The Thing (1982) Blu-ray Review (Just the Features)

By | November 22, 2016 Leave a Comment

A brand new transfer, two discs full of special features, and a great company releasing it. What could go wrong? (Hint: NOTHING)


Released by: Scream Factory

Release Date: Jun. 25th, 1982 (Theatrical)
                        Oct. 11th, 2016 (Blu-ray)

Region Code: A (LOCKED)

Run Time: 1h 49m

Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 
             English: DTS-HD Master Audio 4.1
             English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Video: 1080p (2.35:1 Aspect Ratio)



DISC 1: THE MOVIE ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Commentary with Director of Photography Dean Cundey (Found in Set Up menu)

Moderated by Rob Galluzzo (senior editor at Blumhouse.com), this commentary track is very dry, but does contain some good information and stories. Cundey seems that he needs someone to get him to talk and I think that Scream Factory could have picked someone better. Galluzzo does an o.k. job, but his questions are not very interesting and the track suffers because of that.

Commentary with Co-Producer Stuart Cohen (Found in Set Up menu)

Moderated by Michael Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures, this is a much better track than the Dean Cundey track. Felsher asks a lot of really good and interesting questions that, not only pertain to the film, but also Cohen’s career. Cohen is very open to Felsher’s questions and keeps talking long after the question has been answered. This is the type of commentary tracks fans like.

Commentary with director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell

This track belongs in the hall of fame of commentary tracks. All commentary tracks are judged against this track. First appearing on laserdisc as part of Universal’s Signature Collection, this track would become a mainstay of every home video release of The Thing. This track deserves it.
Carpenter and Russell are having a blast watching the film and talking about, not just the film, but their personal lives as well. These guys are really funny and dole out the information about the making of the film.

Theatrical and Teaser Trailers
         
            -Theatrical Trailers (3m 27s, HD 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio)

Here we get two trailers. They are both in very rough form, and in the wrong aspect ratio, but do a decent of selling the film.  

-German Trailer (1m 47s, HD)

This is just the American theatrical trailer with German title cards and a German dub.

-Teaser Trailer (1m 22s, HD, 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

Terrible Teaser. Does nothing to sell the film.

TV Spots (1m 35s, HD 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

3 TV spots. All of them are pretty much the same.

Radio Spots (2m 27s, HD Audio)

There are four radio spots to be found and each of them starts with a song, then the song gets interrupted by the distressed call from the film before revealing the title of the film and if it is out yet.

I love radio spots because we don’t get them anymore. It was always fun to hear something like this on the radio because the ad guys had to figure out a way to advertise something visual without being able to use the visuals. I wish that more companies would put radio spots on their respective blu-rays.

Still Galleries

                -Behind the Scenes (55 images)
                
                -Lobby Cards and Press Stills (49 images)
                
                -Programs (18 Images
                
                -Posters (21 Images)
                
                -Storyboards (28 Images)
                
                -Production Artwork (14 Images)

As anyone who has read any of my reviews before should know, I hate still galleries. I get the point on why they are here, but they are not for me.


DISC 2: THE SPECIAL FEATURES

Interviews
         
            -Requiem For A Shapeshifter (28m 39s, HD)

John Carpenter and Mick Garris sit down for a discussion about the film and its legacy. Garris and Carpenter are old friends, both of them are comfortable and open. I found out from this featurette that Garris worked on The Thing in some capacity. He claims to have told Carpenter that if the film did do well in theaters then it would become a cult classic.

I found this featurette to be really interesting and informative. I liked that Garris and Carpenter are friends so there wasn’t an awkwardness that I have seen in featurettes where the interviewer and interviewee don’t know each other.

The Men of Outpost 31 (51m 14s, HD)

Keith David, Willford Brimley, David Clennon, Joel Polis, Thomas G. Waites, Peter Maloney, and Richard Masur are all interviewed for this featurette that focuses on their time on the set of The Thing.

I really liked this featurette. Everyone involved have great stories to tell, especially when it comes to how they came up with their characters and their interactions with each other. I also liked this featurette because it was, like most of new featurettes found on this disc, produced by Red Shirt Pictures. They do get stuff and have been for more than 10 years. They know how to make the interviews shine and also know how to edit to make everything flow better. Scream Factory, who also released this disc, needs to learn a thing or two from Red Shirt Pictures. Scream’s featurettes and interviews run on for way to long. Had Scream Factory produced this featurette, it wouldn’t be a featurette at all, but all the interviews would be have their own place. There would be 20 different interviews instead of one featurette.

Assembling and Assimilation (11m 9s, HD)

Editor Todd Ramsey talks about his work on The Thing. He talks about how he had to fight hard to keep the fades in the film. Fades are something that a lot directors don’t want because they thing that they hurt the film’s pacing, but done right, they can help with the pacing. He also talks about Carpenter shooting a “safe” ending. It was brought up in studio meetings, but Carpenter stood his ground.

Behind the Chameleon (25m 26s, HD)

Peter Kuran and Susan Turner talk about the work they did on the film. They did the miniatures and the title card at the beginning. Turner still has the space ship from the film. Very informative.

Sounds From the Cold (14m 53s, HD)

Alan Howarth talks about his time working on the music for the film. He didn’t write the score (Ennio Morricone did), but he did add cues that Carpenter wanted for bits that Morricone didn’t score. We then have an interview with David Lewis Yewdall, who was the supervising sound editor on the film. He talks about the sound scape that he helped create for the film and how some of it was created.

Between the Lines (15m 58s, HD)

Author Alan Dean Foster talks about the novelization he wrote for the film. He gives us a history of the original story. He also talks about how the novel has a different ending than the film because the filmmakers hadn’t decided how to end the film.

I really liked this interview. I learned a lot about, not just the novelization process, but also why novelizations sometimes differ from the film they are novelizing.


More of The Thing
         
            -Network Television Broadcast Version of The Thing (1h 33m, SD 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

Brought to us from a pretty bad taping, this version of the film has the language and violence and gore removed and adds some scenes that were cut from the theatrical version of the film.
There is a hissing sound that is present throughout the film, making it a difficult endeavor to sit through.  I did find interest in how the network was going to cut around the violence and gore (terribly). I also found it funny that the network decided to add a narrator to the film, reading text that shows up on screen and also giving us background on each of the characters. This would be worth a watch with a few friends.

-John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape (1h 24m, SD, 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

As with the Carpenter/Russell commentary track, this documentary is not just a hold over from the Signature Collection Laserdisc, but is also one of the best making-ofs ever made. Sure, we get longer docs about films like Blade Runner and Halloween (2007), but few can match the detailed information found here. We get interviews by most of the cast and crew and there is not a stone unturned when this doc ends. Pure bliss.

-The Making of a Chilling Tale (5m 14s, SD, 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

Shot during production, we get to see some really interesting behind the scenes footage of Carpenter and company at work, along with interviews with Carpenter and Russell.

-The Making of The Thing (9m 20s, SD, 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

This EPK is narrated by someone different than the last featurette, but shows us the same footage as before.  Nothing new to see here.


Featurettes
         
            -The Art of Mike Ploog (12m 21s, HD)

Storyboards from the film played to the score from the film. This is just a glorified still gallery.

-Back into the Cold (11m 16s, HD)

The locations revisited with narration by Todd Cameron from outpost31.com. If anyone was thinking that this featurette would be like the Hallowed Grounds featurettes that Sean Clarke does then you are sorely mistaken. This is a slideshow of pictures taken during a visit to the town outside of the glacier the film was shot on. On top of this poorly edited package, we get some terrible audio from the narrator. It sounds like he is across the room from the microphone. Cameron’s heart is in the right place.

-Outtakes (5m 19s, SD, 1.33: Aspect ratio)

These aren’t really outtakes as we have come to know, but scenes that were added to the broadcast version of the film. Carpenter cut these scenes for a reason and does not condone their use in the broadcast version.

-Vintage Featurettes (13m 20s, SD, 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

2 Featurettes are included here and they are more or less the same as the EPKs found on the disc.

-Vintage Product Reel (19m 38s, SD, 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio)

Scenes from the film play, and sometimes a narrator comes on and says something.

-Vintage Behind the Scenes Footage (2m 28s, SD)

Title says it all.

-Annotated Production Archive (54m 12s)

Another still gallery, this time with notes.


THE PACKAGING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


This 2 disc blu-ray edition comes house in a non-eco friendly blu-ray case. The artwork on both discs is nice and simple,  but still attractive.


The artwork for the set is reversible, with one side being the commissioned artwork and the other being the original theatrical poster art.





Both discs are Region A LOCKED.


THE FILM: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Thing is the very definition of “cult classic”. The film flopped when released in the summer of 1982, but gained a cult following with the release of the laserdisc in 1998. Sure there were fans of the film before that, but the laserdisc is often cited as the major turning point for the film.

I love The Thing. I think that this Carpenter best film and is also one of his best looking films. Carpenter plays the audience like a finely tuned instrument for a good twenty minutes before giving us the first of many grotesque scenes in the film. I would have loved to have been an audience member when the film was first released. Not knowing what is coming, seeing things that we have never seen before. It would have been a real treat to see this with an unsuspecting audience.

What today’s youth has to remember is that we didn’t have the internet, nor did we have torture porn around when The Thing was released. We couldn’t go onto YouTube and look up scenes from a film.
We had to actually go out and see the film to see what the fuss was about.

We also didn’t have directors like Rob Zombie or Eli Roth, who make films just to show people a lot of gore with no substance. We had the Friday the 13th series. That was really what our gore counter was back in the day.  “Is it gorier than Friday the 13th?”. Nowadays, we see gore and wonder if it can ever be topped.


The Thing also has substance, something a lot of horror films don’t have today. We cared about these characters and didn’t want to see them die. We definitely didn’t want to see them die in the gruesome and disturbing ways the characters are taken out in this film. I don’t think that I have seen very many films where a characters is killed when one of his friend’s head bursts apart and bites into the character, then starts flinging him around like a ragdoll.

Rob Bottin’s effects are ones for the record books. The stuff that he came up with for this film has not really been topped, even 35 years later. A dog’s head peels open like a banana, a chest cavity opens up to reveal teeth, a man’s head separates from its body and then grows legs and walks away like a spider, etc. There are a lot of fucked up things in this film, but we get past all that and enjoy the film.
Carpenter and DP Dean Cundey fill this film with dread and depression. The film itself is not depressing, not like Lucio Fulci’s Zombie from a few years earlier. The film is a blast to watch, but it is the atmosphere that is depressing.  There is fear lurking around every corner and we never know what to expect.

The first time I saw The Thing I was impressed but not overly excited about the film. I do think that the effects and gore hurt the film’s box office because people were not used to seeing that much gore on screen, let alone THAT much gore. I think that Carpenter and company put too much gore into the film. I don’t want the film to be changed and think that it is one of the best films ever made, but there was too much for the audience to handle back then.

I wish that Carpenter would make one final film. A big one. One that he puts as much heart and soul as he did with The Thing. It is a pipe dream, but just imagine what that film would be like. It would be great. The Thing is still great, no matter what anyone else says.


OVERALL: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Carpenter made one of the best films of all time and Scream Factory has put together a nice package. We get three commentaries, two of which are worth a listen, and a whole slew of docs, featurettes, and other things related to The Thing. The remaster picture looks amazing and the sound is excellent. This is a must buy for fans of the film and horror and sci-fi fans alike.


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