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Thinner (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Thinner (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: January 23rd, 2024.
    Director: Tom Holland
    Cast: Robert John Burke, Bethany Joy Lenz, Adriana Delphine, Joe Mantegna
    Year: 1996
    Purchase From Amazon

    Thinner – Movie Review:

    Directed by Tom Holland in 1996 and based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, Thinner tells the story of a lawyer named Billy Halleck (Robert John Burke) who is married to his wife Heidi (Lucinda Jenney) with who he has a daughter named Linda (Bethany Joy Lenz). The Halleck family leads a bit of a charmed life. They do not want for money or material possessions and they're never short on food, something that's obviously a problem for Billy who suffers from some weight problems. His wife does what she can to try and curb his eating habits but she can't rightly babysit a grown man - she can, however, use other ways of convincing him and she does just that when they're driving one day. Unfortunately for Billy and Heidi, her amorous persuasions understandably cause Billy to lose focus, at which point he runs over and kills an older gypsy woman (Adriana Delphine).

    Billy goes to court but given his ties to mobster Richie Genelli (Joe Mantegna) and his knowledge of the inner workings of the legal system, nobody is surprised when he walks, despite the fact that he really is guilty. As such, the patriarch of the gypsy woman's family, Tadzu Lempke (Michael Constantine), takes matters into his own hands and when he touches Billy on the way out of the courtroom that day and whispers 'thinner' into his ear, well, Billy starts losing weight faster than he can stuff his face in hopes that he won't wither away to nothing. Billy calls in some favors from Genelli in hopes that he'll be able to convince the Lempke's to take the curse off of him, but it seems that what's done is done...

    Thinner ranks somewhere in the middle as far as Hollywood adaptations of Stephen King source material. Though the movie is pretty close to the novel on which it was based, the film suffers from some fairly obvious pacing issues during the middle stretch and while it does build to a reasonably satisfying conclusion, getting there does, at times, seem like work. The story itself isn't generally regarded as one of King's best. It's fine as light entertainment but doesn't work as anything more than that and it lacks the weight or emotional depth of something like The Dead Zone or The Shining. Where the movie does succeed, however, is in how it mixes some twisted black humor in with the more traditional 'horror movie' aspects of the story. Much of this comes directly out of the mouths of the characters, as the dialogue tends to be fairly well written and appropriately delivered.

    As far as the performances go, Burke is little more than just okay in the lead. While we're not really supposed to like him as a person, his performance here doesn't have much of a hook. While it wouldn't be appropriate for us to really warm to him given how he goes about treating other people, he just isn't particularly interesting. The supporting characters all suffer from some of the same flaws, with the saving grace in the cast being Joe Mantegna, whose mobster character is given plenty of opportunity to steal scenes, something with Mantegna does and seemingly with some glee. King himself has a small cameo in the movie. The makeup effects in the film, however, are quite impressive across the board. As we watch Burke's Billy Halleck go through his unnatural transformation all manner of appliances are used to quite literally turn him into a completely different person. Had this aspect of the production not been up to par, it would have spelled doom for the movie as so much of what happens in it revolves around this transformation. Thankfully this aspect of the movie is excellent and while it may be closing in on its twentieth birthday sooner rather than later, time has been kind to it in this regard.

    Worth seeing and reasonably entertaining despite its flaws, Thinner may prefer over the top effects work and snappy dialogue over strong character development or subtly nuanced performances but the end result is entertaining enough. The film is not without some obvious flaws but you can still have fun with it if you're in the right frame of mind.

    Thinner – Blu-ray Review:

    Thinner comes to Blu-ray from Shout! Factory in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen on a 50GB Region A disc. Picture quality is quite nice here, with excellent color reproduction and strong black levels noticeable right from the start. Detail is quite strong and the picture has nice depth and texture to it. There aren’t any issues with noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression problems, but at the same time the image is pretty much pristine, showing no real print damage at all. Skin tones look nice and lifelike and all in all, Thinner looks really nice on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.

    Audio options are provided in English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo tracks with optional subtitles offered up in English only. The 5.1 mix is quite good, with decent channel separation noticeable in the film’s busier scenes and good bass response when the movie calls for it. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to understand and the track is properly balanced. There are no issues with any hiss, distortion or sibilance.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary with Producer Mitchell Galin and Actor Joe Mantegna that is cut together from interviews conducted separately with the two men by Film Critic/ Historian Lee Gambin how Mantegna got the role and came on board and where his career was at during this period, working with Tom Holland, thoughts on his own character and some of the other characters in the movie, being on location in Maine, memories from the shoot, the look of the movie, the lighting employed in the film, Mantegna's tendency to play bad guys and mobsters, the effect of the AIDs epidemic on the story and thoughts on King's source material, getting the script prepared, Robert John Burke's transformation in the movie, the makeup effects work in the picture, what it was like on set and lots of other details related to the production.

    A second new audio commentary features Lee Gambin and Novelist Aaron Dries that does a fairly deep dive into the source material and the movie. They talk about what they like about the movie and its downbeat nature, the use of music in the movie and its score, thoughts on the characters, how the movie deals with classism and racism, how King's background possibly shaped this, the film's ending, King's own cameo in the movie, the influence of the AIDS epidemic on the movie, how the movie deals with the idea of body shaming, thoughts on the cast and crew members that worked on the movie and more.

    The disc also includes an archival audio commentary with Director Tom Holland and Joe Mantegna that covers shooting the movie in Maine, some of the locations that were used, the challenges involved in doing the makeup effects needed for the movie, who did what behind the scenes, thoughts on how the movie turned out, working with the other cast members and some of the themes that the story explores.

    Weight Of The World is a new interview with Director Tom Holland that runs sixteen minutes. He talks about how Thinner was more of a subtle horror story than some expected, what made it challenging to make, how and why he decided to direct the film, his initial thoughts on the book, the film's ending, getting King to cameo in the movie and what he was like to work with, the effects in the movie, his thoughts on comic relief in horror movies, audience reactions to the movie and the ending specifically and how over the last few years the movie seems to be developing a decent following.

    Thick And Thin is a new interview with Actor Lucinda Jenney that runs thirteen minutes. Here, she speaks about her thoughts on her ambiguous character in the movie, how she wound up getting the part, her thoughts on King's work and her connections to Maine, what it was like working with Burke and how good natured he was, getting along with the other cast members, memories of shooting specific scenes, her thoughts on how the movie turned out and the themes it explores and why it is a good time for it to be reissued.

    The Incredible Shrinking Man is a new featurette with Special Make-Up Effects Artist Vincent Guastini, who talks about how exciting it was for him to work with Holland and King, his background and how he got into effects work, working on The Langoliers, the people that he collaborated with on the effects work in the movie, how ambitious some of the effects work was for the time, some of the challenges that arose during the production, when reshoots were required, his thoughts on the ending and how he feels the movie has grown on people over the years in recent times.

    An archival featurette titled The Magic Of Special Effects Make-Up is also included on the disc. This twenty minute piece features interviews with Greg Cannom, Tom Holland, Linda Benavente-Notaro, Robert Eli Bodford Jr., Robert Burke, Michael Constantine and Larry Odien as well as loads of behind the scenes footage showing off what it was like on set, the makeup effects team at work and prepping for their scenes.

    Finishing things up on the disc is a theatrical trailer, a TV spot and a still gallery as well as menus and chapter selection options. The disc comes packaged with some double-sided cover sleeve art and, for the first pressing, a limited edition slipcover.

    Thinner - The Final Word:

    Thinner isn't necessarily a high water mark in the world of big screen Stephen King adaptations, but it's not a bad movie. Holland keeps things moving along at a good pace and the performances are decent. The makeup effects hold up surprisingly well and if this isn't one you're likely to go back to time and time again, it's worth seeing if you're a horror fan. The Blu-ray from Scream Factory offers the movie up in a very nice presentation and with a strong selection of extra features as well, which is something that should definitely please the movie’s fanbase.

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