Fifty miles from an Arctic research lab, and spaceship crashes into the ice. A team is sent toretrieve the vessel. They accidentally destroy it, but do bring back a block of ice containing thepilot. The ice melts, and the monster is on the loose. Cut off from help, a small band of soldiersand scientists must fight the invader. Memorably remade by John Carpenter, the originalThing remains the yardstick by which all other alien-on-the-loose films are measured.The suspe…se is meticulously constructed. The ensemble acting is superb, and is buttressed by theendlessly witty, overlapping banter (and trademark of producer — and to all intents and purposes,director — Howard Hawks). It is a particular delight to see the film uncut. The most notablerestoration is a saucy little bondage sequence, surprisingly racy for 1951, and is just one exampleof how the film stands out from so many of its peers. Though the characters are all, in their broadlines, standard-issue SF heroes, heroines and villains, the little nuances brought to each makesthem real individuals. The monster (played by James Arness) is simple in design, yet effective inexecution. The importance of this release can hardly be overstated.
The original mono is the only track on offer here. No stereo remixes of any kind, with neitherthe benefits nor drawbacks that such efforts entail. The mono is warm enough, with good, cleansound to the music and (especially) the dialogue. This is a movie where you want to catch everyword, where the seemingly tossed-away lines contain small gems of humour, so the lack ofdistortion is appreciated.
A decent picture, but not as perfect as a serious restoration job would have produced. Theimage is extremely crisp, and the black-and-white is gorgeous (with spookily deep blacks). Thereis some print damage, however (flicker, lines, speckling), though never too severe. The grain isvariable, going from none at all to quite severe in some of the exterior shots. There is,occasionally, some very slight edge enhancement visible.
The menu’s main page is scored, and the only extra is the theatrical trailer, which is in roughshape. The dearth of extras is criminal, given how important the movie is.
Lack of extras notwithstanding, this is, along with The Day the Earth Stood Still,arguably the most important SF DVD release of 2003. In fact, the two make an interesting pair,having been released the same year and being ideological opposites. Every self-respecting SF fanowes to him/herself to track this classic down immediately.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailer