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The Thing From Another World


Title: The Thing From Another World
Year Of Release: 1951
Running Time: 87 minutes
DVD Released By: Warner Brothers
Directed By: Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks (uncredited)
Writing Credits: Screenplay by Charles Lederer based on the short story Who Goes There? By John W. Campbell Jr. Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht (uncredited).

Starring: Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, James Arness.
Taglines:
1. How did it get here?
2. Natural or supernatural?
Alternate Titles:
The Thing

Review Date: 11.28.04 (updated 1.1.10)

See alternate posters here and here.

Shadow's Title: "Killer Vegetables From Space"

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DVD
The Thing from Another World

Characters
Captain Patrick Hendry – Ranking USAF officer trapped at the North Pole. Has a level head on his shoulders so despite his relaxed command style, the arrival of The Thing makes him fall back on his military discipline and training. Butts heads with Dr. Carrington. Bumps uglies with Nikki.
Dr. Arthur Carrington – Chief scientist at the arctic facility. Absolutely refuses to acknowledge the danger and threat represented by The Thing and annoyingly maintains an ongoing diatribe on how superior it is to Homo Sapiens and how we Humans could learn from it. Loves turtlenecks.
Ms. "Nikki" Nicholson – Carrington’s assistant and secretary. She seems to have quite an unusual relationship with Captain Hendry. Are they an item or aren’t they? Don’t let the cute face fool you. This woman can drink most men under the table. Contributes more than some of the men.
Ned "Scotty" Scott – A reporter in desperate need of a story. I don’t know what he thinks he is gonna find at the freakin’ north pole, though! Irate polar bears who are not getting enough Coca-Cola? Eskimos being taken by freezer salesmen? Giant prehistoric beasts found frozen in the ice?
Lt. Eddie Dykes – Captain Hendry’s co-pilot. Something of smart aleck, though he never comes off as annoying or as a coward and is always willing to do what needs to be done, even if it means putting his ass on the line. In fact, this movie is refreshingly free of cowards and chickenshits.
Sargent Bob – Don't get me wrong: he was never called Sargent Bob in the film, it's just that he held the rank of Sargent and at no time was he ever called anything else other than that or Bob. He backed up all of Hendry’s decisions and offered up quite a few good ideas of his own.
Lt. McPherson – Captain Hendry’s navigator. Along with Dykes, he teased Hendry non-stop about women and booze. Because of that I’m surprised that Hendry didn’t invent stuff for him to do, like cleaning the entire plane with a toothbrush or serving as a hood ornament at twenty thousand feet.
Corporal Barnes – Now this is the guy responsible for The Thing getting loose. He covered the block of ice containing it with a blanket so he wouldn't have to look at it. Too bad it was an electric blanket which thawed the ice. What a moron. I wonder if he was later shot for his idiocy.
Dr. Chapman – This guy was the one scientist who, from the very beginning, was wary of letting The Thing thaw out. He was really the only one who acted like a real scientist. I have to believe that real researchers in such a position would not be so hasty to release the creature.
Professor Vorhees – Another scientist. Initially he sided with Carrington and was upset at Hendry’s refusal to let them thaw out The Thing. However, once the bodies started to accumulate, he switched sides. No doubt to save his own ass more than anything.
Dr. Redding – Yet another scientist. He didn't have a big part, but I included him because like actor Paul Frees (Professor Vorhees) George Fenneman was probably most well known for his voice, hosting various radio and TV shows in addition to his voiceover work.
The Thing – The intellectual carrot who comes to Earth looking for a nice place to literally sow his wild oats – and the human blood needed to nourish them. He kind of looks like the Frankenstein Monster’s retarded cousin, but sounds like a kitty cat that was just sat on by Hurley from Lost.

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

AKA The Richard Simmons storyThe film opens with one of the best title sequences ever (in my humble opinion, of course), accompanied by the blaring but frightening theme music. Listening to that music and seeing the film’s title appear as if revealed by the darkness melting away around it (kind of a neat bit of foreshadowing) really helps set the mood and atmosphere. You just know that you are in for a scary time. The remainder of the opening credits unfold against a dark and snowy background. Then we fade out…

…and fade in to the exterior of an Officer’s Club in Anchorage Alaska. True to the locale, the weather is frightfully cold with a fierce wind blowing the icy snow in all directions. Only one person seems to be out and about on this night and he heads straight for the club’s front door. This is Ned Scott, a reporter who is looking for a story. He approaches three men who are playing cards at a table and greets one of them. This turns out to be Lt. Eddie Dykes, who then introduces Mr. Scott, or “Scotty” to the other two – Lt. McPherson and Captain Hendry. Some playful banter is exchanged about tropical weather and half-naked women while Scotty warms himself in front of the nearby fire and tries to thaw out.

"Cut out the card tricks and just deal already!"Hendry wins a hand at poker, calling McPherson’s bluff. This is the cue for Dykes to launch another barb in Hendry’s direction, saying that it was unwise for McPherson to attempt to fool the Captain as “only dames can do that.” This sets up a running gag throughout the film, wherein Hendry’s flight crew teases him mercilessly about his track record with the ladies. Some more talk is exchanged about warmer climates – Seattle to be exact and Dykes tells Scotty that if he wants to go there for a story, they’d be willing to fly him there. McPherson makes a comment about Hendry’s heart being “wrapped around the North Pole,” for which the Captain quickly makes him hush, but Scotty asks what is going on up North.

It seems that about two thousand miles to the North, a bunch of scientists are holding up, doing whatever scientists do when they get together in large numbers (besides watch Star Trek). Included in the bunch is an interesting woman described by Dykes as a “pin up” girl, about whom Captain Hendry can give the reporter any information he wants – according to McPherson. This last comment earns the two Lieutenants a smart-ass quip from their Captain, but before he can go on, a voice on the loudspeaker summons him to a General Fogarty’s office. Before he leaves, Scotty solicits a promise from Hendry to bring him in on whatever the General wants to see him about. Hendry leaves and Scotty takes his place at the card table.

Hendry arrives at Fogarty’s office. The General seems a bit on the cranky side, admonishing Hendry with more than just a bit of annoyance to close the door. Ok, yes it is cold and windy outside and an open door is going to let that cold air gust in…but naturally Hendry is going to close the door. It’s not like he opened the door and then stood in the open doorway, contemplating whether to enter or not and letting in Frosty the Snowman to dance a cold weather jig on the General's desk. Yet, the General acts like the Captain has committed some horrible crime in having the door open for all of four or five seconds. Fogarty quickly gets down to business. He has received an odd radio message from that base at the North Pole where all the geek…er …scientists are hanging out. The chief scientist, Dr. Carrington, believes an unknown aircraft has crashed in their vicinity and wants someone to come investigate. Fogarty orders Hendry to take along a dog team and check it out.

About now the buzzer sounds, denoting someone at the door. Fogarty calls out to whomever it is to come in, and once again lets out a “Close the door!” when the officer enters. The General then whines about the Pentagon not sending him a revolving door. What a freakin’ crybaby! Anyway, the new arrival hands over a weather report before leaving (this time the General doesn’t shout anything, just moves his hands to prevent papers on his desk from flying around, but his face sure looks like someone who is in the process of shitting their pants). The weather report indicates that a storm is moving in, but Hendry should have plenty of time to get up and back before it arrives. Now wait – the base is two thousand miles to the North…just how fast a plane does Hendry fly? The Concorde? The Starship Enterprise?

Hendry asks if Scotty the reporter can tag along on the trip and Fogarty tells the Captain that for all he is concerned, he can maroon the journalist up there. Then he instantly changes his tune and makes sure that Hendry knows he was just joking. Fogarty warns Hendry about not busting the landing gear again before telling him that he is expected to be back the following night. Hendry just smiles ands says, “Yes, sir…and I’ll close the door.” HAHAHAHA. As Hendry leaves, Fogarty turns to his aid and mumbles, “nobody tells me anything.” Gee, ya think? Maybe that is why the Airforce has you stationed in the middle of nowhere!

So now we cut to a plane taking off and flying over snowy terrain. Inside the cockpit Hendry and Dykes are enjoying coffee brought to them by Corporal Barnes. In the back along with the sled dogs, Sargent Bob wakes Scotty and McPherson (who from this point on in the review will be referred to as Mac) for coffee as well. Everyone now does their best to crowd into the cockpit like a truck full of Mexican landscapers and Scotty asks how far out they are from the camp. Hendry informs him that they still have a three-hour trip ahead of them as they were forced to slow down due to a little head wind. Dykes looks incredulously at his Captain’s description of the weather and then tells Scotty that the “little” headwind was more like forty miles per hour.

Dykes then dons his headset and quickly alerts Hendry to an incoming message from the arctic base. The radio operator at the base, a guy called Tex, informs Hendry that there has been a lot of interference recently playing havoc with the instrumentation, and sure enough Hendry’s plane is off course slightly. Hendry will have to home in on the base’s signal. Tex offers to either leave the key open or sing to them. Wisely, Hendry opts for the former.

Gee whiz, ya think you can cram any more people into that cockpit?We see the plane again and a close up of the characters in the cockpit. Hendry directs Scotty’s attention to a point below them and we then see an aerial shot of the arctic research base. Now, this seems to be the only Stock Footage shot in the film that I can spot. The camera lens is noticeably spotty and dirty and the entire shot doesn’t seem as “clear” as the preceding ones, so I’m guessing they dug this up out of some old archive. Scotty notes that the taxpayers “ought to see this.” Um…why? It’s not like this place is all that big or extravagant. Then again, with the obscene amount of money the federal government throws away on things like hammers, toilet seats and stationary, this place must have cost hundreds of millions.

Now we get the following sequence of shots: plane flying, plane landing, plane slowing to a stop, people exiting plane and people stumbling through the snow towards the buildings. I noticed they left the dogs inside the plane. The poor doggies! Did they crack open a window for them? This might not be the time to do so with how cold it is outside as well as the way the snow flurries are gathering strength. One question…if the dogs crap all over the interior of the plane, who is the unfortunate sap who pulls clean-up duty?

They all come stumbling into what looks like a communal dining room where lots of greetings are exchanged with those already inside. Captain Hendry introduces Scotty to a few of the locals, including Dr. Chapman and his wife. Chapman reveals that there have been some intense discussions on the nature of the mystery object that recently crashed. Hendry tries to make a quick getaway in order to check with Dr. Carrington, but Mac and Dykes corner him and playfully ask him where he is off to in such a hurry, knowing full well that their Captain is off to see Nikki. Hendry promises to get even with them some day, smiles and then leaves the room.

A short walk through some dimly lit corridors brings him to a staircase, which in turns leads to a well-lit office where Nikki is busy at a typewriter. She is open and friendly at first but the look on Hendry’s face makes it obvious that something is bothering him. She asks how his trip was and tells him that Dr. Carrington would like to see him. However, Hendry wants to talk about the “down right dirty trick” Nikki played on him. Some playful banter is then exchanged with some laughing and mock anger thrown in and we learn that while in Anchorage earlier, these two went out and drank up a storm. Nikki seems to have held her own, not throwing away any drinks and fending off the Captain when his hands started to go exploring. Evidently he passed out and she left a note about how pretty his legs were and put the note on his chest – where it was seen by several people before he woke up the next day. He admits he may have started off wrong and wants to begin things over again. Nikki seems agreeable to the idea but ushers him out of the room before they can discuss it any further as Dr. Carrington is waiting to see him.

She leads him to a lab where all manner of scientists are playing with their chemistry sets. In the corner is Dr. Carrington, sitting at a contraption that looks like some old radar or sonar type device. Carrington greets Hendry and after dictating a few brief notes to Nikki, tells him they need to go to a point approximately forty-eight miles away, to investigate a possible plane crash – though the Doctor isn’t sure it is a conventional aircraft. Hendry wants clarification so Carrington has Nikki read aloud his notes on the matter. The day before it seems, their instruments registered an impact at the location in question…an impact that could only be made by something composed of twenty-thousand tons of steel, iron or some other heavy element.

Hendry remarks on how it sounds more like a meteor. Carrington then explains that they have telescopic cameras that are tripped into functioning when the presence of radiation is detected. He shows the Captain a series of photos taken by those cameras that show an object moving parallel with the surface of the earth before ascending somewhat and then descending and vanishing from detection. A meteor might seem to travel horizontally but one would never move upwards, so whatever it is, it ain’t no meteor (or technically, a meteorite). One of the other scientists explains to Hendry how they were able to determine the distances to the point of impact, but the Captain doesn’t even bother to try and comprehend the scientific talk. However, he does think that twenty thousand tons of steel is an awful lot of metal for an airplane, to which Carrington replies, “It is for the sort of airplane we know, Captain.” The fear that it may be a Russian spy plane of some type is left unsaid but seems implicit in Hendry’s sudden desire to investigate as soon as possible.

So they all pile into Hendry’s plane and take off. Between the flight crew, all the scientists and the dogs, the back compartment of the plane is getting a little cramped – and no doubt pretty stinky. I imagine those scientists just reek. Anyway, Mac looks at some instrumentation and says they ought to be getting pretty close. Carrington is called forward and alerted to their proximity. Mac begins a countdown and halfway through, Bob picks up something on the Geiger counter (we will soon learn that this guy is hardly ever without the damn thing). They all stare out of the windows like lost dogs until Hendry spots something below. The compass is in a spin and the Geiger counter is at the top. I’d say they have arrived. Below them is the crash site, but no wreckage can be seen, just a big spot where something has melted through the ice. Dykes mentions a smooth area about half a mile behind them, so they all strap in and prepare to land as Hendry turns the plane around.

The plane lands and they embark on a brief overland trek with the dog sled while some piano music plays that sounds like Tom and Jerry racing back and forth across the keys. They reach the crash site, which looks like a big round frozen pond with a shark fin sticking up in the middle, and the theremin music kicks into high gear. Bob notes how the Geiger counter is going crazy then Scotty starts snapping pictures while Carrington and Professor Vorhees talk about how the craft must have landed and melted the ice as it came to a rest. Once Scotty has his pics, everyone marches out across the ice. The reporter asks Doctor Chapman if an airplane could melt that much ice. Chapman replies by telling him that “one of our own jets generates enough heat to warm a fifty-story office building.” That sure is a long-winded way of saying, “Yes.” Sheesh.

The “fin” is actually the only part of the downed aircraft that is visible and Bob mistakes it for part of an airfoil. Carrington asks Vorhees if he can determine what kind of metal the craft is made of. Vorhees requires some tools, Bob shouts to Barnes to brings some tools. Looking through the ice, the group can only see a dark shape underneath them. Carrington suggests they all spread out so they can determine the exact size and shape of the aircraft. The music rises dramatically and then stops altogether as they gradually spread out into an unmistakable shape.

When in the arctic, be wary of ice sharks.Everyone is quite shocked to discover that the object under the ice forms a perfect circle. These dolts just found a genuine flying saucer! My only problem is that the size of the saucer suggested by the men outlining it above doesn’t seem big enough for a craft weighing somewhere in the vicinity of twenty thousand tons…unless it was constructed from neutronium. Then again, The Other Half’s purse is quite small yet still weighs a friggin’ ton. The flying saucer must operate under similar conditions.

Now strap yourselves in for some rapid fire dialog. The scientists are about to piss themselves out of sheer excitement, forming one hypothesis after another. Vorhees reveals that the “fin” is not any metal with which he is familiar and is most likely a new alloy of some kind. Carrington is eager to examine the craft and speculates on possible passengers. Scotty nearly craps his own pants and wants to transmit a message, but Hendry wisely prevents him from doing so, having realized that what they have stumbled onto is something that needs people at higher levels to deal with, rather than a single airplane crew. He sends one of his men back to the plane to radio General Fogarty and apprise him of what they have found and to ask for Scotty to have clearance to send his message.

They realize that chopping through the ice is pointless, and with a storm moving in, standard operating procedure for removing ice dictates the use of thermite bombs. They plant a bunch of bombs around the ice covering the saucer, then fall back to the snow. The bombs are ignited, but they trigger some sort of reaction in the crashed ship and the vehicle explodes. Sadly there is nothing left to salvage. This is what we are told through dialog as onscreen all we see is a mild explosion and the ice field looking pretty much the same. If a large ship had exploded under the ice, would not that same ice be, at the very least, disturbed somewhat, if not totally melted? Hell, the thermite bombs didn’t even melt the ice, yet they ignited with enough force to trigger a chain reaction in the saucer that destroyed it but not the ice. What is really funny is how they all throw themselves to the ground as the ship detonates, then slowly pick themselves up. While that is happening, the sled dogs are still standing, calm and relaxed as if nothing has happened at all, and are not barking, whimpering or jumping around in a heightened state of excitement that you’d expect.

Couldn’t something be salvaged from the crash site? Twenty thousand tons of material can’t be vaporised by a few small thermite bombs can it? Even if the thermite detonation triggered the craft’s engines into exploding, there should still be something left. Neither explosion looked to be of sufficient size, power or intensity to completely eradicate twenty thousand tons of material. Unless those engines were powered by antimatter and the containment systems failed. Then again, if that was the case, everyone standing there would have been annihilated faster than a pizza at a fifth grader’s Chuck E. Cheese birthday party.

So they are all bummed out because the ship went Kablooey. They stomp around the ice a bit more and Bob picks up some faint readings on his Geiger counter. They all rush to him like a pack of kids swarming the one who has candy. What I wonder about is the radiation he’s detecting. He says it is very faint. Now, correct me if I’m wrong (seriously I mean it – I want to know) can an explosion brought on by thermite bombs really eradicate the radiation produced by the crashed ship? Just because that ship is now in a zillion pieces doesn’t mean the radiation has gone away, does it? It doesn’t seem so to me; but then again, I’m no scientist. Anyway, following Bob’s readings they find something else in the ice that survived the destruction of the saucer – a humanoid trapped in the ice.

Another round of wild speculation follows and they decided to get axes and chop the frozen alien out of the ice before the approaching storm makes it impossible to fly. Next we see the plane taking off, so we know they were successful. During the flight back, Mac reads from some Air Force magazine a statement put out by the Department of Defense that calls all UFO sightings hoaxes. They all get a good laugh at how wrong they have just proven the government to be. Another quick montage shows the plane landing and the group moving the large chunk of ice containing the alien towards the compound. At least they let the dogs off the plane this time.

They bring the block of ice to a storage room where the temperature is constant. This will result in the ice melting, so Hendry orders the windows opened in order to keep things cold enough and prevent such a melting. This instantly incenses Dr. Carrington and Dr. Vorhees, who want to extract the alien and examine him. Hendry on the other hand wants to wait until he receives orders from his superiors before doing anything…especially after having destroyed the flying saucer. Vorhees tries to assert Carrington’s authority, but Hendry is unwavering. He then posts Mac as the first one to stand watch and will have someone relieve him in four hours.

In the corridor, Vorhees and Carrington try to make their case again for thawing out the alien, but Hendry gets support from Dr. Chapman, who brings up the possibility that the alien may be carrying germs that they won’t be able to cope with and that it should be examined under much more controlled conditions. The scientists seem split over the issue and someone finally suggests radioing General Fogarty to get instructions. They all head to the radio room where Tex conveys the last two messages received from the General down in Anchorage. Fogarty orders him to keep a lid on the story until Air Force HQ gives the go ahead, so poor Scotty is stuck with a story and no one to whom he can tell it. Fogarty authorizes the use of thermite bombs in removing the ice over the Flying Saucer, which lets Hendry off the hook for destroying it. The second message was quite garbled but it was evident that weather conditions had grounded the General for the time being. Carrington still wants to examine the alien since Fogarty cannot make it, but Hendry still will not allow it. He leaves Corporal Barnes in the radio room with Tex and instructs him to continue the attempts at contacting Fogarty. Then everyone splits up and goes in different directions.

Next we see Hendry and Dykes together, and the good Captain is all spruced up in fancy duds and is shaving. Scotty comes in and inquires as to why the Captain is getting all prettied up. Then Barnes arrives with news from General Fogarty. It seems there has been a leak and the news services have learned of the man from outer space. Fogarty is going nuts but because he is transmitting with a stronger signal, they can hear him but cannot send anything in return that will cut through the storm. Bob then arrives and wants a minute with the Captain. He is there on behalf of Mac, who is going crazy alone in the room with the frozen Thing. Bob got him an electric blanket (PLOT POINT) but suggests to the Captain that they cut the four-hour guard shifts to two hours each. Hendry agrees and revises the duty schedule. Bob says, “I think you’re right, sir,” and then moves on.

Hendry then approaches Nikki in the mess hall and they talk a little bit about the discovery and the ramifications stemming from the realization that mankind is not alone in the universe. She commends him for his decisions during the whole affair and offers to buy him a drink…if he would like that. He suggests that she can even tie his hands if she wants (so he won’t repeat his octopus impersonation). When we see them next, they are in Nikki’s office with Hendry seated at a chair, his hands tied behind his back. Nikki feeds him a glass of booze and Hendry says she can untie him now. They talk a bit about the time they shared in Anchorage. Then she kisses him and goes for a pack of cigarettes. It’s not until she goes to light one for the Captain that she realizes that he has managed to untie himself. He gives her another big kiss and then leaves, having things to check on.

In the room with The Thing, Barnes is relieving Mac, who is quite glad to be leaving. Hendry stops by to see how everything is going and to remind Barnes that Bob will relieve him in two hours, before leaving with Mac. Barnes looks at the frozen alien and gets unnerved, so he places the electric blanket over the entire block of ice so he won’t have to look at it. IDIOT!!! Taking into account that the desk he is sitting at faces away from the block, I have to wonder why he was so worried. He wasn’t looking at it in the first place. Some time goes by and the ice is shown to be melting. The sled dogs outside begin to bark, sensing that something is quite wrong (and given that no one is playing a Yanni album nearby, that can only mean one thing). Barnes goes to get a cup of coffee, but a shadow moving behind him makes him freeze. Turning around, his face changes to one of horror. He jumps up, makes for the door, pulls out his revolver and fires off several shots as he goes. A mewling sound, like that of a cat being stuffed into a tuba is all we hear from The Thing. Barnes stumbles into the hallway and runs screaming into the Mess.

I’m guessing that ain’t a posturepedic mattress.He tries to tell everyone that The Thing is alive and loose, but is so flustered he just babbles. Dr. Chapman throws cold water in his face so he will calm down and eventually he is able to tell his story to Captain Hendry. The Captain gathers his men and goes to investigate. In the storage room they find what is left of the ice block, but no sign of The Thing. The door blows open and the dogs are heard barking outside. They look through the windows and can make out the vague shape of The Thing as it fights with the dogs. Afraid that the dogs will tear the alien to pieces, they don their parkas and rush outside. However, The Thing has run off after killing a couple of dogs – but not before they managed to tear off one of its forearms. The men take the arm back inside for study.

They all gather around a table, military men and scientists alike, and examine the arm and hand. The barbs on the hand are a chitin-like substance and the internal fluids bear a striking resemblance to plant sap. It appears that going by the arm, The Thing is not an animal lifeform. It is in fact, a vegetable and its nature is why bullets had no affect on it – just holes drilled in plant matter. Carrington theorizes that it hails from a planet where plant life underwent an evolution similar to that of animal life on Earth, and how creatures from this type of environment have no doubt evolved to feed off animals. In the palm of the alien hand, seedpods are found. It is at this point that Carrington’s admiration for The Thing begins to take root (take root…hahahaha) and he starts going on about how it is obviously superior to we Humans. His speech is interrupted when the hand begins to move. It seems the dog blood on its surface has somehow been ingested and that has revitalized it. They realize that The Thing requires blood in order to survive.

On that ominous note, some of Hendry’s men arrive with axes and he announces that they are going to go looking for The Thing. Carrington launches into a “it’s just a lost alien in a strange land” speech and wants a chance to communicate with it. Hendry says that Carrington can talk to it all he wants, provided it is locked up. They begin a room by room search that includes the radio room, labs where some isotopes trigger Bob’s Geiger counter and the greenhouse. They find nothing, but as they leave the greenhouse, Carrington holds a couple fellow scientists back.

"We know you’ve got some pot around here somewhere!"Carrington has noticed that a few of the plants are wilted. They examine the outer door to the greenhouse and confirm that the lock has been forced and bent back into position with someone absconding with the key. A cabinet has a small bit of blood on it and when they open it, they find one of the dead sled dogs…drained of blood. It all makes sense to Carrington: The Thing, being a plant, searched out the only open earth within miles and was hiding in the greenhouse. When it heard the search party approach, it fled. Sure that it will come back again, Carrington proposes taking shifts and waiting for it…but not telling Captain Hendry about their plans. He feels that science should handle the situation and that The Thing is wiser than Humans and should readily be open to communication.

The next morning, Hendry and his men search the outside area around the camp, but find no evidence of The Thing. The highlight of their morning was running into a polar bear (I wonder if it was drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola). They are all enjoying hot coffee in the Mess when Tex arrives with messages from General Fogarty. The General wants the aircraft and any occupants protected, and is wondering why Hendry does not acknowledge his messages. Is the General an idiot? Doesn’t he realize that the base transmitter is not powerful enough to cut through the storm? Hasn’t anyone informed him of that? I suppose not, as according to the General himself earlier in the film, “nobody tells me anything.”

As they discuss all this, Dr. Stern comes stumbling in; looking like he just went toe to toe with that polar bear. He tells Hendry of Carrington’s discovery in the greenhouse and how he was standing guard with two others when The Thing stormed the greenhouse. He was knocked out and when he came to, the others were hanging upside down from the beams, their throats cut. He managed to escape but is unsure if The Thing is still inside.

Hendry and his men rush to the greenhouse with Scotty following in hopes of getting a picture. Hendry approaches the door and when he opens it…SURPRISE, The Thing is standing just inches away on the other side. The creature takes a swipe at Hendry but the Captain manages to slam the door on the monster’s arm. It withdraws its hand and Bob fires a few shots through the door. Then they quickly board up the doorway to prevent the monster from escaping. Sadly, Scotty failed to get a photograph.

Dr. Carrington arrives and Captain Hendry confronts him on his decision to withhold information and post men in the greenhouse. Hendry is furious that these actions led to the deaths of two men and restricts Carrington to his lab, the Mess and his room. At this point they are sure that The Thing is securely confined within the greenhouse so they post guards in the hallway to monitor the door.

Later, Dr. Carrington calls several scientists to his lab where he has Nikki read to them his latest batch of notes and journal entries. They detail how Carrington took the seed pods from the severed alien arm and hand, and then placed them in four inches of earth before saturating the earth with two units of plasma taken from the base’s blood bank. A few hours later the first sprouts appeared through the soil. The unbelieving looks on the faces of his colleagues prompts him to lead them to an adjoining room where he shows them the sprouts in question. Ok, I realize that at this point Carrington had had very little sleep and was extremely tired, and that this was why the others did not buy his story – just assuming he was so exhausted, he was making up stuff. But why was it so unbelievable? They had a freakin’ plant man which had regenerated a lost arm already running loose and they had determined that it had sought out fresh earth…so why did they not believe that the seed pods had sprouted? Are they just idiots? Anyway, they examine the sprouts, which are pulsating and when listened to with a stethoscope, emit a chilling sound reminiscent of a new born baby’s cry. Nikki excuses herself and the others suggest Carrington get some rest, claiming he has lost sight of the bigger picture. They suggest that The Thing may be on Earth to conquer it and utilize Humans as food. Naturally, Carrington dismisses the very idea.

Sometime afterwards, Nikki is typing up Carrington’s notes when Captain Hendry stops by to see her. He wants to know if she has any idea why Dr. Stern is receiving blood transfusions rather than some of the plasma units he himself brought up previously. Nikki lets him read Carrington’s notes, which do not please Hendry one bit. He goes to Carrington’s lab and confronts the Doctor on his “gardening.” Dr. Chapman backs up Hendry and other scientists begin to side with the Captain, who orders the plants burned. There is a lot of arguing back and forth over the situation. About this time Tex arrives and says he finally got through to General Fogarty, informing him on events up North. The General orders Hendry to keep The Thing alive and to take no action to harm it, news that greatly pleases Dr. Carrington.

The encyclopedia salesman at the front door was not going to take no for an answer.More time passes and Dykes returns from a patrol to inform Hendry that weather conditions have made it nearly impossible to keep guard on the greenhouse from outside. Since they cannot keep tabs on The Thing, the Captain has everyone gather in the mess hall for safety. Nikki arrives with coffee while the men try and figure out what to do about the creature should it come back for them. Nikki suggests that the thing to do with a vegetable is to boil, stew, bake or fry it. This gives Bob an idea on how to use all the kerosene they have. Before he can detail it, the Geiger counter begins registering something – The Thing is on the move nearby. Bob suggests pailing up some kerosene and setting the creature on fire, igniting it with a flare pistol. Some quick preparations are made while Bob monitors the Geiger counter and Hendry fires off some orders, to which Bob tells him, “I think you’re right, Captain.” They turn off the lights and soon enough the door busts open, The Thing highlighted in the doorway. They douse him with kerosene and Mac fires the flare at it, setting it on fire. The Thing runs around the room a wee bit, clawing at people, before jumping through a window and fleeing into the cold night. Everyone is then left with the task of putting out all the flames in the burning room.

Later, they all gather in the Mess hall and tend to their wounds. Hendry wants everyone to stay together now that they have found a way to hurt the creature. He intends to go after it again as soon as they are organized so they won’t burn out every room in the base trying to fend off its attacks. Hendry marches out into the hall and starts devising a way to rig a new intercom system so the hunting party can keep in contact with the rest. One of the scientists suggests using electricity rather than kerosene against The Thing and Bob chimes in with the idea of catching the monster between two insulated poles. Hendry gives them the ok to start work.

Soon after this while with Tex in the radio room, Nikki calls attention to Scotty’s breath. Thinking that she is referring to its no doubt pungent aroma, he gets defensive, but she clarifies for both him and Hendry: their breath is now visible, a sure sign that the temperature is dropping. Soon after they realize that the heat is off all over and that there is no more oil coming in to the base whatsoever. There can only be one explanation since the tank was just filled two days prior – The Thing is trying to freeze them out. Figuring that the creature will go after the electricity next, they decide to move everyone into the generator room. Bob and Dykes suggest locating their electrical trap in the hallway leading to the generator room, as The Thing will have to follow that path to get to them all. Frenzied preparations are made as everyone moves into the generator room and the Airforce personnel rig up the trap.

 


Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 


Now we see the final touches being put on the trap. The inside temperature has now dropped to five degrees Fahrenheit. Hendry tells Scotty to stay in the generator room when The Thing shows up, saying that the reporter has no place in the hallway where the confrontation will take place. Scotty balks at this idea and reminds the Captain of all the horrible places to which he has been and many terrible things he has seen in his day. Mac and some other nameless fool are serving as sentries at the far end of the camp and check in via the new intercom setup. Then Tex arrives with the latest message from General Fogarty. The General wants Hendry to preserve the lives of all the base personnel, but take no action against their visitor from outer space.

This last bit of news is all Dr. Carrington needs to launch into another tirade against Hendry and his methods, requiring Hendry to have him forcibly removed. The sentries begin getting readings on their Geiger counters, alerting them that The Thing is getting closer. While waiting, someone asks Scotty if he got a picture of The Thing when they lit it on fire. Scotty says that he did not, as the camera went off as he fell backwards over a bed and he probably just got a picture of his own feet.

The temperature continues to drop as the Geiger counter readings steadily increase. Hendry figures their unwanted guest will be arriving via the mess hall. Bob now offers up another suggestion. He advises turning out the lights so The Thing will have trouble seeing the electrical gear rigged up on the walls and ceiling. He also suggests meeting the monster at the hall junction and letting it chase them back to the point where the trap is set, lessening its chance at discovering it. Before he can say anything else, Hendry agrees and says, “and don’t tell me I’m right.” (HAHAHA) The sentries are recalled and everyone gets ready.

Mac wonders if The Thing can read minds, to which Dykes replies, “Then he’s gonna be real mad when he gets to me” as he brandishes a pickaxe. Soon enough sounds can be heard in the Mess and The Thing storms out into the hall, where it easily demolishes a wooden barricade put in place to slow it down. It picks up a giant four-by-four in one hand and advances threateningly on the group. What’s it gonna do…teach them carpentry?

Just then the power goes out. Nikki calls out urgently from the generator room. Hendry and Bob rush to see what is wrong, with Dykes left behind to hold off The Thing as long as possible. It seems Dr. Carrington has turned off the generator and is holding everyone there at gunpoint. He begins another one of his “I won’t allow you to destroy it” speeches but only gets a few words out before Dr. Chapman wrestles the gun away from him and the generator is activated again. Hendry and Bob run back to the confrontation with the monster.

...what a world..."...what a world..."I'm melting...The Thing continues to advance slowly down the hall, but Carrington now rushes out to meet it. He appeals to its intellect and says that he knows it is lost and confused and he only wants to help it. The Thing responds by roaring at him and knocking him down the hall to land in a heap with a single blow. It continues to advance toward Hendry’s men (and it seems to cover the same two-foot area several times in subsequent shots). However, it is not on the wooden walkway that conceals the electrical fence wire. Dykes throws his pickaxe at the creature and it dodges out of the way and onto the wooden walk. It advances more and when it gets to the right spot, Hendry flips the switch and the electric trap is sprung. Electric arcs reach out to engulf The Thing, which writhes in pain and slowly is reduced to a heap of ashes. The threat has been ended. However, Scotty was never able to get his picture. The poor sod just faints when all is said and done.

What became of the lump that was all that remained of The Thing? Was it saved for study? Was it pitched out with the rest of the garbage? Or was it thrown into a blender and used to create a creamy bread dip that the crew ate with their cold cuts before departing once again for Anchorage?

Don't forget about those skies, now. Later, the outside storm has passed and Tex warms up the radio. Dr. Carrington survived his encounter with the monster and is recovering in the infirmary. Nikki and Hendry discuss what they will do now and the subject of marriage comes up, which seems to unnerve Hendry. Dykes, Mac and Bob are all there to chime in with their thoughts of course, mentioning some night in Honolulu that prompts Hendry to tell them to shut up. Tex gets the radio working and a connection is made to Anchorage where a room full of reporters are waiting anxiously for details. Scotty, in his element, gets on the horn and begins to relate what has happened, praising the actions of all concerned. Before going into details he gives everyone a warning: “Every one of you listening to my voice – tell the world. Tell this to everybody wherever they are – watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.”

The End.


Review

Back in 1947, in a little place tucked away in a forgotten corner of New Mexico by the name of Roswell, there occurred an incident that is famous (infamous?) even to this day. Initial reports claimed that an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) had crashed and had been taken into custody by the U.S. military. Later reports denied such an event had taken place and the unusual flying object spotted by a number of people was nothing more than a weather balloon. In the decades since, all manner of stories, theories, myths and legends have sprung up over what may or may not have transpired there. What really happened may never truly be known, but one thing is for sure – the entire affair helped to fuel America’s fascination with flying saucers, men from space and all other aspects of the final frontier. To this day the name Roswell is synonymous with UFO’s and aliens.

At this same time in the post World War II era, the United States was caught in an ever more frightening game of military brinkmanship with the Soviet Union. This Cold War in turn helped to fuel the communist scare and the demonification (demonization?) of anything deemed “Socialist.” Those Commies could be anywhere, and stamping them out was not only in America’s best interests, it was also her duty. This Red Menace would haunt the American psyche for decades to come, finally petering out with the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. However, its true legacy on America was felt in the 1950’s, with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s infamous crusade against any communist activity or communist sympathizers within the federal government as well as the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigation into the communist influence in Hollywood. This era of heightened anti-Communism culminated in the tragic blacklisting of many talented individuals in Hollywood, many of whom had no ties whatsoever to any political group, let alone the communist party.

Taking these two distinct elements and mixing them together was “Who Goes There?” a short story by the legendary science fiction writer and editor John W. Campbell. In this story, a group of men are trapped at an Antarctic base and must confront a nightmare creature from outer space in order to survive. A life form that has the ability to alter it’s appearance in order to resemble those around it. An entity that absorbs others into its own identity. A threat that can take the form of anyone around the isolated men. There could be no greater euphemism for the perceived evils of socialism and communism, even if such parallels were unintentional on the part of Campbell (the story was first published in 1938, before World War II and the Roswell incident).

The rights to the story were soon bought by Howard Hawks, who was one of the staples of Hollywood, having been in the film-making industry since the early twentieth century and seeing the rise and fall of the studio system as well as the transition from the silent era to the age of sound. Hawks commissioned a script, mapped out the film and brought in actors and a film crew. The result is The Thing From Another World. While deviating from the source material, the film still maintains the two core elements – people trapped in an icy wasteland confronting a dangerous alien life form, and a subtle undercurrent of 50’s communist paranoia.

Simply put, this film is awesome. While surely appearing dated to today’s jaded crowd, this movie still manages to pack quite a punch on several fronts. There is skill of all sorts on display here: in the acting, in the directing, in the writing…even in the musical compositions. Everything comes together in a synergism rarely glimpsed in such movies.

The Storyline.
First lets look at the horror/science fiction story aspects. This film is the genre equivalent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, where a small group of people find themselves trapped on an island with a murderer. Here, substitute the base in the barren arctic wasteland for the island and the alien creature for the murderer. Throw in a healthy does of 50’s communist fears and you have a situation played more for dread than for tension. These people are trapped with a threat unlike any encountered before by men. Murderers, agents of a foreign power or any other Human foe could be easily dealt with, but what do you do when your enemy is not even Human? Furthermore, what plan of action do you take when that enemy is not even an animal, but is a vegetable lifeform that appears resilient to every form of attack and/or defense that one has used? These notions are addressed as the characters struggle to at first contain The Thing, then later to just survive. The actual horror is subdued, with only verbal confirmation of hideous deaths, and no real response seen to those deaths other than anger and outrage. Rather, the horror is more implicit in the events unfolding onscreen. The audience sees, along with the characters, the threat facing the entire world and the horrifying consequences that may one day befall us all if action is not taken. This is the type of approach almost lost in modern cinema, which revels in overt storytelling.

Characterizations & Acting.
Horror and science fiction elements aside, what really makes this film stand out are its characters and their excellent development by the writers. This group, while appearing to be cast from a mold at first, transcend the stereotypes and eventually come across as real people. The two standouts are Captain Hendry and Dr. Carrington. All too often in horror and science fiction films, the military is presented as unthinking, trigger happy morons who cannot and will not try to comprehend anything other than their own weapons. They subscribe to the might is right attitude and think everything can be solved with a gun. They must be reigned in by the superior minded scientific field, whose intellectualism has afforded them better clarity and judgement. Conversely, the opposite is sometimes portrayed: that of the misguided scientist so eager to make a discovery in the name of science that he or she is blind to the ramifications of such a pursuit and the danger all around them. These individuals must be protected by the military, who seem to be the only level headed people around as well as the only ones capable of resolving the situation.

The Thing From Another World is unique in that it utilizes both these approaches in its story, and doesn’t vilify either side, though it does tend to side a wee bit more with the militaristic method of handling the situation. Dr. Carrington is the mouthpiece for the pacifist/intellectual side, who admires The Thing for what it is and what it has accomplished. He is firm in his belief that there are no enemies in science…and he’s right. He’s thinking like a pure researcher. He only sees phenomenon to be studied and just cannot comprehend the danger of the whole affair. On the other hand, Captain Hendry personifies the military and the “take action” approach. Yet, he doesn’t undertake any one course of action simply because of some ingrained military ideology. His first action isn’t to lash out simply out of instinct and anger, but rather to act out of caution. When The Thing is first brought back to the base, he is adamant that it remain on ice until he receives further orders from his superior officers. While he is following the chain of command, it also displays his realization that he is out of his element and desire to appeal to a greater authority. Even when the creature is loose, he wishes to contain it and doesn’t take any action to harm it until it itself has already committed murder. These are hardly the actions of a trigger happy soldier.

Still, the conflict between him and Carrington – between militarism and intellectualism, is at the forefront of the story and is indicative of the time. The very real fears of communists and the Red Menace represented by the Soviet Union are quietly dealt with here. The film tells the audience, in its own subtle way, that while higher learning and intellectual pursuits are not bad or evil things, America must follow its instincts and be prepared to trust the military when it comes to threats from outside. In this case, outside is represented by outer space, but we all know that the what the film really means is “outside America.”

Speaking of the actors, they all turn in excellent performances here, especially Ken Tobey. He brings both a strong, Alpha male quality to Captain Hendry as well as an easygoing sense of fun. He comes across as the guy you want to hang out with and whom you’d want at your back in a fight. His chemistry with the others really helps to sell the sense of camaraderie that permeates so many of the scenes with him and his men. I’ll admit, I may be a bit biased towards Tobey, as he ranks at the very top of my list when it comes to favorite 1950’s movie actors. I was delighted to see him in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the mid 1990’s and he was one of the very few celebrities who’s passing actually made me feel like I had lost something. It saddens me that I will never have the chance to tell him how much I enjoyed some of his movies.

Likewise, Robert Cornthwaite (EDIT: who has sadly passed away since this review was originally written) does a great job of portraying Doctor Carrington, despite having been in his early thirties when playing the part of a man no doubt meant to be at least two decades older than that. The gray coloring to his hair and restrictive turtleneck attire no doubt helped in essaying an older man, but he manages to instill a quiet dignity within Carrington that is balanced by his strong passion for science and truth. While his actions cause grief for the obvious hero, Captain Hendry, he still cannot be considered a villain in this film. That two such opposite characters can both come across as good guys is a testament to both the script and their acting chops. Unfortunately, I suppose the most under utilized cast member is James Arness as The Thing itself. He is hardly on screen and when he does put in appearance, it is fleeting and he is not seen too clearly. Our best look at him is at the end when The Thing advances slowly on the men in the corridor.

FX.
I’d venture to say that for its day, The Thing From Another World had pretty decent effects. Not that there are all that many to see. The script cleverly has much of the action that would require such costly FX taking place off screen or prior to events in the story, such as the crash of the saucer or The Thing re-generating a lost limb. The bulk of the optical effects are made up of rear projection shots. At the end there are the electrical arcs that seem to be matted into the shot, but that is really about the extent of the visual stuff. The remainder of the FX is comprised of “on set” stuff: explosions, bullet squibs, fake dogs, a dismembered hand that seems to move thanks to a convenient camera angle, the use of fire as a weapon, lots of work by the stuntmen and of course the make-up applied to James Arness in order to transform him into The Thing. While nothing jumps out as super special in any way, neither is there anything that is so ineptly handled or cheaply produced that it causes the film to screech to a halt, like the “bird as big as a battleship” did when it was first spied in The Giant Claw.

The aforementioned monster make-up is probably the single worst aspect to the entire picture. It is obvious that the producers had neither the budget nor the means to realize a faithful adaptation of the original story’s monster: a creature that can take on many shapes and mimics those of the beings it has absorbed and taken control of; so it is understandable why the decision was made to make The Thing a humanoid. Still, one has to believe that there were many more decidedly alien looks that could have been utilized in favor of the Frankenstein’s Monster Clone with which we ended up. It is readily apparent that the make-up didn’t film very well, as The Thing never gets a close up. While some may consider this a detriment, others will attest to otherworldly and odd qualities this decision evokes in the title character. It depends on your personal tastes, I suppose. Me, I love this film so unabashedly that I firmly fall into the latter group.

Music.
Dimitri Tiomkin’s original musical is by far some of the best heard in a science fiction film to come out of the 1950’s. The movie opens with a rousing piece that sounds like a patriotic anthem, but quickly segues into a foreboding theme that represents the arrival of The Thing and the danger it represents. This is accented by an eerie use of the theremin, the instrument that produces the sound most people think of when remembering old horror and Sci-fi flicks. Tiomkin utilizes a variety of instruments to help convey both the isolation of the arctic camp as well as the otherworldly nature of the visitor. The music isn’t as overt or as noticeable as in other films, which greatly works in its favor: one is not consciously aware of it helping to set the mood, but one is definitely aware of that mood. After all is said and done, the film closes on that same rousing theme from the beginning, as if to say that mankind has triumphed over the unknown and all is well once again. Overall, fantastic stuff.

Technique.
Looking past all the subtexts and we see a set of characters who are quite real. This is exemplified by the dialogue. Hidden amongst all the talk about flying saucers, men from Mars and outside threats are the small little nuggets that are pure character. Such as Dykes, Mac and Bob continually teasing Hendry about his previous experiences with Nikki, other women and booze. Another example is how Bob, on several occasions, tells the Captain, “I think you’re right,” once Hendry agrees with one of his suggestions. This continues to the point where Hendry even tells him at the end “Don’t tell me I’m right.” It’s the small little things such as these that help flesh these characters out and make them much more believable as real people. After a first viewing, many of these facets may be overlooked, but repeated viewings will make them apparent.

One reason they often go overlooked at first is that Howard Hawks’s productions were renowned for their lightening fast dialogue exchanges and this film is by no means an exception. There are times when the spoken lines come so fast, that one wonders how many times the actors had to rehearse in order to get such precision timing down. There literally are several moments when there is never a second without someone speaking. This may prove distracting to some, but I happen to feel that it adds to the overall mood and claustrophobic atmosphere that is sometimes evoked.

Summation.
Overall, The Thing From Another World places at the top when it comes time for me draw up a list of my favorite movies. It’s a classic that should be seen by anyone who calls him or herself a fan of the genre, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly cannot be denied that this film has earned a spot for itself in the annals of B-Movie history – at least, the genre of films that is considered to be comprised of “B-Movies” in this day and age. It can be appreciated as an example of societal fears that ran rampant in the 1950’s, or just taken at face value as a great sci-fi/horror romp.

 

Expect To See:
Aliens
Aliens - One extraterrestrial stranded on Earth after having crashed his flying saucer into the ice near the North Pole. Never operate an interstellar spacecraft after drinking.
Killer Plants
Killer Plants - It just so happens that The Thing levolved from vegetables. However, things were not nearly as goofy as the "Great Vegetable Rebellion" seen later on Lost In Space.
Monsters
Monsters - The above E.T. Sure he was intelligent and far beyond a simple-minded animal or beast, but his actions on Earth certainly classify him as a monster.
Science
Science - The most basic of science was used to resolve the situation. Plus, scientific examination was used to gather vital information on The Thing and its biology.
Snowy Hijinks
Snowy Hijinks - We’re at the North Pole. Try and tell a story without snow and ice.
Stock Footage
Stock Footage - Not much, really. Just a couple of aerial shots of the research facility that obviously came from some old military archive.
Violence
Violence - Some gunplay and a scene with lots of fire. Human deaths take place offscreen and we never see a body, just a description of how they died, though a dead dog turns up.
 
Other stuff - No Spaceship Icon because none is ever seen (aside from a small fin). No Haunted House Icon because the atmosphere was more one of danger rather than spookiness.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Human deaths: 2
Alien deaths: 1
Animal deaths: 3
Cigarettes smoked: 8
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 2
Fried Vegetables: 1
Times Hendry is teased about women: 7
Times Bob “gives” Hendry an idea: 3
Times Scotty fails to snap a photo: 3
Evil weeds being grown: 24

14 Mins – Ask Doctor Stupid!
18 Mins - I wonder if there’s time for a hockey game.
23 Mins - KABOOM!!
27 Mins - They found the frozen corpse of Walt Disney!
39 Mins - What is the SOP for dealing with a complete idiot?
42 Mins - Somebody call PETA!
57 Mins - Knock, Knock. Who’s there? RAAAR!
61 Mins - You know, most people just have chia pets.
82 Mins - Mammals: 1, Plants: 0
86 Mins - The end. Keep watching the skies!!!


Shadow's Drinking Game: Whenever Scotty is refused permission (either by someone present or via the radio) to send his story, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

"This game sucks. X-Box rules!"

"So which one of you idiots forgot
to bring our hockey gear?"


"If you think this ice cube is big,
wait until you see the size of
the General's martini glass."


 
The Tip O’Neil torture method:
force-feed booze to the
prisoner until he spills his guts.


"When I asked for a hand in rounding
up the dogs, this is NOT what I meant."


"I’ll give five bucks to the first
person who takes a bite."


 
"Hold it everyone, my bullshit
detector just went off."

 
"Now listen, if you don’t quiet down
in here and start behaving, we
aren’t going to bring you any dinner."


"Damn it! The dog got into my pot
stash and is now stoned off his ass."

"Righteous, the Colombian stuff!
Let's pack a bowl!"

"Flame on! Flame Off!….Flame Off!!!
.…FLAME OFF!!!! AAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!"

The new representative from the
Carpenter’s Union was one tough
SOB when it came to the building code.

 

Immortal Dialog

The gang have realized the object under the ice may be something more than they initially thought.

Scotty: "Holy cat!"
Hendry: "Hey…it's almost…"
Bob: "Yeah…almost a perfect…"
Vorhees: "It is. It's round."
Bob: "We finally got one!"
Scotty: "We found a flying saucer!"

Shadow’s comment: Wow, you just can’t put one past these guys.


Scotty’s warning and the film’s famous closing line.

Scotty: "And now before giving you the details of the battle, I bring you a warning. Every one of you listening to my voice – tell the world. Tell this to everybody wherever they are – watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies."

Shadow’s comment: And the Fog! Keep watching for The Fog! Don’t forget the Fog!! (Before remaking The Thing, John Carpenter paid homage to the original with a similar warning at the end of The Fog).

 

Keep In Mind
  • Alaska is a favored hunting ground for reporters.
  • Despite there being only two seats, entire plane crews can fit into a single cockpit.
  • All interstellar spacecraft are saucer shaped.
  • Spaceship hulls can easily withstand the heat of atmospheric re-entry, but a little thermite and a hand file can do serious damage.
  • Examining a frozen alien takes a backseat to a date with a hot chick.
  • Electric blankets can be used to revive frozen people.
  • Radiation can be eradicated by a big enough explosion.
  • Scientists make good plant food.
  • Some people need to be surgically removed from their Geiger counters.
  • Intelligent or not, vegetables fry quite easily.
  • The proper amount of electricity will actually cause vegetables to physically shrink.



This Film & Me

Growing up, my dad would regale me with tales from his own youth and various moviegoing experiences he had. One of his most vivid memories was of seeing this film when it first hit theaters. It remains one of his all time favorites to this day. Cultivating a love for 50’s Science Fiction and Horror like I did, this film thus became one of my "must sees." I finally caught it on late night TV sometime in the very early 80’s, and it quickly became one of my favorites as well. Even after seeing John Carpenter’s remake, which I consider to be one of my favorite horror films of all time, I still loved the original, as the two films are very different from one another. It was not until the late 80’s and early 90’s when I bought this film on VHS and watched it repeatedly, that many of the film’s subtle nuances became apparent to me, which only increased my appreciation for it. Once it hit DVD, I rushed to get it and it was one of the first vintage films I bought for my DVD collection. Even though it is over fifty years old now, I have come to regard this film as my favorite movie ever. I have watched it so many times, yet I never tire of it.

Shadow's rating: Nine Tombstones



The Good

  • Great performances by all involved
  • Fantastic dialog and characterization
  • Spooky, isolated setting
  • Perfectly paced
  • Good atmosphere of fear and dread
  • Legendary coda
  • Good, creepy music

The Bad

  • Frankenstein monster-like make-up for title alien
  • Predictable scientist vs. military subplot
  • No budget to show downed spacecraft
  • Deaths occurr off screen
  • Poor continuity in spots

The Ugly

  • Mini-Me version of alien seen at end
  • Thing thawed out due to sheer idiocy
  • Short sightedness on part of alien

 

 

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