Is One Thing (Blu-ray) Better Than Another? The Thing (Scream Factory) vs The Thing (Arrow Video)



Both Scream Factory and Arrow Video have now released John Carpenter's The Thing on blu-ray. We take a look at each of them and decide which release is the best overall.






the thing title card


SCREAM FACTORY (11/22/2016)


Disc 1: The Film


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 has 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 the 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 too long. Had Scream Factory produced this featurette, it wouldn’t be a featurette at all, but all the interviews would 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 of directors don’t want because they think 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 spaceship 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 soundscape 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 holdover 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 with 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, 1.33:1 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.


ARROW VIDEO (10/30/2017)


Who Goes There? In Search of The Thing (1h 17m, HD, 2.35:1)


Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, who made Dues Ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko, which is found on Arrow's fantastic blu-ray set of Donnie Darko, have created a fantastic documentary that gives us the entire story of The Thing. We start out with a look at author Joseph Campbell Jr's life and what drove him to write Who Goes There?, the source novella for both The Thing From Another World and John Carpenter's The Thing.


After that we go into the making of The Thing From Another World, which I found very interesting and the best thing about this doc. Until now, we haven't had an official making-of for The Thing From Another World, so this was very cool to have. We find out why the monster looks the way it does (a really funny story) and the thinking behind how to present the novel on the screen.


The last section of the doc looks at the making of John Carpenter's The Thing. We have seen this all before, so the section didn't offer anything new, which is something that I figured would happen with a film that is as beloved as The Thing.


All in all, this doc is a must watch for any fan of the film.


1982: One Amazing Summer (27m 20s, HD, 2.35:1)


Film Historians Nathaniel Tompson, John Kenneth Muir, and Anthony Taylor take a look at the summer of 1982, which saw the release of many films that would go on to become either classics or cult classics. Conan the Barbarian, The Road Warrior, Poltergeist, Blade Runner, E.T., and many more are talked about as films, but also in the context of the summer that bore them.


This is a really interesting doc that feels unfinished. When the filmmakers get to August, they one of the historians says "There are so many more films to talk about" and then never talk about them. I don't know if Ballyhoo is going to come back to this subject or if they could only do 30 minutes or under for this doc, but it just kind of ends.


Still, it is worth a watch and entertaining as hell.


John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape (1h 24m, SD, 1.33:1)


This fantastic documentary that covers the whole making of The Thing is also featured on the Scream Factory disc and talked about above.


NoThing Left Unsaid: A Texas Frightmare Panel (55m 8s, HD)


Dean Cundey, Thomas Waites, Keith David, and Wilford Brimley, with moderation from Ryan Turek, are on hand to tell stories about the making of The Thing. There are some great stories to be had with Waites and David having the best time. Brimly talks a bit and his stories are very heartfelt. Cundey serves up the technical questions, but also wants in on some of the fun had by the others.


The Thing: 27,000 Hours (6m 1s, HD, 2.35:1)


Shot for the 2011 London FrightFest, this short film, that could take place after the events of The Thing, shows us how a simple blood test could turn into a pandemic.


The short film can be viewed with commentary by director Sean Hogan and Arrow Podcast hosts Sam Armhurst and Dan Martin.


Fans of The Thing:


         -Outpost #31: History And Impact of the Fans (15m 42s, HD)
        
Todd Cameron, founder of the fansite Outpost 31, on the site's past, present, and future. We learn that Cameron used to run a Thing-Fest from 2001 to 2008, with no reason given on why it was ended. He also talks about his visit to Stewart, British Colombia where The Thing was filmed.


         -We've Found Something in the Ice: A Fan's Journey (5m 38s, HD, 2.35:1)


Peter Abbott, a diehard fan of The Thing and member of the Outpost 31 forums, talks about his trip to Stewart, British Colombia, where he found pieces of the set and props used during filming. He then takes one of the pieces to a John Carpenter concert where Carpenter signs it and takes pictures with it and Abbott.


         -The Thing Tribute Artwork by Danny Wagner (24 images)


Production Archive


-Production Background (30 Images)


-Cast Production Photographs (16 Images)


-Production Art and Storyboards (53 Images)


-Location Design (69 Images)


-Production Archives (62 Images)


-The Saucer (48 Images)


-The Blairmonster (45 Images)


-Outtakes (8 Images)


-Post Production (29 Images)
-Trailer (1m 58s, HD, 1.33:1)


Audio Commentary with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell


This is a legacy commentary track that has appeared on every release of the film since it was recorded for the Signature Collection Laserdisc back in the mid-90’s. My thoughts on the track can be found on the section of the Scream Factory disc.


Audio Commentary with Podcasters Mike White (The Projection Booth), Patrick Bromley (F! This Movie), and El Goror (Talk Without Rhythm)





SCREAM FACTORY (11/22/2016)


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.


ARROW VIDEO (10/30/2017)

A look at everything that comes with the thing blu-ray from arrow video

The packaging for The Thing is beautiful. The outer box is a chipboard box, like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Phenomena. The box is sturdy feels really good in the hands.  Everything contained inside slides into the box from the right-hand side (if looking at the cover.)

front cover of the thing from arrow video

The front cover of this box features a play on the film's original poster. We see a winter coat with a hood that has fur on it like the characters wear in the film. Inside the hood, we see the Outpost #31 with a helicopter flying over it and lightning striking the power poles. A nice, starry sky looms over the outpost. The snow and ice in the foreground have a giant crack running towards it. This artwork, along with the other original pieces found in this set, was done by Gary Pullin.

the back cover from the thing from arrow video

The back cover gives us all of the information that we need about this release: Synopsis of the film, list of special features, and techs specs


Inside, we are greeted with a U.K. style, clear blu-ray case. The artwork is reversible. On one side we get the artwork seen on the cover minus the coat and hood. On the reverse side, we have the film's original theatrical poster.

disc art for the blu-ray of the thing from arrow video

The disc contains cover art that is the same as the commissioned artwork.


Also inside the case, we find eight collector's postcards that resemble smaller lobby cards.

Onto the other items in the box:



We have a 36-page booklet that features some really cool artwork on the front and back covers. Inside, we have two essays, Some Thing Wicked This Way Comes by Violet Lucca, and In Defense of John Carpenter's The Thing by Kevin Alexander Boon. We also have notes about the film's restoration and credits for the booklet and packaging.


Last, but not least, we have a double sided folded poster featuring the same artwork that is found on the blu-ray case.

The disc is REGION B (locked)




Scream Factory Release

Arrow Video Release

SCREAM FACTORY (11/22/2016)

The Scream Factory transfer is the result of a brand new 2K scan taken from the interpositive. This is not the same as the film's negative, but it still yields a very nice picture.

Colors are bright, but the contrast seems to have been turned up a lot as the colors start to bleed into over colors. This results in colors not being the right colors. Yellows and oranges seem to turn to purple. This does not happen to all of the colors, meaning that the contrast dial wasn't turned in every scene, but it is very noticeable when flairs are used in the film.There is also a slight blue filter that was applied to scenes that take place outside. Snow looks bluer than ever when it should be white.

Detail is very nice in close-up and long shots. The matte paintings used in the film have never looked better and we can see everything.

There is very little grain found in this transfer, but that doesn't mean there should be any. I have seen this film many times, including a few times on the big screen and I have never seen a lot of grain. The picture has been sharpened up a lot too. While this may make the picture look better to most, this does not give us a faithful representation of what the film is supposed to look like.

Still, this is the best that The Thing has ever looked on home video and Scream should be commended for their efforts, even if the picture isn't the most representative of what the film is supposed to look like. They have gotten closer than any other company, so they deserve a lot of praise for that.

Scream Factory Release
Arrow Video Release

ARROW VIDEO (10/30/2017)

Arrow Video has given us a 4K restoration from the film's original negative and the results are gorgeous. The first thing that I noticed was that the film felt like I was watching it on film. This is a result of using the negative instead of the interpositive, but there is so much more at play here. Colors are vibrant and accurate. Snow looks like snow, flairs look like flairs. The film also has no DNR  or unnecessary processing done to it so the film looks like it did back in 1982. After looking at my review from last year for the Scream Factory disc, I can say that I was right at the time, kind of. I still think that the Scream Factory disc looks good, but more as an alternative or a comparison piece than anything else. You can look at the Scream Factory disc and compare it to the Arrow disc and see what the film is supposed to look like with the Arrow disc. I am really happy with the Arrow transfer and would say that it is probably one of the best restorations I have seen in 2017.

Scream Factory Release
Arrow Video Release






SCREAM FACTORY (11/22/2016)

The 4.1 mix, which is the one that I listened to, is outstanding. You get a real sense for the environment that Carpenter creates for the film and the sense of dread that slowly creeps into the film. The score by Ennio Morricone sounds great and adds to that sense of dread. Dialogue is crisp and clear.

ARROW VIDEO (10/30/2017)

The 4.1 mix presented here sounds just like the 4.1 track on the Scream disc. I didn't hear anything different, so it safe to say that they are the same.








US research station, Antarctica, early-winter 1982. The base is suddenly buzzed by a helicopter from the nearby Norwegian research station. They are trying to kill a dog that has escaped from their base. After the destruction of the Norwegian chopper, the members of the US team fly to the Norwegian base, only to discover them all dead or missing. They do find the remains of a strange creature the Norwegians burned. The Americans take it to their base and deduce that it is an alien life form. After a while, it is apparent that the alien can take over and assimilate into other life forms, including humans, and can spread like a virus. This means that anyone at the base could be inhabited by The Thing, and tensions escalate

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 character 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

SCREAM FACTORY (11/22/2016)

The Film10
The Picture7
The Sound9
The Features9.5
The Packaging8.5

Summary

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.
8.5
Overall Score



ARROW VIDEO
The Film10
The Picture10
The Sound9
The Features9
The Packaging10

Summary

As much as I loved the Scream Factory disc, the Arrow Video disc is the true revelation. The picture is outstanding, giving the film the proper look. Arrow really went all the way with this transfer and I really doubt that we will ever see anything better on the format. (A 4K disc would look better, but it would be sourced from the same transfer) The special features are fantastic as well. The doc on the book and the films is a must watch and there really isn't anything that I didn't like about this disc. Arrow has done right by The Thing and fans need to seek this version out.
9.5
Overall Score




The Winner is: Arrow Video

While the Scream Factory release has more special features, both releases have exclusive features. The reason that Arrow is the winner is that Arrow has the better picture, the better packaging, and the better features. The Scream features are good, but there are only a few that stand out. I have to give it to Arrow because, at the end of the day, they seemed to care more about the film and way it is presented, both as a film and as a package. The Scream release still has a lot and if you can, get both releases. The film is worth it.


Below are screenshots for the different releases. The Scream Factory release also contains the TV version of the film, so I did some screenshots for that too.


Scream Factory Release


The Theatrical Version:






























TV Version:



















Arrow Video Release