The Thing

The Thing

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Read David Graham's film review of The Thing

As soon as it opens onto what ought to be a vast, snowy landscape, the weakness of The Thing on the small screen becomes apparent. At first it just reduces its impact but in later scenes where characters are running around in the dark and the viewer must interpret the action through tiny details, it actually makes it quite hard to follow. This is a shame because in every other way the DVD improves on the film in its cinema form.

Many of the weaknesses of this film would appear to stem from the fact it was made by fans of the original, people so passionate about what they were working on that they couldn't see its flaws. That enthusiasm sadly doesn't show much in the film itself but the DVD has it in spades and the result is very engaging, especially for others who love the Carpenter original and horror and science fiction more generally. Two featurettes - one about the development of the monster and one about, um, setting fire to things - are packed with fascinating anecdotes, charmingly recounted. The culture clash between the hard drinking Norwegian A-listers and slightly overwhelmed American B-listers on set is the source of much humour, though everybody seems to have got along well. Cast members talk excitedly about the thrill of pointing flamethrowers at one another and there's also fun with animatronics.

Copy picture

Alongside this is a collection of deleted scenes and longer versions of included ones. Several of these are better than the material in the finished film and they show the different direction it might have taken. They're also interesting in that they add to our understanding of how the team tried to match their story to the original (forensically recreating the base camp found ruined by Carpenter's characters), a process expounded in more detail in the featurettes. It's easy to see how they became obsessive about it and it will draw your attention to some clever work you might otherwise miss.

Then there's the commentary. This is very engaging - one has the sense that there are many more stories to be told about each scene, as the commentators often struggle to keep up - and it's interesting throughout.

Finally, there are the subtitles. Viewers with visual impairments would be well advised to use the English ones from the start because those attached to the film itself, translating remarks in Norwegian, are very small and may present problems on the small screen. The ones supplied on the DVD are better and a good number of languages are covered.

Reviewed on: 26 Mar 2012
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The Thing packshot
At an Antarctica research site, the discovery of an alien craft leads to a confrontation between graduate student Kate Lloyd and scientist Dr. Sander Halvorson.
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Product Code: B005NYMXIU

Region: 2

Extras: Extra scenes, featurettes, commentary, subtitles.

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