on 26 September 2014
This shall be a review of the 1951 film, 'The Thing from Another World'. I shall also be reviewing the 2 disc edition DVD. So, without further ado...
First of all, I would just like to state that it very much depends upon what you are looking for when it comes to watching this film. If you like the old 1950s American B movies, then this movie is very much so for you. However, if you seek plenty of gore and special effects, then I would suggest watching either John Carpenter's remake of this film from 1982, 'The Thing', or, indeed, the 2011 prequel film of the same name.
If you like a film with plenty of dialogue, character development and a little bit of suspense, then this film is also for you.
Finally, just to point this out, if you happen to have a good knowledge of the situation in the United States c. 1951, then watching this film shall really stand to you as it certainly picks up on this. This is best seen through the conflict between the scientists who wish to examine the creature, the news reporter who wishes to broadcast the story of its finding to the world, and the army who must wait for orders. Put simply, all of this evokes the feeling of the post Hiroshima/Nagasaki world within the film in the sense that people became very much afraid of what they did not understand and how things that we do not understand are perhaps best left alone. Basically, that is the main point of this movie as a whole. All in all, it makes for a very good one.
With this 2 disc edition of the film, you get the original black and white version with a commentary track by John Carpenter and the colourised version on the first disc. Both of these versions are excellent, and this is especially the case with the colourised version of the film. It really is like watching a brand new film - the little things you notice are just fantastic! Then, on the second disc, you get a remastered version of the original black and white feature. For me, this was worth the extra bit of money alone. I mean, forget Blu Ray - the quality of this version, for a DVD, was absolutely incredible. An excellent purchase all round, in my opinion.
So, to finish up, with 'The Thing from Another World', it all very much depends upon what you are looking for. If you love a classic 1950s American B movie, then this is definitely the one for you. If you prefer gore and special effects, consult something else entirely as you will not find it here. Lastly, if you are a fan of this film and want to get the best of all worlds, I highly recommend this 2 disc edition DVD. An excellent and essential purchase!
Thank You for reading this review. I hope it helps.
This is without doubt the best of the '50's aci-fi movie's that followed the onset of the Cold War.It's a simple story,a monster on the loose in a restricted and restrictive enviroment,in this case a scientific station in the Arctic.An airforce crew are sent to investigate reports of an aircraft crashing nearby,which turns out to be a flying saucer.Nearby,encased in the ice,is the pilot and when he defrosts it turns out he's in a mighty hungry after his long journey.And,unfortunately for some of the residents of the station,on the planet that The Thing is from, evolution has taken a different course to ours and vegetables drink blood.Human and animal.
Sounds pretty formulaic,but what really sets this film apart is the acting,direction and script.A fine ensemble cast bring interest to even the most minor characters and Kenneth Tobey,Margaret Sheridan and Robert Cornthwaite give their best performances along with several others.That's down to the dialogue;often smart and sassy,overlapping like a good Altman movie,and when it gets technical it stays believable.
Nothing stays still for long,something's always happening, but the tension,and the film actually is tense despite being 56 years old,is maintained by largely not showing the monster.We catch glimpses;in the distance in a snowstorm,through a briefly opened door,in the chaos and confusion of a fire.Enough to satisfy us,but not so much we take it for granted.
In the past there have been claims made that Howard Hawks directed it,even so the name on the credits still says Christian Nyby ,but whoever did it did a damned good job.Like Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers this film transcends its genre and that's why it's been remade so much,once officially,by John Carpenter,and several times unofficially in theme and plot.
Carpenter's version is easily as good as this original,albiet a lot gorier and with more special effects,and if you like the plot and atmosphere of one you'll like the other.However,if you're only interested in the blood and guts of Carpenter's version you might as well give this one a miss.For myself I find it an endlessly rewatchable late night movie.Up there with Hichcock's 39 Steps or Bob Hope's version of The Cat And The Canary.
on 6 November 2009
I first saw this picture on Moviedrome on Sunday night in my late teens. Already being a fan of black and white Sci- Fi pictures thanks to my mum I was immediately enthralled.
I have owned a (well worn) VHS copy and now have the dvd (which was part of the excellent Classic Sci-Fi box set).
This picture is so good that even its bad points are worth recommending.
I am not going to go into the plot here as you will have read it above other than to say it is simple yet excellent.
The way the suspense is built is fantastic, if you swap the geiger counter for the motion trackers you are watching the most effective bits of Aliens.
The mix of horror and comedy are decades ahead of the current crop.
Ok the monster is a bit rubbish but used so sparingly and effectively that it still works.
It beats the John Carpenter version for me in total package but must concede in terms of closeness to the source material.
All in all I must put this as one of my top five favourites and cannot recommend it enough. If you are already of fan of these films then it is a must see and if not then it is a perfect start to your new obsession.
The Dramatic "slow burning letters through background" opening title sequence; were enough to sear this film into my childhood psyche, and maybe that is why speculative fiction has attracted me so much. This is a film, which is based on the 1938 novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell.
The narrative of the film, is already been done well in other reviews here. What I wanted to try in my review is to look at other aspects of the production. Our lead, forced by the circumstances of the situation is Captain Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) who plays a credible leader of his men. He exhibits a very human side, to his character, in that he realizes he does not know everything and is willing to take pertinent advice. Robert Cornblaithe is excellent as Dr. Carrington. He comes of being "highbrow" and arrogant - yet still likeable enough, as he does admire Captain Hendry - that said, he cannot see eye-to-eye with him on their circumstances or how best to deal with the "Thing From Another world." Every character in the movie is well played. Their look and attire fit their characterisations and each Professor/scientist is believable. However, Margaret Sheridan seems only there to add a feminine touch and love interest to the piece, sadly this is for me, anyway, is the only thing that makes this production somewhat dated. Apart from the obvious villain of the piece, the so-called "intellectual carrot" - as one person calls him. Dr Carrington character is an amalgam of 20th century scientists, which the public felt were out of touch, and were too focused on the science, then over concerns surrounding the perceived negatives of the new nuclear age.
--" A film that tapped into a post-Hiroshima uncertainty about science and antagonistic views of scientists who meddle with things better left alone"--
The "alien/thing" is better presented as being quite frightening. You hardly ever see him. When you do, it is only for brief moments and then usually in the dark. That frightening vocalization of "The Thing" is very original in that it is not just a growl but sounds ethereal at times. This then culminates to very spooky feel to the celluloid. The narrative that is being told; is well known, and still gives it a good account of itself, as it is easy to identify with the creature since he is humanoid.
If you boil down the constituents, you get suspense, drama and dark overtones - this original production had the benefit of being monochrome, and it certainly added to the suspense and unreserved danger the players are in. The choice is yours. I myself enjoy the original (1950s production) a little more, then the 1980s reboot, as - for me it holds up better, While Jon Carpenter's version is more in line with the book, and -for me it just feels different, in that it is more FX driven.
The Thing from Another World is set at The North Pole and finds a bunch of US airmen, scientists and a journalist getting more than they bargained for when they investigate a space craft frozen in the ice.
What is most striking about the film is its basic human story of team work, the pulling together during a crisis, this theme is a big shift from the short story by John W Campbell Jr. (Who Goes There?) Where that story and later John Carpenter's wonderful remake focused on paranoia and mistrust, this film is something of the "polar" opposite (literally) as regards the group in peril. It bears all the hallmarks of producer Howard Hawks, who clearly influenced Nyby's direction. The script, with its pros and cons of military and scientific society, is very much of its time, blending po-faced observations with straight backed joviality. But this all works in the film's favour and helps define it as one of the most important science fiction pictures ever made.
Along with the other major sci-fi movie of 1951, The Day the Earth Stood Still, "The Thing" firmly brought the visitor from outer space idea into the public conscious. But where the former film intellectualised its alien visitor, resplendent with a message of worth, the latter is about terror, pushing forward the notion that the visitor here is a monster that wants to drink our blood and attempt World domination. No major effects work is needed here because one of the film's bright spots is only glimpsing the creature (James Arness) in little snippets, and this after we are made to wait for some time before things kick off. This begs us to think for ourselves as regards this stalking menace. Putting us firmly with this intrepid group of people, and we want to see them survive and we care if they do succeed.
The low end budget doesn't hamper the atmosphere or flow, in fact Nyby, Hawks, cinematographer Russell Harlan and music maestro Dimitri Tiomkin, work wonders to ensure there's a level of authenticity to the Arctic base and that peril is never far away. Not hindered by many of the clichés that would dominate similar themed genre pieces that followed it, film neatly taps into fears that were to become prevalent as the 50s wore on. It may not be perfect, but a genre star it still be, so watch the sky tonight indeed. 9/10
For years I've been a fan of John Carpenter's version of this classic, and have been waiting for a chance to see this, the original, produced by Howard Hawks in 1951. It was well worth watching. For my money this is the better film.
For those of you who don't know, the plot is quite simple. A small group are working in a lonely North Pole scientific expedition. A strange craft crashes nearby, and its inhabitant is thrown free and frozen in the nearby ice. The expedition recover the body and take it back to their camp, where, as it thaws out, it's true nature is revealed and members of the expedition start to die in mysterious circumstances. There follows a tense and atmospheric tale as the crew come to understand the Thing, and defend themselves against its diabolical scheme.
This film is an out and out classic. Personally I love the fact that you almost never see the monster - as with Alien it makes for a very suspenseful movie, and the final `reveal' is nicely effective. There are several very intelligent themes running through the film, such as the scientist's exasperation at the military's instinct to kill everything, which is given a nice twist when the scientist eventually gets his way and tries to communicate with the Thing. This was filmed at the start of the cold war, and seems to be a good allegory for the American view of the struggle against a largely unseen enemy, with all the paranoia that such a situation engenders.
This release contains three versions of the film on two discs. There's the original theatrical release, in black and white, with an interesting commentary from John Carpenter. Also on the first disk is a colourised version, then on the second disk is a digitally re-mastered version of the black and white feature. All are presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio with 2.0 stereo sound. The original has a typical picture quality for the time. The colourised version is interesting, and the colour does add to the imagery, especially in the final scenes with the Thing. The best version though is the re-mastered black and white version, the picture is so beautifully sharp you almost find yourself shivering when the action moves out onto the ice.
An excellent presentation of a superb film. Recommended!
"The Thing from Another World" is a 1951 sci-fi film from the USA, directed by Christian Nyby (and/or Howard Hawks, depending on who you believe). It is broadly based on the short story "Who goes there?" By John Campbell (although John Carpenter's 1982 remake much more closely follows Campbell's original story and characters).
Air Force Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and his crew are dispatched from their base in Anchorage to a polar station, following a report from there that an unidentified plane of some description has crashed nearby. A reporter, Ned "Scotty" Scott (Douglas Spencer) tags along for the ride.
When they arrive at the site of the crash, they realise it is a space ship, but inadvertently destroy it when trying to thaw the ice around it. Near by, however, they discover the body of an alien, frozen in ice. They take the frozen creature back to base, where they thaw it out by mistake, resulting in "a little local difficulty".........
As "creature features" go, this is a good one. It has become quite famous (partly I think due to the Carpenter "remake"), but also because it is a really good little film. (I liked the scene when Hendry opens the door to the greenhouse......). It is played straight, the acting is good and the basic story is gripping.
4 "B"-movie stars out of 5.
on 7 May 2014
This is not a modern special-effects blockbuster so it is not fair to compare it with the modern re-makes or prequels. Watch and enjoy it for what it is - a classic Black and White sci-fi story with a hero, quirky characters and the obligatory beautiful woman assisting the scientists. It uses dialogue and the isolation of the Arctic to build lots of tension. As well as the dangers posed by "The Thing" itself, there is dramatic conflict between the "practical" military and the "idealistic" scientists. This was made just a few years after the first Atomic Bombs had been used, when Arctic bases were a cover for lots of real Cold War espionage and the USA was getting paranoid about Communism. You won't get fast-paced action full of blood and gore in every scene, you will get a great set of characters and a strong story with some "made you jump" moments!
on 26 May 2011
This is a classic B&W 50s Creature Feature. The print is good quality with no issues with either the picture or the sound. The film is set at the North Pole where a team of military and scientists investigate a fallen meteor that turns out to be a crashed flying saucer. In trying to recover the saucer it sinks beneath the ice but they are able to retrieve the body of an alien in a block of ice.
The alien, inevitably, is not dead, is able to escape from the block of ice, and runs amok through the ice station, killing all in its path. The film turns into a game of cat and mouse but as the humans disappear and the heating gets switched off, the viewer begins to question who is chasing who. The humans are snowed in by bad weather so they have to deal with the alien on their own. Any help would arrive far to late.
This is a tightly scripted film with dialogue spat out at machine gun pace. There are several stock characters; the wisecrack reporter, the mad scientist, the rugged hero who always gets his gal. With a small cast trapped in a small set, the plot relies on tension between personalities rather than plenty of CGI shocks that you would get in a similar film now. The alien owes its appearance more to Frankenstein's monster than the typical portrayal at the time of little green men.
This is the film that the 1982 John Carpenter film, The Thing is based on. There are similarities in the situation and basic premise but after that plots are very different. This film has stood the test of time very well and should be essential viewing for all scifi buffs.
on 11 May 2007
I rate this 5 stars for the film itself and for the commentary by Carpenter (it's about time someone did this!). I would rate the color version at least 4 stars. Although people scream and screech about the colorized version, I find it very interesting. In some ways it's like seeing the film for the first time again. My eyes are drawn to things I never noticed before. It still is rich with atmosphere like the black and white version, and unlike a lot of colorized films, I think the color palette in The Thing is quite effective. Having said that, of course, the black and white original is the standard and the proper way to first see the film. But, come on folks, it's not like the color version is supplanting the B&W, as this release proves. The only thing about the color release is that it's the edited 80 min version, not the complete 87 min. film, hence 4 stars. A 7 minute sequence between Kenneth Tobey and Margaret Sheridan where she expresses her feelings about the meaning of "that thing in the ice" and a following scene where she jokes with him romantically, and she's thinking he's tied to a chair in her office, is missing. This 7 minutes is present on the black and white version, however. On the other hand, in some ways, the film's pace seems to work better without those 7 minutes. Either way, this is a great great science fiction film, likely the most sophisticated of its era, and I don't agree that this release is a rip off.