The Thing Collector’s Edition
Directed by John Carpenter.
Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis, Thomas Waites.
The Thing arrives on Blu-ray again in a comprehensive two-disc set from Shout! Factory. All the previously released bonus features are included, along with about two-and-a-half hours of new interviews and two new commentary tracks. This Collector’s Edition also offers a new 2K scan of the film print. Highly recommended.
Did you notice that The Thing movie poster on the basement wall in Stranger Things? (Of course you did.) Interesting that the creators of that series chose that bit of 80s ephemera, rather than a poster for E.T. or Poltergeist, two films that crushed Carpenter’s now-classic movie at the box office in 1982.
Sure, that Thing poster was a gun on the mantelpiece alluding to the sinister creature that would be menacing the kids in Stranger Things, but I’d like to think that it was also chosen because The Thing is so much cooler than E.T. and Poltergeist. How many websites and viewing parties are devoted to those two films?
As someone in one of the new interviews conducted for this excellent two-Blu-ray set from Shout! Factory notes, Universal set up The Thing for nearly certain doom when it released the movie during the weekend between E.T., which was directed by Steven Spielberg, and Poltergeist, a film he produced. And yet, despite the drubbing it received, it found a new life on home video and became a classic.
If you’re a fan, this set is a no-brainer purchase. It features a new 2K scan that was supervised and approved by director of photography Dean Cundey, who also recorded a new commentary track. I don’t have enough know-how to judge the new transfer, but from what I’ve read on websites well-versed in such things, it’s excellent. There are also three audio options, including a new 4.1 DTS-HD mix, if you’re into such things.
The Cundey commentary is moderated by Blumhouse.com’s Rob Galluzo. There’s another new commentary with co-producer Stuart Cohen, which is moderated by Thing fan and film historian Michael Felsher. They’re enjoyable listens, as is the commentary with director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell – That one is the same track found in earlier releases, but it’s worth hearing if you haven’t checked it out before. Carpenter is always fun to listen to. (He did a great interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast not long ago, by the way.)
Carpenter is also interviewed by Mick Garris for the first of six new interviews conducted for this set and included on the second disc. That one runs almost half an hour and is called Requiem for a Shapeshifter. The other new interviews are:
- The Men of Outpost 31 (51 minutes): New interviews with the cast, except Russell (and maybe one or two others; I’m not sure).
- Assembling and Assimilation (11 minutes): A chat with editor Todd Ramsay.
- Behind the Chameleon (25 minutes): A discussion of the creature effects with visual effects supervisor Peter Kuran.
- Sounds from the Cold (15 minutes): A conversation with sound effects and music guy Alan Howarth.
- Between the Lines (16 minutes): A chat with Alan Dean Foster, who wrote the adaptation. Foster has written tons of movie adaptations, including, most notably, the first Star Wars movie (Lucas took the credit, though, I suppose for marketing reasons). I can’t recall seeing an interview with an adaptation writer on a home video release before, so this is a welcome treat.
The rest of the bonus features are found on the second Blu-ray and are all ported over from the earlier Blu-ray and DVD releases. The first Blu-ray was pretty anemic, so you can safely get rid of it. The rest of the disc includes:
- The network TV broadcast version of The Thing, which is notable for some oddities, such as the narration that introduces the characters. It also includes many bits of alternate footage. It’s pan-and-scan and the quality is poor, but it’s worthwhile viewing for fans who enjoy mining every little bit of information they can find.
- The Thing: Terror Takes Shape, an 84-minute documentary from the original DVD that digs deep into the making of the movie.
- Archival featurettes that include behind-the-scenes footage and on-set interviews. Two minutes of behind-the-scenes footage is included separately, along with five minutes of outtakes.
- A production archive that runs nearly an hour, along with a 20-minute product reel that was used in 1982 to sell the movie to theater owners.
- The Art of Mike Ploog (12 minutes), which goes through the comic book artist’s storyboards for the movie.
- Back into the Cold (11 minutes), a photo tour of some of the film’s locations, which a couple fans visited several years ago.
Jumping back to the first disc, it also includes theatrical and teaser trailers, TV and radio spots, and still galleries.
Whew. That’s an amazing amount of content. Shout! Factory deserves a “We’re not worthy!” bow from fans of The Thing for this set.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★