Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Thing from another world (1951)

I am so lucky to have a revival movie house within walking distance!  I love the Stanford Theatre but they play, if I am lucky, one horror or sci-fi film per year.  For 2012 they decided to play one of the best, Howard Hawks' The Thing from Another World.  Based on John W. Campbell Jr's Who Goes There? (see my review here), The Thing from Another World inspired countless filmmakers, not the least of which is John Carpenter, who would direct the remake in in 1982. 

Although he didn't "direct" it, The Thing is very much a Howard Hawks film.  Rapid fire dialog, action, humor, strong characters.  It bears very little resemblance to the source material, a rare instance when the remake follows the origin story more closely than the original film.  Researchers in Arctic discover a downed flying saucer.  The Air Force comes to investigate, and accidentally blows up the ship. 

Luckily (or unluckily as it would turn out) one of the passengers escaped the ship in time, and is now encased in the ice.  The Scientists want to thaw him, the Air Force Captain, played by Kenneth Tobey, wants to wait for orders.  A misplaced electric blanket is going to decide the fate of all of them.

Didn't the Norwegians do this?


The great James Arness plays the monster (aka "The Thing").  Unlike the shape shifter/human morpher of Carpenter's film, this "Thing" is more of a...........vegetable.  Don't knock it till you see it: carrots can be very scary!

I have seen this film a few times before and I appreciate it more every time.  It's damn funny and holds up well.  Arness is very scary as the monster, sort of a more demonic Frankenstein.  So here is my suggested Thing marathon:  see The Thing from Another World.  Then see The Thing.  Then read Who Goes There?.  Then watch the The Thing again.  Then watch The Thing from Another World again because it is so damn charming.  Please skip the mess of a prequel. 

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