The Thing from Another World
Dir. Christian Nyby (but apparently really by Howard Hawks)
Starring Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan and James Arness.
RKO Radio Pictures
A group of pilots are flying to a remote research base in the arctic but their compasses keep getting thrown off by some magnetic disturbance. Eventually, they go to investigate this disturbance and find what appears to be a spacecraft from another planet. They seem pretty darn calm to have just discovered a spacecraft from another plant. The bad part is the spacecraft is buried under several feet of ice. To get to the spacecraft, a rare artifact from another planet, they naturally chose the delicate method of using a shitload of explosives. KABOOM! Ok, the ship is mostly gone but somehow it’s pilot survived encased in a big block of ice. The big block of ice is a useful gimmick – that way you can’t see exactly what the creature looks like – they just say it’s man-shaped. They bring the Thing via airplane back to the research center and debate what to do with it. Of course, shenanigans ensue when the guy guarding the Thing accidentally leaves his electric blanket on top of the Thing’s block of ice. The Thing attacks and kills some sled dogs BECAUSE IT NEEDS BLOOD. Oh, by the way, they discover that it’s a plant too. A PLANT THAT NEEDS BLOOD! Oh shit! They go on to fight like hell against the dreaded plant/man/alien/monster/bloodsucker/dog killer/celery stalk from hell. The action and dialogue in the fighting or good enough. Naturally one of the scientists is wowed by the alien plant and wants to protect it. Scientists, pffft.
The Thing from Another World was “unofficially directed” by Howard Hawks, a legendary director who directed other movies like Sergeant York, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Rio Bravo. Sorry Howard, but I like Rio Bravo, with John Wayne and Dean Martin, better than this movie. I didn’t like The Thing from Another World quite as much as Them! or The Beast from 20000 Fathoms. The acting, dialogue, cinematography and the like were all fine but the least convincing thing was The Thing. To be a plant from another planet, it sure looked a hell of a lot like a regular guy from earth. Since it’s black & white, you can’t even tell that he’s supposed to be green. Given the vague clues given by the scientists about the nature of the plant creature, they could have gone any direction with the evil plant effects, instead, they just put a guy in a green suit. When you make a monster movie, the identity of the monster is important! Interestingly enough, the guy playing the plant was James Arness, who later became better known as Marshal Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke. Granted, this movie was made in 1951, before films like Them! and The Beast from 20000 Fathoms. But still, I found the Thing himself (itself?) to be not as interesting of a bad guy as in some other monster movies. Still worth watching.
Entertaining – 4, Serious Movie – 3, Camp/Silly/Goofy – 4 (because of the damn bad guy costume)
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