Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Thing from Another World

(8/21/11) At an Arctic outpost comprised of scientists and Air Force officials, a large spacecraft is discovered in the frost at a nearby location. A team goes to check it out and realizes that it is a flying saucer that has been there for a long time. Their efforts to extract the craft result in its destruction but inside they find a giant, still preserved spaceman. Taking him back to base, he is accidentally thawed and begins to wreak havoc on the members of the crew who must quickly devise a way to destroy the seemingly indestructible being. "The Thing from Another World" is one of the foremost monster movies of the 1950s. From the often adapted story Who Goes There? by  John W. Campbell, which was the basis for Alien and the John Carpenter/Kurt Russell remake of this film, which is credited to director Christian Nyby, is often thought to be the work of producer Howard Hawks, whose reputation was too high to have his name on a B picture. Blending science fiction and horror, the movie contains cheesy effects (with the monster being nothing more than a man in high heels dressed in a plastic suit) and character types (the doctor who spews vegetable metaphors and insists on reasoning with the creature for science's sake as well as the know-it-all wisecracking reporter are both particularly annoying) but ends up being pretty entertaining fare. I think the secret to this film, as well as Carpenter's and Ridley Scott's film is the location and atmosphere. The coldness and remoteness are played particularly well here and the result is a highly entertaining popcorn flick.

(4/4/13) I watched the movie again, thinking I would like it more, but wound up enjoying it about the same. I find it bogged down by technical detail and jargon and am not sure I understood the central moral conflict from the point of view of the crackpot scientist or whether or not that was supposed to be taken seriously. I did really like the self-assured performance by Margaret Sheridan (who says feminism was nonexistent in the 50s?) and the scenes with the monster, cheesy as it is, are genuinely scary and exciting.