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The Thing (1982) – DVD Review

The Thing DVD cover art


Written by: Bill Lancaster, based on the short story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Directed by: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, Keith David, Richard Masur


  • Running commentary with Kurt Russell and John Carpenter
  • “John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape,” an 80 minute original documentary featuring interviews with Carpenter, Kurt Russell, special effects make up designer Rob Bottin, legendary matte artist Albert Whitlock, plus other members of the cast, crew and special effects team
  • Never-before seen stop motion animation footage cut from the film
  • Exclusive work-in-progress visual effects footage
  • Behind-the-scenes location footage
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Outtakes from the film
  • Behind-the-scenes photographs
  • Storyboards and conceptual art
  • Annotated production archive

Released by: Universal
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Own it.

[ad#longpost]The year is 1982, and a group of twelve scientists stationed at an Antarctic research station has found something. Whatever it is, it’s been buried in the snow and ice for over 100,000 years. We open with a desperate sled dog running from Norwegians, all of whom are bent on the dog’s demise. The dog befriends our twelve-man group, and in a tragic turn of events the scientists are left with more questions than answers. They attempt to retrace the steps of the Norwegians and figure out what’s up, and find themselves looking at an alien spaceship buried in the snow and ice. From this point on the movie is full of twists and turns that build suspense and keep the audience of the edge of their seats. What is The Thing, who can be trusted, and who–if anyone–is covering your back?

The movie is officially a cult classic. If you subscribe to the official Cult Classic magazine then you’ve seen it listed. You know it’s good. And interestingly, it’s the second cult classic based on the same work. Carpenter‘s The Thing can trace its roots to the 1951 version directed by Christian Nyby, The Thing from Another World, which is also a fine piece of cinematic science fiction. Both films are based on writer John W. Campbell, Jr’s novella, “Who Goes There?”, but its actually Carpenter’s version which stays truer to the original work. Here you have a shapeshifting chameleon, where in the 50s it was James Arness as a bipedal vegetable creature.

The film contains a score composed by the incomparable Ennio Morricone, done in a delightfully Carpenterish style. The effects work is top notch, especially for early 1980s and the direction is excellent. This is Carpenter at his finest.

The crater from The Thing
Oh, this isn't going to end well, is it?

Now wait a minute, you say, “I was around in 1982, and I don’t remember this movie in the theaters. How can it be good?” Well, let me remind you: there was another alien around in ’82. A little guy with a glowing finger. That’s right, The Thing opened just two weeks after E.T. and simply got lost in the commotion. Does that make this any less of a great movie? Absolutely not; it lives on in VHS rentals, late night cable, and now a glorious DVD.

That’s right, it does not disappoint. When it was released several years ago, it was actually one of the first sci-fi cult pieces to get a good work up on DVD format. With the running commentary by Carpenter and Russell as well as storyboards, creature artwork and the 80-minute behind the scenes featurette there is enough here to provide hours of mind numbing couch warming.

Kurt Russell and hat from The Thing
Kurt Russell is *working* that hat.

While the expectations for DVDs continue to rise, if you put this one in the context of when it was released and what it has on it–the sucker was a trendsetter.

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