The Thing (1982) | 4K Blu-ray Review

From the master of horror, John Carpenter, The 1982 classic The Thing has been released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. For many horror fans, this movie stands out as an absolute masterpiece from a cinematic and storytelling point of view. It has seen numerous releases over the years, but this is its first time on the Ultra HD format. Let’s see how it holds up and whether or not it is worth picking up.

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

The Thing, 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-100)
Blu-ray (BD-25)
Digital code
Released By:Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date:September 7th, 2021
Video Format / Codec:4K: H.265 (HEVC)
BR: VC-1
Native 4K, 2160/24p 
(3280 x 2160 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)

Full HD, 1080/24p 
(1920 x 1080 at 23.976 frames/sec, progressive)
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K (from 35mm negatives)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):HDR10
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1
Audio Format(s):English (4K): DTS:X/DTS-HD MA 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

English (BR): DTS-HD MA 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Additional tracks also release in French and Spanish
Subtitles:English SDH, French, Spanish
Packaging:Dual disc snap case w/ slipcover*

*Slipcover may only be available on initial  pressing
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Region-free

Video Review:

The 4K transfer of this film was clearly handled very well. They went back to the original negatives and ensured that they were able to bring out as much detail as they could from the nearly 40-year old film. From the characters frost weathered skin, to facial hair to the multitude of practical effects all look the best they ever had on a home media release. Details in the dark environment are also better resolved, especially in the climatic scene at the end of the film. While the vast majority of scenes in this film were sharp and crisp, I did notice a few brief moments of softness, but nothing to hold too heavily against the picture quality.

There is an active layer of film grain still present, but it is much more well formed and handled than in the past Universal release from 2008. The structure is more natural and mostly appears natural. The bright outdoor scenes do reveal much more grain and for those grain-sensitive folks out there, those scenes are likely to bother you, but I did not find it distracting.

The color is well managed throughout and appears much more natural than past releases. The movie is neither overly warm nor cool in color palette which means it is non-factor, which in this case is a really good thing. It means snow remains white, and fire remains yellow/orange as they should be.

The Thing is a challenging movie from a light and dark level standpoint, with daytime snow scenes stressing the brights, and the nighttime, inside scenes being very dimly lit. But thankfully the 4K handles these scenes admirably. Especially in comparison to the Blu-ray version of this film, the amount of detail in the shadows is definitely a step up and the brights are intense without being blown out. The use of fire to fight the alien creature means a large amount of contrast is presented on screen and the HDR is definitely up to the task, maintaining detail in the flames and shadows alike.

While this video presentation is definitely the best this has looked, it is not at the very top of the heap. Still it does present very, very well and the score reflects as such.

Video Score (4K): 4.4 / 5

The standard Blu-ray included is from the 2008 release and was only assessed here for comparison sake, so no score was provided.

Audio Review:

This release comes with a brand new DTS:X track on the 4K disc. It is definitely a step up from the older 5.1 mix found on most Blu-rays. Whether it be the added height and ambiance effects in the opening helicopter scene, to gunshots (throughout), to creaks and clangs in the generator room scene at the end of the movie, the mix is fairly active. While the overheads are in use when appropriate (helicopter blades overhead, etc), they do go more dormant, with exceptions, in the interior scenes which is appropriate. That said, when used they do add to the overall immersiveness of the film.

Dialog remains clean and clear throughout with little issue discerning lines of dialog. The music score is also well presented in the mix, maintaining the feel of the early 80s vintage while coming across well rounded.

LFE is present, but not a room shaker. It is most noticeable in some of the explosions, but is surprisingly restrained when it comes to gun fire. This is likely more similar to the original sound design, but it could have been punched up a bit here and there.

Even with the slightly underwhelming bass, it still is an excellent mix and enriched the experience of this movie.

Audio Score (4K): 4.6 / 5

The standard Blu-ray included is from the 2008 release and was only assessed here for comparison sake, so no score was provided.

Special Features and Packaging:

The special features are found on both the 4K and standard Blu-ray, but none are presented in 4K, with some in HD and others in standard definition. The features available are highly enjoyable, including the cast and crew interviews in The Thing: Terror Takes Shape, and the audio commentary from John Carpenter and Kurt Russell. Other than that we are treated to outtakes and the theatrical trailer. Overall, pretty average selection and nothing compared to what you may get on a collector’s edition (like that from Scream Factory). Most of these features are the same as found on the older Universal Blu-ray, just presented in a less interactive form than that gimmicky picture-in-picture on the earlier disc.

The packaging is pretty standard and nothing to gush about. The artwork selected is in line with the older release and movie posters from this film. The same artwork on the slipcover is the same as on the snap case and 4K disc. It is always nice to get the slipcover but clearly there was not an attempt to upgrade the physical presentation with custom art or otherwise. Still it presents well and is iconic for the film, so it’s going to land it right in the middle of the road.

Features Score: 2.9 / 5


OK, so if you like the film, you likely already own it in some previous format. If you don’t, and are buying it for the first time, this is by far the best looking and sounding release of this film.

If you do own the older Universal Blu-ray, this is definitely worth upgrading to, as you will still get that disc with this package, thus making the older Blu-ray completely redundant. I would say the same goes for the Scream Factory release, where the picture and color-grading, as well as the object-based audio mix are superior on this 4K presentation. The only reason to keep the latter as well would be for the added features for fans of the film.

If you are budget-restricted, I would wait a bit for the price to drop or for it to go on sale. The only real risk being the potential for it being a later pressing meaning you may not get a slipcover, but given the holiday season is here in a couple of months, this release is likely to see some good deals ahead.

Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: YES!

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Summary and Overall Scores:

The Thing on 4K Blu-ray looks and sounds better than it ever has and is definitely worth adding or upgrading in your movie collection if you are a fan of the film. While it may not be the first disc to grab to demo, it is absolutely worth having on hand to enjoy this movie as it should be presented.

Experience Score**: 4.3 / 5 

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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