Soon unfrozen, the form-changing alien wreaks havoc, creates terror, and becomes one of them. Soon the research team find themselves unable to trust each other yet determined to make it alive, made all the more difficult as the hard snow pounds down over them.
I remember seeing this movie in my childhood and being utterly terrified when, later in the movie, we see the email reveal itself and transform into this disgusting figure. The alien just bursts forth from the dog it was imitating and, god; it’s such a horrific scene. Now, it gets crazier from there, and there are even more freaky visuals, but this one will always stay with me for one reason or another. And, as I revisited a few years ago on DVD and now again on Blu-ray, I find this movie remains as effective and terrifying as ever. Now, I look at the movie a little differently and while I’m still completely enthralled by it, I can enjoy it more for the great story than the still-chilling scares.
The Thing is an absolutely perfect movie for Carpenter. After scaring the hell out of us with Halloween, he turned around and made arguably the scariest horror-alien movie since Alien. It just works in so many levels. It brings the threat to us and just shows us the damage it can do. Sure, it’s just a twelve man-crew, but still, the idea that it could spread and what it could do if it did. And just the ending…the downright cynical ending is unforgettable. I always thought how Carpenter opened the movie, the simple visual of a helicopter trying to chase a runaway dog, which goes awry, and how it ends, which I won’t spoil, but it’s a great ending, plain and simple. It’s really effective.
Russell does a great job commanding the cast, made of mostly unknowns at the time. In effect, Carpenter really excels in making this movie feel so real, making the tension and paranoia so palpable and real. Every bit of dialogue, no matter what, sounds so suspicious and, at times, devious. This paranoia becomes so overwhelming that, at times, you feel the research team would rather prove each other wrong than live. And since the alien is thrust into the spotlight quite quickly, everything escalates at a quick pace as the Things tries to avoid detection. Confusion kicks up as the situation continues to deteriorate and Carpenter translates this directly to the viewer, sucking us right into the story.
One of the best horror movies of all-time and a favorite among movie buffs and horror enthusiasts, The Things remains as riveting as ever. Led by Russell in probably his best film role ever, spearheaded by a brilliant Carpenter behind the camera, this is a movie I guarantee that will stay with you. On top of that, this is one you’ll also want to revisit it again and again. The Thing, now on Blu-ray, is a Must See and deserves a space on a burgeoning Blu-ray shelf. It’s a flat-out excellent movie, one which sucks you in, gets you absorbed into the paranoia and confusion, and hooked until the stinging finale. They just don’t make them like The Thing anymore.
Arriving as part of a trio of horror flicks, The Thing lands on Blu-ray in similar fashion to its previous DVD and HD-DVD releases. The disc itself comes in a standard Blu-ray case, complete with an insert advertising other Blu-ray films as well as disc art that mimics a selected portion of the cover art. Menus for the film are laid out in the same way as all Universal Blu-ray’s and are simple and easy to navigate—no fuss or confusion about it. What there will be fuss over is the way the extras are presented, but that seems to be the norm for Universal Blu-ray releases it seems.
As odd as it may seem, older films really shine on the Blu-ray format in ways that new ones just can’t compete. There’s something about the image detail and depth that you just don’t see in modern made films as often for some reason and The Thing is no exception to this. It not only boasts an incredible amount of detail in its VC-1 encoded image, but the picture becomes vibrant in all the right places, while continuing the dark hue moments whenever possible. Occasionally there is a grain filled scene, but nothing that really detracts from ones overall enjoyment of the film. The included DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is just as impressive, with Ennio Morricone’s score coming through in full force, accompanied by the films many sound effects that make full use of the surrounds.
Unfortunately those hoping for new extras will be disappointed. The old laserdisc commentary with Kurt Russell and John Carpenter is included once again and as old as it is, it’s still worth listening to (in fact it may because it’s so old that that IS the reason to listen to it). The pair give plenty of insight into the film and its production, all the while making for a relaxed and entertaining environment. Sadly that’s where the extras end, as the rest are embedded in Universal’s U-Control where you are forced to either watch the film again or flip through them one by one and view them without any real context given. Not a terrible way to view them, but still kind of disappointing.
Overall a solid Blu-ray release that certainly packs in a solid level of detail into the image and audio portion, but the extras and how they’re laid out on the disc are lacking. Still, if you don’t already own the HD-DVD edition (or are upgrading from it for whatever reason), The Thing is certainly one to own. Highly Recommended.
The Thing is now available on Blu-ray.
This review was co-written by James Harvey (film portion) and Zach Demeter (Blu-ray portion).