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The Thing

Old 04-07-99, 02:50 AM
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Boy, is this DVD loaded with extras. For me, it was worth buying just to have the movie again (I really missed my laserdisc).

I think (if memory serves) that this DVD is of even better quality than the laserdisc. It sounds and looks like it was made pretty recently which, of course, it was not. And, with all the supplemental materials, any fan of this movie must go buy this DVD now. I'll wait.

Thanks for coming back.

If you're not familiar with the movie, you owe it to yourself to see one of John Carpenter's finest efforts. He actually made pretty good films for a brief while, and with the assistance of a talented ensemble cast (especially Carpenter favorite Kurt Russell), cinematographer Dean Cundey, and make-up/special effects genius Rob Bottin, Mr. Carpenter successfully crafted one of the best genre-bending sci-fi films ever made. This still stands as one of my favorites for its tight, tight script; excellent (nay, brilliant) score, courtesy of Ennio Morricone, one of our finest; tense performances and suspenseful pacing; perfect editing; and some of the most believable, yet unexpected and horrific creature effects ever devised (even to this date!).

The long making-of documentary (over 70 minutes) can drag occasionally (not all the behind-the-scenes people are terrific at on-camera presentation, and Kurt Russell comes off kind of poorly in the brief segments in which he is shown), but overall it is very informative, and occasionally somewhat entertaining. I have to admit, though, watching John Carpenter talk about The Thing, juxtaposed with watching the other team members, I really began to realize what I've been suspecting lately: John Carpenter got real lucky at the beginning of his career, and Halloween, Escape From New York, and The Thing may constitute the only three movies that ever really managed to break out from their "B-movie" molds. I truly believe that these movies are a result of being greater than the sum of their parts, and that Carpenter was not nearly as responsible for their perfection as one might have expected. Flame me if you will, but since The Thing, Carpenter has proven himself unable to make a decent A-level (or even B-level movie).

Vampires was just the final nail in the coffin.

My DVD Tracker List

BTW, if you don't mind paying retail prices, then this DVD is worth every penny, but if you're a big internet shopper, do look around for a nice discount price, and use a coupon; how much sweeter is it to have such a great movie at a great price?

(edited for rating system)

Scale from 1 to 10:

Movie: 10
Picture: 8.5 (can be a faintly dark near the edges occasionally)
Sound: 8 (for those most part, this disc really sounds like it was recorded for today's systems--quite an achievement, but it ain't The Fifth Element)
Extras: 9 (More materials than I would have expected on a less recent and not necessarily "classic"--a la "AFI 100"--release; I especially thought the documentary was better than average, but I would have liked to have scene even more "how they did it" visual demonstrations with storyboards or whatever)

[This message has been edited by epski (edited 04-06-99).]
Old 04-07-99, 08:47 PM
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epski, I agree with you completely!!! Both
my wife, and I, loved this movie. We still
haven't gotton through the extras but did
have a chance to listen to a little of the
commentary which sounded excellent!
This is definitly one of the best ones I own!
Get this one if you don't have it...But make
sure you get a good deal!
Old 04-24-99, 03:57 PM
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epski, I agree with most of your statements in this review, especially on the merits of the disc itself, but I must take issue with your post-"Thing" analysis of Carpenter's career. Although the vast majority of the movies he came out with after this one have been crap, you've ignored the two stand-out exceptions: "Big Trouble in Little China", a truly unique, inventive, and utterly hysterical piece of mayhem, and the extraordinary "Starman", easily his most mature film, with an Oscar-nominated performance by the always dependable Jeff Bridges. Just wanted to give credit where credit is due, but I do definitely share your dissapointment with Carpenter's efforts in the 1990s. Come on, J. C., shake yourself out of this creative slump and get with the program!!!
Old 04-26-99, 05:07 PM
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What about "Assault on Precinct 13" and "Dark Star". Two of his early movies in fact most of his early movies are good just until the last ten years or so does the quaility seem to go down. Of course not all of his movies are as good as "The Thing" or "Halloween" but, most are at least enjoyable. Hell I even liked "They Live"
Old 04-27-99, 03:44 PM
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Filmmaker: I thought Big Trouble in Little China was fun, but no classic, IMHO. However, I was much remiss in leaving out Starman. Definitely one of his better films. That said, he was assisted greatly by very talented actors and writers in that case as well.

Tracer: Yeah. I like his early stuff the best.
Old 04-27-99, 04:00 PM
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Well, it was at least pretty good. Definitely some neat things to watch in that movie.

And anyone that can keep me watching "Rowdy" Roddy Piper for hours deserves an Oscar.
Old 04-27-99, 06:47 PM
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That's what I want to see. A gorgeous Special Edition of Big Trouble in Little China! Then I can retire my pan&scan VHS and revel in it's sheer silliness

Old 04-28-99, 01:44 AM
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yeah, its not just the thing, what about prince of darkness? another really well made movie, was in the mouth of madness, this one is underrated, very good plot, and i like the effects. they live is the perfect b movie if you like. it also has some interesting ideas that could be used in a movie that would be great if presented in a more organized and serious manner. i agree that vampires sucked big time, so did vilage of the damned.
Old 04-28-99, 11:55 AM
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Uh-oh, I think I've started something here...

Real quick: jess.s, I agree wholeheartedly on a BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA: SPECIAL EDITION, but I do own the letterboxed LaserDisc, so I'm not suffering as bad as you. And ydmah, PRINCE OF DARKNESS is available on DVD currently and, from what I've heard, it's a great transfer, though sans extras . And you liked IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS?! I thought it was the ultimate example of how John Carpenter has competely lost the ability to make a tight, coherent, truly chilling horror story like he did in his HALLOWEEN and THE THING heyday. Oh, well...to each his own!

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