What really is there left to say about John Carpenter’s The Thing? A true genre classic from 1982, the film is an all-time favourite of many and often cited as a sci-fi horror masterclass. So, thirty-five years on from its initial release, Arrow Video have put together a rather splendid looking release of this iconic movie. The key question, of course, is whether this new release is worth shilling out for.
Surely there isn’t anybody out there unfamiliar with The Thing, but here’s a quick rundown of the central plot. Handed the tagline of “The ultimate in alien terror,” a cast headed up by the likes of Kurt Russell and Keith David have to deal with an intense, shape-shifting alien menace. Set in Antarctica, we see an isolated research team battling an organism that mirrors the form of anything it comes in contact with – meaning that the group don’t know who to trust as the Ennio Morricone-scored tension rises amidst the possibility that any one of them could well be this alien ‘thing’.
As mentioned, you likely already know all of this and you have likely gushed over The Thing just as much as we all have over the decades since its release. So, let’s get to the meat of this release: is it a worthwhile purchase? To get to the point, it’s an unequivocal yes from us. While plenty of the crammed bonus material on display here has been seen before on previous releases of Carpenter’s much-loved classic, longtime fans of the film will be squealing in excitement over some of the new material that’s included here. On that front, there’s the fascinating one-hour-plus Who Goes There? In Search of The Thing documentary that looks at The Thing from its infancy as a John W. Campbell-penned novel right through to Carpenter’s ’82 movie and beyond, complete with new soundbites and involvement from all of the key players. In addition to this, there’s the also-new 1982: One Amazing Summer documentary that serves as a retrospective of sorts. And, of course, there’s the audio commentary track from Messrs Carpenter and Russell that can’t help but put a grin on your face as two of genre’s finest figures guide you through this cherished picture.
While the new material and chat track will instantly make this new release a must-have for John Carpenter fans, equally as mesmerising and worthy of spending your money for is the new restoration of the movie. Much like the 35th anniversary release of Carpenter’s Halloween a few years ago, this swanky restoration has been overseen by longtime Carpenter collaborator and cinematographer Dean Cundey. And just as was the case with that Halloween release, this new release of The Thing looks absolutely phenomenal. As crisp as a winter’s day, The Thing has never looked better and it only further serves to emphasise just how wonderfully shot the film is, how pitch-perfect all of the performances are for what was needed – including, of course, Kurt Russell and his magnificent bastard of a beard on arguably career-best form – and just how jaw-droppingly twisted, effective and revolutionary the SFX work of Rob Bottin and his team was and continues to be.
With any new release of an old favourite – especially one like this where there have already been several releases over the years – there’s always that worry of whether it’s a case of milking a cow one too many times. Fear not, though, for this packed new release of The Thing is worth every penny, and it feels justified for the excellent special features and truly beautiful 4K restoration.
Special Features: Audio commentary with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell / ‘Who Goes There? In Search of The Thing’ documentary / ‘1982: One Amazing Summer’ documentary / ‘John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape’ documentary / Vintage featurettes / Outtakes / Behind the scenes / Trailers and TV spots / Still galleries / Poster / Lobby cards / Book containing new writing on the film
THE THING / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: JOHN CARPENTER / SCREENPLAY: BILL LANCASTER / STARRING: KURT RUSSELL, KEITH DAVID, DAVID CLENNON, THOMAS G. WAITES, T.K. CARTER, WILFORD BRIMLEY / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 23RD