Halloween, directed by John Carpenter, is my all-time favorite horror movie, but a close second is The Thing, also directed by Carpenter, which is the latest edition to the Scream Factory line of Collector’s Edition Blu-ray releases.
The Movie (5/5)
We previously covered the Universal Home Entertainment Blu-ray release, where writer Erik Naumann wrote up an excellent review of The Thing. You can read his excellent review to find a critical breakdown of this movie. Personally, I give this one a 5/5, but I’m so biased against anything John Carpenter that my opinion would be useless from a critical standpoint. Definitely check out Erik’s review for a more neutral stance.
The Video (4.5/5)
Having given the previous Blu-ray transfer of The Thing a 3.5 out of 5 score for picture quality, the new 2K transfer from the interpositive that Scream Factory undertook is certainly an improvement, I’m just not sure it warrants a perfect score. As you can see from the set of comparative screenshots below, the colors are brighter in the Scream Factory transfer, and everything seems a bit smoother. The overall contrast and brightness is stronger, which is an important factor in a movie like The Thing that takes place primarily at night. For the rest of the screenshots in this review, they will be sourced from the Scream Factory release; the only two screenshots from the old transfer are seen in this section, as comparison pieces.
As you can see in the above image, things like the smoke coming from the helicopter, or the blue lining of the jacket, are much more pronounced in the Scream Factory transfer versus the Universal transfer. The smoke looks almost green in the Universal transfer, while the Scream Factory transfer is much more realistic in color. The most striking difference is probably the snow, where in the Universal transfer it comes off as dirty looking and gray. Scream Factory’s new 2K transfer gives the snow a much truer white color, which looks a lot better in many of the exterior shots. In the rest of the screenshots, you can clearly see how vibrant some of the coloring is in this new 2K transfer, especially set against dark backgrounds, where blue lighting or orange flames really jump from the picture.
The Audio (4.5/5)
While most Blu-ray release feature a standard 5.1 DTS-HD track, and maybe a 2.o Dolby Digital track as a second option, not many feature a full lineup of three DTS-HD Master Audio tracks to choose from, but that is where Scream Factory is different. For this release, there is the old DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track included with the previous release, which sounded very good. Erik covered that in his previous review. There is also a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track, which is nice for a soundbar system or stereo setup, but the real treat is the brand new 4.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, which was created from the original 70mm Six Track Dolby Stereo Soundtrack.
Basically, this is exactly as Carpenter intended for this film to be heard, and it is my favorite of the bunch. A 4.1 track can be a bit tricky, as it skips the use of a center speaker, but everything sounded amazing. I credit this partly to my home theater system, but mostly to the work that the folks at Shout Factory put into this release. I recommend trying them all and seeing what your personal preference is, but just having the choice of three distinct, quality options warrants the perfect score for this release.
Special Features/Packaging (5/5)
You just can’t beat the Scream Factory Collector’s Editions in terms of packaging and features. They are certainly the “Criterion Collection” for horror movies. I ordered my copy from the Shout Factory website, so I was able to get this release two weeks early, and with the excellent posters that come with most Scream Factory pre-orders. The poster is excellent, very high quality, and features the newly commissioned artwork seen on the slipcover. The movie comes packaged with the classic, and soon to be rare slipcover with the aforementioned new artwork on the front, with a 2 disc Amaray case (one Blu-ray for the movie, and one Blu-ray just for special features) on the inside. The artwork on the case is also reversible, with the reverse side featuring the classic artwork seen on the previous Universal release. This is as good as it gets; it is as simple as that.
As for special features, the ball just keeps rolling, as they are excellent. The big draw for me was the inclusion of three full length commentary tracks, with a new track from Director of Photography Dean Cundy which is fairly technical, and a new track from Co-producer Stuart Cohen, who offers great insight. The third track was previously available, but it still my favorite, as it features Kurt Russell and John Carpenter, who have a great relationship and offer an excellent experience. I especially enjoyed their comments on the dog they used in the film, as it was fascinating to see just how smart that animal was, and how that contributed to some of the excellent scenes in the film.
There are two and a half hours of brand new features included with this release, and other excellent additions like the Network TV version of the film, an 80 minute “making-of” documentary, and various other additions. The full list of features is below, and I highly recommend this release for the sheer amount of love that Scream Factory put into it with these extras. Fans of The Thing, of which there are many, will be overjoyed with this release.
- NEW Audio Commentary With Director Of Photography Dean Cundey
- NEW Audio Commentary With Co-producer Stuart Cohen
- Audio Commentary By Director John Carpenter And Actor Kurt Russell
- Teaser Trailer (1 minute)
- Theatrical Trailers (U.S. And German) (5 minutes)
- TV Spots (1 minute)
- Radio Spots (2 minutes)
- Still Gallery (Behind-The-Scenes Photos, Posters And Lobby Cards) (15 minutes)
- NEW Requiem For A Shape Shifter – An Interview With Director John Carpenter In Conversation With Filmmaker Mick Garris (28 minutes)
- NEW The Men Of Outpost 31 – Interviews With Keith David, Wilford Brimley, David Clennon, Thomas Waites, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur And Joel Polis (51 minutes)
- NEW Assembling And Assimilation – An Interview With Editor Todd Ramsay (11 minutes)
- NEW Behind The Chameleon: The Sights Of THE THING – Interviews With Visual Effects Artists Peter Kuran And Susan Turner, Special Make-up Effects Artist Rob Burman, Brian Wade And Stop Motion Animators Randall William Cook And Jim Aupperle (25 minutes)
- NEW Sounds From The Cold – Interviews With Supervising Sound Editor David Lewis Yewdall And Special Sound Effects Designer Alan Howarth (15 minutes)
- NEW Between The Lines – An Interview With Novelization Author Alan Dean Foster (16 minutes)
- NEW Back Into The Cold: A Return To The Shooting Locations Of THE THING – An Animated Photo Gallery Narrated By Todd Cameron Of Outpost31.com
- NEW The Art Of Mike Ploog Gallery (12 minutes)
- John Carpenter’s The Thing: Terror Takes Shape – A Documentary On The Making Of THE THING Featuring Interviews With John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, Special Effects Make-up Designer Rob Bottin, Legendary Matte Artist Albert Whitlock Plus Members Of The Cast And Crew (80 minutes – SD)
- Network TV Broadcast Version Of THE THING (92 minutes – SD)
- Outtakes (5 minutes – SD)
- Vintage Featurettes From The Electronic Press Kit Featuring Interviews With John Carpenter, Kurt Russell And Rob Bottin (13 minutes – SD)
- Vintage Featurettes – The Making Of A Chilling Tale And The Making Of THE THING (14 minutes – SD)
- Vintage Product Reel – Contains A Condensed Version Of The Film With Additional Footage Not In The Film (19 minutes – SD)
- Vintage Behind-The-Scenes Footage (2 minutes – SD)
- Annotated Production Archive – Production Art And Storyboards, Location Scouting, Special Make-up Effects, Post Production (54 minutes – SD)
Technical Specs (click for technical FAQs)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
DTS-HD Master Audio 4.1 (New)
DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Runtime: 109 minutes
If you love John Carpenter, The Thing, or Scream Factory Collector’s Editions, you cannot skip this release. I own about half of the Scream Factory Collector’s Edition catalog, and along with Halloween II and Halloween III and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, this is now one of my favorites. The special features are astounding, and they feed fans with content for hours and hours on end, which is worth the roughly $20 price tag alone. The new 2K transfer is a definite improvement over the old Blu-ray release, and the new audio track was excellent. Of course, packaging was also perfect, and if you were lucky enough to pre-order, the poster will look great on a wall with your collection. I highly, highly recommend this release from Scream Factory; The Thing is on a short list of my favorite reviews that I have ever done. You can order The Thing (Collector’s Edition) from Amazon, or grab it direct from the source at the Shout Factory website, although the posters are sold out at this point in time.