Thinner Blu-ray Review (Scream Factory)

The most dangerous weight loss program

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Tom Holland adapts Stephen King’s short story in the 1996 film Thinner, about attorney Billy Halleck (Robert John Burke) who negligently runs down a gypsy and is subsequently cursed to continue losing more and more weight. Much like most of King’s work, the overall story comes with a hefty dose of morality and often resembles an elongated version of a Tales from the Crypt episode. Following the exploits of Billy after he learns of his curse, Thinner often resembles something of a reverse-werewolf tale: instead of undergoing a beastly transformation, he begins to find himself slowly disappearing into a corpse as the curse works its magic.

Thinner wasn’t met with particularly high regard upon its release, but it does seem to be somewhat unfairly maligned; Holland’s direction is workmanlike and, as stated previously, a bit akin to the shorter fable-esque elements of an EC Comics tale. It’s pretty clear early on that Billy isn’t a particularly unsullied character, and his eventual not guilty verdict after running down a gypsy comes with a lot of favors from judge and the sheriff. The element of vengeance by the gypsy’s father (Michael Constantine), then, is at least justified, and the film deals with Billy’s lack of guilty conscience as he blames everyone, including his wife Heidi (Lucinda Jenney), besides himself.

While Thinner focuses on a slow build and often seems rather muted in the thrills department, there’s a good bit of gore and some black humor to keep the pace from feeling too glacial. It also helps that the prosthetic effects – which here actually work in reverse as Burke’s thinner physique is transformed Nutty Professor style – are pretty good despite some noticeable skin texture elements. To be fair, Thinner doesn’t really shock or surprise so much as run through the course of events rather expectedly; but its odd excursion into mafia violence thanks to Joe Mantegna’s presence is a welcome one.

This isn’t the best adaptation of King’s work and, in all honestly, it probably is more deserving of a television episode than a feature-length film. Still, Holland’s work is effective at what it sets out to do and its downbeat and malicious ending lends it a darkly comic air. It’s certainly worth a look for those who were put off by prior poor reviews.


Scream Factory has released Thinner on Blu-ray as part of their Collector’s Edition series with an unlisted scan; note that here they have not proclaimed it to be new and so the assumption is that the transfer is sourced from some other previous option. With that said, whatever the source, the results of the video quality are excellent. This sports great detail and grain resolution with a fairly mild-bodied grain scale. Textures and skin tones are noticeably apparent, so much so that the skin prosthetic effects reveal some artificiality to them. Color grading is excellent as well, maintaining a rich consistency throughout. Darker scenes are not widely used but do reveal good depth in those moments. Overall, despite not boasting a new transfer, Thinner looks excellent on Blu-ray with this evidently strong quality.

Audio is presented with both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 stereo tracks. Both are strong audio offerings; the 5.1 does bring out a number of ambient and surround effects, but the original 2.0 stereo track is also a perfectly good representation too. English subtitles are also included.

The extra features are another area where Thinner shows its bulk, collecting a number of new offerings as well as previously-available featurettes from archival elements. Two new audio commentaries are available along with a previous commentary from Tom Holland and Joe Mantegna; the first new one features producer Mitchell Galin along with actor Joe Mantegna returning, and the second features a more contextual/historical perspective from the (late) Lee Gambin and splatterpunk author Aaron Dries. Also included are new interviews with original cast and crew including a short interview with director Tom Holland, a discussion with actress Lucinda Jenney, and a look at the makeup and effects work with Vincent Guastini.

Along with these new extras, Scream Factory also collects the older featurettes available on the previous Olive Films Blu-ray release.

Extra Features

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Producer Mitchell Galin And Actor Joe Mantegna
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Film Critic/Historian Lee Gambin And Novelist Aaron Dries
  • NEW “Weight Of The World” – An Interview With Director Tom Holland (1080p; 16:38) 
  • NEW “Thick And Thin” – An Interview With Actor Lucinda Jenney (1080p; 13:08)
  • NEW “The Incredible Shrinking Man” With Special Make-Up Effects Artist Vincent Guastini (1080p; 14:57)
  • Audio Commentary With Tom Holland And Joe Mantegna
  • Vintage Featurette: “The Magic Of Special Effects Make-Up” (1080i; 20:11)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 1:42)
  • TV Spot (1080i; 1:03)
  • Still Gallery (no chapter breaks; 4:09)


Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray release of Thinner is a great addition to the Stephen King-on-film oeuvre. With an excellent high definition transfer and a number of new features, this trumps any previous options out there for home video.

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