DVD Review HTF Review: The Thing - From Another World

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Aug 1, 2003.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]


    The Thing – From Another World





    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1951
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 87 Mins
    Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Standard Version
    Audio: DD Mono
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish






    The Feature:
    Many of us equate "The Thing" to director John Carpenter, who is responsible for the 1982 remake. This 1951 RKO Pictures film was directed by Christian Nyby and produced by the legendary Howard Hawks. After doing a little reading, it appears as though Hawks was at least partly responsible for the film’s direction as well. The story based on the novel by John W Campbell Jr.

    Radar operators discover that something has gone down in a remote arctic region. Initially the downing is thought to be nothing more than a meteorite, which is quickly dismissed. Later on when the downing is thought to be something of a significant amount of metal, Capt Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) of the USAF stationed in Anchorage Alaska, is in charge of a crew to investigate the downed object. Upon their arrival at the crash site, it is determined that the large “bottle” shaped impression first viewed from the air on their way to the site, was in fact, a round saucer shaped object encrusted in thick ice. The ice removal operation winds up destroying the space craft and all that remains is a creature like figure still visible in the ice. Chopping away at the block, it is removed in it’s entirety and transported back to the barracks for examination and testing.

    When a heating blanket is accidentally left on top of the block of ice, the ice begins to melt and this leads to the eventual escape of The Thing (played by James Arness). Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) seems to believe the creature is plant like in nature and won’t respond to any of the ideas or suggestions the team has in trying to subdue it. During the escape a couple of the sled dogs are killed and a strange looking arm is found at the scene. When further tests are performed by the scientists, they determine that the creature may require the blood of humans for survival and that they have now become potential food for this thing. When two of the scientists are found murdered, the rest of the crew and scientists realize that they are in a struggle for their lives.

    The movie is free from any gore and plays smartly on the mind for suspense. Although I have the remake version, this was my first experience watching the original version and I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat for much of the movie.

    During the movie, we see the likeable (but no nonsense) Captain exploring a relationship with Nikki (Margaret Sheridan). We also witness the tense relationship between the Captain (whose paramount concern is of the safety of his men and that of others) and Dr. Carrington (who seems to want to “research” regardless of the potential cost). They’re at odds with each other during much of the movie.


    Video:
    I thought I was in for a rough ride (see my explanation below) as I watched the trailer. In an attempt to be as diplomatic as possible, the transfer is not without its share of flaws. It’s difficult to state what the elements were like to start with (and I presume less than pristine), but I wasn’t left overly impressed with this transfer. Again, from what I’ve read, I’m certain the quality is going to surpass the LD release.

    For the most part, I would say the transfer looked very good -- not great, but good. I noticed many scratches and occasional jitter. At the 07:43 mark, there is a good example of film dirt. I noticed a couple of jumps as well – whether they are splices or repairs, it is hard to say. The amount of film grain is greater than I like to see and the black levels weren’t the greatest.


    Audio:
    There is nothing particularly special from the audio track (not that there is usually anything particularly special from a mono track…). Everything seemed rather clear – which is all that we can hope for. Nothing in particular stood out pertaining to the movie’s audio.


    Special Features:
    While, apparently, there were extras available on LD, the DVD offers nothing more than a trailer. And, what a Trailer it is…. it was terrible. It looked like something produced from one of these public domain studios…

    I usually start watching a movie by watching the theatrical if available and this was no exception. I couldn’t believe how poor it looked and obviously no work went into its inclusion. I thought initially, I was in for a rough 87 minutes; fortunately that wasn’t the case. In light of the fact WB have only given us the trailer, some more work should have gone into its release.



    Final Thoughts:
    As I mentioned earlier, I had never seen this version before. I spent the quiet afternoon in the theater watching it and I found it rather enjoyable. Perhaps I’m getting pickier but, I wasn’t left overly impressed with Warner’s offering. That said, and in light of the quality of Warner’s recent catalogue releases, I have a feeling they didn’t have much here to work with in the first place. As for the movie, great flick.





    Release Date: August 5th, 2003
     
  2. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'll be watching my dvd tonight to see how it compares to other format presentations.




    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Good review. One of THE seminal science fiction films, and one of the greatest ever.
    I remember seeing The Thing on a moderately big screen at a packed science fiction convention in the late 70's along with John Carpenter's Dark Star, aaah those were the days. I was a real SF freak then. Watched it many times since, will be buying the dvd, sad there aren't any extras.
     
  5. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    yeah thnaks for the review and should be in the post very soon

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    After viewing the dvd last night, I'm impressed by the job Warner did with this film that was originally released by RKO. It is a stated fact that the elements of this film along with most of the other RKO films are in terrible shape. I've probably seen this film, maybe 50-60 times in the last 40 years and it's by far the best I've ever seen it.

    For a point of reference to those that have seen this film more than a few times, remember when Captain Hendry enters General Fogherty's quarters. There is about a 2 minute segment in which those scenes had obvious damage to the elements. On this dvd, though not perfect, Warner did a very good job improving the viewing of those scenes and minimizing the out-of-focus sequence that was always present in every viewing I observed of this film until last night.

    The video presentation of this dvd isn't on the scale of the latest "Casablanca" dvd release, but I imagined the elements for this dvd were probably in a lot worse shape than they were for "Casablanca", plus I'm sure much more money was spent on restoring "Casablanca".

    I wished this dvd had more extras like a featurette and commentary due to its importance to the sci-fi genre, but other than that misgiving, I highly recommend this dvd to any fan of this film or the sci-fi genre.





    Crawdaddy
     
  8. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the reviews. Can anybody confirm that the runtime of 87 min is accurate? If so this is the un-cut version correct?
     
  9. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

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  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Randy, not to put too fine a point on it, but John W. Campbell Jr.'s Who Goes There ... is a novella. FYI. [​IMG]
     
  11. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Yes, I timed it while watching it and it is the un-cut version at 87 minutes.




    Crawdaddy
     
  12. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Thanks, Herb - good review.

    This is a great film. Immeasurably influential and is in many ways the quintessential old school science fiction film, before things got too out-there for mainstream audiences and nerds like myself took up the reigns! [​IMG]

    Superbly atmospheric and brilliantly edited, The Thing From Another World remains a much-loved sci-fi classic.

    I can't wait to see it again.


    Gordy
     
  13. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    "Keep watching the skies!"
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I always thought the dialogue in this film was better than what you would have expected from an early sci-fi classic. Howard Hawks fingerprints are all over this script.





    Crawdaddy
     
  15. Martin_T

    Martin_T Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for both reviews gentlemen.

    The Thing From Another World is one of my all time favorites. I got my hands on the laserdisc about 6 months ago and have already watched it 3 times. It might not sound like a lot, but despite the huge number of movies that I collect I seem to have a hard time getting around to re-watching anything during the last couple of years.

    Altough it is sad that WB decided not to make this a Special Edition disc, I will still be waiting by the door for my local Best Buy to open on Tuesday, because this movie will be MINE!
     
  16. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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  17. Martin_T

    Martin_T Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the tip Jeff.

    I should have time to hit a couple of stores before I head to work late Tuesday morning. Hopefully one of my local Best Buy's will have it in stock. If not, there is always Circuit City.
     
  18. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    No problem Martin.
     
  19. BruceKimmel

    BruceKimmel Stunt Coordinator

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    Not a top-notch transfer, any way you look at it. As to the other WB releases in this batch - Wait Until Dark is disappointing - barely better than the laserdisc. It's on the brown side, and there is no excuse for that with the ease of color correction today. House of Wax is disappointing, too, for the same reasons. Soylent Green and The Omega Man look great, and Casablanca looks fantastic.
     

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