The 1998 "Collector's Edition" release (Region 1)

The re-release version with new sleeve artwork (Region 2)

The 2004 re-release - new sleeve, new anamorphic transfer (Region 1)


Director: John Carpenter

Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K.Carter

An alien being takes possession of members of an Antarctic expedition.

Many sources will tell you that the 1998 Region 1 and Region 2 versions of this disc are identical. They're not. True, both versions contain a letterboxed version of the film, with chilling 5.1 sound, but neither is 16:9 enhanced, (an opportunity that the R2 disc, which was released much later, failed to exploit); both contain a terrific eighty-four minute documentary featuring especially-shot interviews with most cast members, and key members of the production team, including the always-cooperative Carpenter; both feature a relaxed commentary track by Kurt Russell and the director; and both contain numerous photo’s, production sketches, a couple of outtakes and copious amounts of behind-the-scenes footage. 

These extra features will keep viewers entertained for several hours, and make either version worth owning, but all is not rosy, because the European version of the disc is missing several important features that are present on the American disc, including the presentation of Ennio Morricone's score, (played over the documentary, in stereo, on an alternate audio channel), and an examination of the various flying saucer special effects sequences (in flight and raw footage from the matte effects scenes when it's buried in the ice).

Also absent is a detailed look at the film’s most notorious deleted scene: the stop-motion version of Macready’s final encounter with the “Blairmonster”, which reveals the creature in its entirety. There's a still-frame section with photo's of the model set, and the creature; storyboards for the sequence, and finally a minute-long clip of the scenes as it would have appeared in the finished film. The segment’s omission from the Region 2 disc is highly regrettable, because for more than twenty years it was the holy grail for fans of the movie.

2004 Update

Since this review was written, the disc has been re-released on both sides of the Atlantic, with new packaging, which was created for a computer game adaptation of the film.

In 2004 Universal issued a new Region 1 version of the disc, boasting an improved anamorphic widescreen transfer. This version features the same bonus materials as the 1998 release, except that Ennio Morricone's score is now longer included as an alternate soundtrack option on the documentary.




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