Tuesday, April 26, 2011

FI: The Thing from Another World

The Thing from Another World
US, 1951
Directed by Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks (uncredited)

An ensemble picture with elements of chamber play and post-WWII science-phobia, The Thing from Another World is one of the better films of its era and genre. There's something practical and pleasing about the way in which its plot unfolds, adding bits of information and nuance organically as the story progresses. It punctuates stretches of solidly-written dialog with dribs and drabs of horror and action, remaining engaging through it all.

The story is about a team of researchers in the Arctic who get help from some Air Force men when they see an unknown object crash into the ice. It is, of course, a "Flying Saucer," and its eventually-unfrozen pilot is a humanoid, blood-drinking vegetable beast. The military wants to destroy it, but the chief scientist wants to study and replicate it.

The film's central conflicts are the standard ones of the genre: man vs the unknown, might vs. brains (via military vs. science), reason vs. blindly idealized progress. Somehow, the small, cold setting, tight framing, and emphasis on group dynamics carries The Thing from Another World past its more conventional peers. It doesn't hurt that the story on which it's based is a crackerjack one, and was successfully remade by John Carpenter as The Thing some 30 years later. If you're into '50s sci-fi, this is a must-watch film.


  1. Yes, this is a great movie and The Thing is one of my favorite horror/sci-fi movies.

    The thing has been playing, uncut, on a cable channel that I can't remember at he moment and I have watched it 3 times already.

    I wonder if the new prequel will live up to it's inspirations.

  2. @spurge

    Yeah... both versions are really great. I'd probably drop in on the uncut version airing on whichever channel that is! It's well worth watching multiple times.

    I have very high hopes for this prequel, but (as always) equally high fears. We'll just have to wait and see!

  3. I wish I could remember which channel it was on. Maybe Encore?