Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Thing from Another World

The Thing from Another World; science-fiction, USA, 1951; D: Christian Nyby, S: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite

North Pole. A UFO crashes and remains stranded in the snow. A group of US soldiers is sent to the crash site, where the use thermite to try to free the spacecraft from ice, but the explosion just destroys it. They manage to bring a humanoid frozen in ice in the spacecraft, though, and bring him to a nearby station. The alien humanoid escapes from the molten ice and starts attacking the inhabitants inside. After a lot of hiding, the crew manages to kill the alien with the help of electricity.

By today's standards, "The Thing from Another World" directed by Christian Nyby (and allegedly by Howard Hawks, but that is a matter of dispute that was never resolved) is a dated science-fiction film that is too tame to be truly suspenseful, with equally irrelevant themes of a possible "red invasion" of the US, yet it is still often mentioned in film lexicons for inspiring Carpenter's far better - and scarier - remake "The Thing", one of the rare remakes better than the original. The setting of several people trapped in a station on the North Pole does have potentials, but they are only sporadically used in an effective way, the "love story" between Mrs. Nicholson and the soldier is too cheesy, the dialogue is bland, there is too much empty walk whereas it is a curiosity that the sole monster is only seen for about 15 seconds (!) in the first 70 minutes of the film. Likewise, the alien's design is too human, though that might have been deliberate. The finale is proportionally well done, but does not manage to retroactively compensate for the whole story up to it, nor justify its stauts of a true classic.


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