Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tranzor's "The Thing"

Recently I've been sending some time browsing at fanedit.org, a site dedicated to amateurs re-editing their favorite movies for various reasons - Sometimes improvement, sometimes drastic alteration, and sometimes just fun tinkering.  This is a case of the latter, and it's a generation-targeted nostalgia missile in the extreme.  You see, what fan editor "Tranzor" has done is not try to improve John Carpenter's 1982 classic The Thing in any way - Instead, he has transformed it into an edited-for-television late 70's Midnight Movie.

Before I go on, a word about legality.  Fan edits exist in a weird sort of murky grey zone in copyright law - It is legal to make them and it is legal to watch them and it is legal to own them... provided you actually own the original DVD as well.  So, while I can download this fan edit with impunity, someone who didn't own the original DVD would essentially be committing a file sharing copyright breach by downloading it, which is why I'm not posting any download links with this article.  If you want to see this yourself... Well, let's just say that Google is your friend.  That said, on with the show!

Remember the late night monster movie?  There was the news at 11, then Benny Hill or Monty Python, then some sort of late night horror movie in edited-for TV mode, usually something from the 50's.  For all the talk about the "grindhouse" theater experience, this sort of midnight movie had its own strange charms - Missing reels, terrible film quality, choppy cuts, dropped-out profanity, etc.  What this fan editor has done is to recreate this experience with The Thing.  The movie is reformatted into 4:3 and changed to B&W, with a few other tweaks here and there.  You know you're in for fun when you put the disc in...


Right after an intro that will throw you straight back to age 12, you start realizing that this is going to be a wholly different "Thing" viewing experience:


The funny thing about this is how GOOD the movie looks in black and white - The setting is pretty timeless and with the color and the cussing gone, you could almost think you were watching a genuine 1957 drive-in classic.  It's funny how some films time-travel well and others do not.  We were watching the original Alien the other night and it could have been shot last week - Other than some amusing computer nostalgia (A text-prompt green screen monitor on a starship), the look and style were timeless.  Compare it to something like Logan's Run, which immediately says, "1975-1978" really loudly.  I wouldn't have thought that The Thing could get more brooding, but then I saw it in B&W:


There's a great irony here that I've spent most of my adult life avoiding commercials, and yet the commercial breaks in this are the highlight of the experience.  You'll be totally into the movie and then it will hit a crisis point and BAM! - Commercial cutaway:


I haven't watched commercials since the day I got my first VCR - I'm a little hostile to the messages advertisers try to shout at us.  I don't mind informative advertising, but 99% of TV commercials amount to either, "Use our product or no one will ever have sex with you!" or, "Use our product because all our competition sucks."  Thanks, but no thanks.  However, in this case the nostalgia factor wins out, and I'm sitting there watching original 1977 commercial blocks all over again, filled with cheery disco music and ads for Tab cola.


Yes, Tab has even less calories than water.  Never knew THAT, did you, you fatty water drinkers...
Overall, this DVD is a blast, right down to its custom printable DVD case cover.  If you have fond memories of staying up for the late movie, then watching it in wide-eyed childish terror and running to the kitchen for snacks during the commercial breaks, then this is an experience to love.  If you were born after, say, 1978, then I suspect you'd only find this confusing - A bizarre re-edit of a great move for no understandable purpose.  Like the man says, ya just had to be there...

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