[box cover]

John Carpenter's The Thing

The inhabitants of an isolated arctic outpost are visited by a murderous, otherworldly life-form that hides by assuming the identities of those it kills. Director John Carpenter's 1982 remake of the dull, talky 1951 "classic" may borrow liberally from Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but his combination of strong characters (serviced by solid actors), a chillingly remote setting, and skin-crawling special effects is among the best the sci-fi horror genre has to offer. Not content to let Rob Bottin's brilliant, gruesome makeup carry the show (only the very last shot of the creature is unconvincing), screenwriter Bill Lancaster's adaptation of John W. Campbell, Jr.'s story Who Goes There? focuses primarily on the tension between the Thing's paranoid potential victims. As they struggle for control and safety in a community where nobody knows who is human and who is not, they are in danger of destruction from without, within, and each other. The arctic backdrop seems to have inspired Carpenter to create his most visually interesting film as well as his most gripping. The pulsating synthesized score is, surprisingly, not by Carpenter himself, but Ennio Morricone. Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur, and Donald Moffat. This Universal Collector's Edition is everything a special edition should be as well, with a special-features menu that takes up three screens. Presented in 2.35:1 widescreen, with DD 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 audio. Includes commentary by Carpenter and Russell; the documentary John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror Takes Shape featuring interviews with Carpenter, Russell, Bottin, matte artist Albert Whitlock, and other cast and crew members, and which can be watched accompanied by the movie's musical score only (!). Other extras include outtakes, work-in-progress special-effects footage, and behind-the-scenes footage; the original theatrical trailer; behind-the-scenes photographs; storyboards and conceptual art; and an annotated production archive. Great package, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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