Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays: The Thing From Another World (1951)

A classic science fiction movie, "The Thing from Another World" (1951) is set at a remote Arctic research station, where an Air Force crew and a team of scientists battle a plant-based alien being whose space vessel crash-landed into ice in the area.  The vessel is discovered by the scientists, who request help from the military in retrieving it.  Their attempt with explosives accidentally destroys the vessel, but an unusual body is found frozen nearby, which they excavate and take back to the research station.  Some of the scientists, including group leader Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), wish to thaw the ice-entombed body, but Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), the ranking Air Force officer, orders everyone to leave it as is until he receives orders from his superior in Alaska.  Unfortunately, one of his own crew accidentally thaws the ice, and the creature within comes to life and flees into a blizzard outside.  It manages to escape an attack by sled dogs, although the dogs manage to tear off an arm, from which much information is learned.  Dr. Carrington, who believes that the creature should not be harmed and may actually provide valuable scientific information, discovers that the arm is able to reproduce when fed blood, and from that point on the menace of The Thing from another world becomes more and more apparent.  Dr. Carrington's secretary, Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan), who is also Captain Hendry's love interest, ends up siding with the military against her boss, and journalist Ned Scott (Douglas Spencer), who accompanied the Air Force team and who attempts to report the story as it progresses, ends the movie with the famous line "Watch the skies!"  James Arness, of "Gunsmoke" fame, played The Thing, but is completely unrecognizable in the makeup and costume.

This movie was produced by famous director Howard Hawks, and some believe he was also an uncredited co-director.  An above average example of the science fiction genre, the film has a well-written screenplay, witty and fast-paced dialogue, and excellent character development.  The Library of Congress deemed it to be "culturally significant" in 2001 and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.  Although I do not ordinarily recommend movies in which animals are harmed, I make an exception for this well-crafted film, but it gets a Gore Guide rating of "1" because of this content.  You can watch "The Thing from Another World" on YouTube for free here.

Interesting Fact:  In 1982, director John Carpenter remade this movie.  His version of "The Thing" is a more faithful adaption of the short story upon which both movies are based, entitled "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr.  A prequel to this movie is set for release this year.

Gore Guide (0=none to 5=extreme): 1

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