|Category||Horror||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono|
|Year Released||1982||Commentary Tracks||Yes, 1 - John Carpenter (Director) & Kurt Russell (Actor)|
|Running Time||104:06 minutes||Other Extras||Menu Audio
Featurette-John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape (80:34)
Gallery-Production Background Archive
Photo Gallery-Cast Production Photographs
Gallery-Production Art & Storyboards
Cast & Crew Biographies
Columbia TriStar Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||No||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96 Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
John Carpenter's The Thing did not exactly romp home at the box office when it was first released theatrically, but has gathered momentum over the years and is now considered a cult classic of the horror/science-fiction genre.
Set in Antarctica in 1982, the story revolves around the discovery of an alien deeply buried in the Antarctic ice. This alien assimilates other species and can change form, mimicking these other species. This alien is nasty.
Kurt Russell (MacReady) is a scientist at a US scientific outpost in the Antarctic who is forced to do battle with the shape-shifting alien, who could be any one of the twelve man crew of the outpost, including himself.
This is a very good horror movie, with lots of genuine scares, and an incredibly tense atmosphere. The special effects are phenomenal, and made all the more remarkable when you realize that CGI effects had not yet become a reality in Hollywood at the time this movie was made. The model work, matte artistry, and other physical special effects work is second-to-none.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, although it is not 16x9 enhanced. This alone is a significant cause of the video transfer problems, most of which would have been solved by the expediency of 16x9 enhancement.
The transfer in general lacked definition, noticeably lacking resolution with background details being very poorly resolved. If you want a damn good example of the problem, just check out the first ten minutes of the transfer, where it becomes a little bit of a strain to watch the lack of resolution of the helicopter. The image is also anything but clear which does not help the problem at all. Shadow detail was fairly mediocre, sometimes becoming quite poor, which rather shows up the fact that this is a seventeen year old film. It does not help either that the transfer tends towards being a little darker than perhaps would be expected.
The colours were quite dull and lacking in vibrancy, especially in comparison to the Region 1 release. This did not help at all with neither the resolution problems nor the mediocre shadow detail. The overall effect is reasonably natural at a guess (having never been to the Antarctic), but could perhaps have been a lot better.
The did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were however a significant problem, most noticeably significant aliasing throughout the film, but especially early on. Whilst it is not as bad as the shockingly poor Backdraft, it is nonetheless very noticeable and quite distracting. It does make it difficult to watch some portions of the film, especially the helicopter sequences, as it blurs the sharpness of the image very badly. As with the resolution problems, this aliasing would have been avoided by the use of 16x9 enhancement, which does raise the question as to why we are still getting non-16x9 enhanced transfers. In addition to the aliasing, there was also some wobble during the early part of the film, notably in the credits, which some may find somewhat distracting. Film artefacts were quite prevalent, although not much more than I would have expected in a film of this age, and they were quite noticeable and distracting at times.
This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change coming at 88:19. The layer change is quite well placed and is not really disruptive to the film.
Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.
There were no audio sync problems with this disc.
The music comes from one of the ubiquitous names in films of the seventies and eighties in Ennio Morricone, who unfortunately I have never found too appealing. This effort is fairly typical, lacking distinction but being reasonably supportive of the film.
This is something of a problematic soundtrack as it did not seem to be particularly well balanced. The resultant soundscape seemed quite unnatural to me with some of the effects/foley work being especially poorly placed in the mix. This is not a good example of a 5.1 remaster at all. There was decent enough use of the surround channels, both front and rear, but it should have been a lot more effective than it is in my view. Some of the front to rear effects with the helicopter were quite decent though.
The bass channel was not overly well used, and the explosions in particular came across without any real bass support. This again created quite an unnatural soundscape in my view. Overall, this is one of the more disappointing 5.1 remasters that I have heard.
The video quality is very problematic.
The audio quality is barely acceptable.
The extras are beyond reproach.
Quite why we are still getting non-16x9 enhanced transfers, especially from Universal and MGM, I do not know, as in general the more recent such releases from these sources have been quite poorish. DVD is a long term format and with the advent of HDTV and more widescreen televisions over the next five years, to release non-16x9 enhanced discs is really not acceptable. Would it be expecting too much for we poor consumers to expect the quality of 16x9 enhancement every time in a widescreen release???
© Ian Morris
14th December 1999
© Michael Demtschyna
12th November 1999
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|