THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD
Directed by Christian Nyby
Written by Charles Lederer and John W. Campbell
Produced by Howard Hawks
Cinematography by Russell Harlan
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cast: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, Dewey Martin, James R. Young, Ediuard Franz & James Arness
1951/87 mins/ Black & White/Mono
1.33:1/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Warner Bros. DVD
The story begins as an Air Force crew, with a lone newsman (Douglas Spencer) tagging along, is ordered to fly up to a remote base in the North Pole to investigate reports of a mysterious aircraft crash. Led by Captain Hendry (Ken Tobey), the crew is greeted by a chilling Artic air, which serves as an omen of "things" to come. The base also serves as an outpost for Polar Expedition #6 where a group of scientist have assemble for a convention. After examining the information available, head scientist Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) surmise that this craft it is not of this world and with the help of the good Captain decide to lead an expedition out to the crash site.
Upon arriving at the crash site, their assumptions prove to be correct. The saucer now lies under tons of ice. Captain Hendry orders his crew to plant thermite bombs around the circumference of the ship to help melt away the ice. After a series of explosions and a large fireball presumably from the engine of the craft, everyone fears that they have lost one of the greatest finds in the history of man, but when examining the wreckage, they notice what appears to be a person or in this case, the pilot buried in the ice below. With axes in hand, the crew carefully removes a block of ice that now serves as a tomb for the visitor and decide to take it back for further investigation.
Back at the base, Hendry decides to keep the creature frozen until he receives orders on what to do otherwise. He places it under guard in a storage room. This is met with furious distained from the scientist especially Dr. Carrington who demands his right to examining the creature. Hendrey calmly explains that this is no longer a civilian mission, but rather a military operation now. This causes the scientist to quickly scurry back to the confines of their lab so that they may plot a way to circumvent Hendrey's authority and make first contact. As the creature lies apparently dormant, a strange eeriness can be felt as the guard unknowingly puts a blanket on and places a space heater near the block of ice. Before you know it, we find the guard hysterical and The Thing having escaped to being it's reign of terror.
A recurring theme appears here, that being a clash between scientists and the military. You have the military wanting to destroy the beast to protect mankind and on the other hand, you have the scientist who want to capture and study the creature. This is one of those rare occasions in sci-fi/horror film history, where the military is actually the level headed side here. And rightly so as this creature has come to Earth for the sole purpose of using human blood to reproduce itself.
One has to keep in mind that when THE THING was released in 1951, this was the height of the Communist "red scare" as well as being shortly after the Roswell NM incident Playing into the paranoia that was rampant in the US. I lived through this time period and I know what it was like. Based on John Campbell's short story, "Who Goes There", a controversy erupted at the time as the movie was changed dramatically from Campbell's story except for the ending. John Carpenter's THE THING was more faithful to the story except for his ending. Both adaptations are excellent and worth seeing.
The transfer to DVD is very, very good. I had been watching THE THING on LD for several years and the DVD surpasses the LD transfer hands down. One can finally notice fine details (wood grain, clothing features, shadow detail, writing, rivets in the doors, etc.) that were all but impossible to distinguish in any other format. A highly irritating aspect of the LD was the very heavy moire (shimmering) effect of the curtains in the General's and Margaret Sheridan's offices. This distraction is absent in the DVD. There is an occasional small speck and one incident of a light line in a scene but it wouldn't be noticeable unless looking for it. Now, there are a couple of scenes where the sharpness and contrast is slightly degraded. This is about 2 minutes worth of viewing as it's on the extra footage that has been restored which is absent in most of the t.v. versions. Yes, fans, this release is the full, uncut version that was only previously found on the LD. A tip of the hat to WB for doing this as well as giving us an excellent transfer.
The audio is the original mono and sounds great with no distractions such as tinniness or hissing and Tiomkins superbly eerie, haunting soundtrack still comes through in a frightening manner. THE THING DVD is light on the extras with only the original theatrical trailer available and it's not been restored at all. But, at least it's there. The menus are simple static ones and could have been better.
I love this movie. It's a joy to watch. The characters and the dialogues are great as well as the interaction between them. There are some occassional funny moments, and there's lots of conflict, mainly between the soldiers and the scientists. The alien stays in the background for most fo the time: They are fighting it, but never face to face making the movie suspenseful and thrilling even 50 years after its creation. Had they shown the alien any more than they do, the movie would have lost a lot of it's appeal because a 1951 space alien can in no way compete with today's movie technology. Carpenter showed us that with his re-make. That said, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD is still a scary movie revolving around a frightening concept. Highly recommended.
This Film Features:
Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©
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