THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) review – Halloween Special 2018

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It’s Halloween month, y’all, and you know what that means! It’s time to catch up on our favorite horror movies and gear up for Halloween! Last year, I did a Halloween special where I reviewed some of my favorite horror, or Halloween-appropriate movies and I had so much fun doing that, I wanted to do it again. Sadly, I don’t like a lot of horror movies, so my pool of material is about as deep as a puddle in summer in California. So in order to rectify this, I’ve reached out to the deepest and darkest corners of the internet and asked for a little help. And by that, I mean I went on Facebook. So, a very special thanks to the Movie Talk community, as well as my friends and co-workers, for your horror movie suggestions. I won’t be able to get to every single recommendation, but you’ve all left me with great ideas and there’s always next year! This is my Halloween Special 2018!

Cast: Kenneth Tobey (AIRPLANE [1980] and 1 episode of ANGRY BEAVERS [1997 – 2001]), Margaret Sheridan (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Robert Cornthwaite (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Douglas Spencer (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), and James Young (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of).

Director: Christian Nyby (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)
Writer: Charles Lederer (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)
Composer: Demitri Tiomkin (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)
Cinematographer: Russell Harlan (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD [1962])
Editor: Roland Gross (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of)

This is my honest opinion of: THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD

 

(SUMMARY)

Respected pilot Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) has been ordered to go on a mission to the North Pole. He and as Air Force crew scientists have tracked something that crashed near an outpost and soon discover an otherworldly ship buried under ice. But they also discover an unconscious alien trapped in ice as well and is taken back to the outpost. But as time goes on, the alien awakens and has proven to not have come in peace.

(REVIEW)

I liked it. Eh, for the most part. I have a few complaints.

My primary issue with the movie is the tone after The Thing is revealed in its entirety. This is supposed to be a dramatic horror movie, but the way some of the characters act, you would think this was something of a fun action-adventure movie. When The Thing makes its first appearance, this is supposed to be a legit horrifying moment. But you have characters making light-hearted jokes, which takes me out of the moment. I would understand if someone was joking as a coping mechanism to mask his fear, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s just, “Hey, a scary-ass alien just attacked and killed two of us. Mondays, am I right?”

Also, maybe this is just a me-thing, but I thought that the design of The Thing was a little uninspired. It just looks like a Frankenstein’s monster rip-off. I would say that I shouldn’t be too hard on the 1950s for having a limited pool of make-up and creature designs, but I would argue that the 1930s had Jack Pierce, who was basically a grandmaster of make-up for the time period who, using Boris Karloff’s face, created the most iconic monsters that still make their way into pop-culture today in 2018. Twenty years later and Hollywood was running out of ideas even back in the 50s? This seems rather lame.

I also wish that this movie was a little smarter about its debates. IE: killing the alien, or keeping it alive and trying to communicate with it. Specifically, Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) and his “leave the creature alone” side of the argument. Obviously, we know why the alien needs to die. It’s a threat. Makes sense. But all Carrington does is repeatedly spout, “In the name of science! For scientific advancement! We are here to ask questions! Science! Science! SCIENCE!!!” It was getting a little grating.

With all that said, I can’t deny that there’s more than enough to enjoy.

Even though the monster’s threat-level gets reduced when it’s revealed, it’s still got a damn good atmosphere of suspense, intrigue, and build-up. There’s also an interesting angle in which it’s less about being a story of survival and more about how to deal with it. This doesn’t do the cliché of the heroes not being able to communicate with the outside world. They can, and they’re forced to follow orders from their military superiors to not harm the monster, even though it’s killed several animals and two people. What I definitely appreciate is how Hendry doesn’t take those orders lying down. He acknowledges that the orders were made, but he quickly decides that he’s going to do the smart thing and try to kill it anyway, even though it might mean a court martial for him. Characters like this are always welcomed for my taste.

I also give credit for the action sequences, primarily the scene when The Thing attacks everyone in the barracks. I’m always impressed by early filmmaking techniques that have the balls to light a person on fire. Today, it’s all done with computers and very rarely done with practical effects, or it’s too quick to really appreciate the moment. When everything is erupting in flames, you really get a sense of how strong the alien is and just what kind of threat it is. This scene was awesome, cheapness and all.

Overall, I like the movie enough, but it’s got a few too many elements that I don’t agree with. The monster is forgettable, the tone isn’t consistent, and not all of the characters are well-written. With that said, the characters that are good are really good and that’s what really elevates the story. I say this is worth a watch, especially if you’re a fan of the Carpenter remake and compare styles.

My honest rating for THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD: a strong 3/5

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