What’s it About?
Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a blood-thirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.
“The Thing From Another World”
Directed by Christian Nyby
10 out of 10
“The Thing from Another World” set the bar so high that till this day many sci-fi films are striving to leave an impact the way this scary, timely and symbolic film did. It is a fantastic character study about how cooler heads will prevail under the threat of an alien threat. Not a threat from another country but a threat from the stars.
The quick, smart and witty script by Charles Lederer really stands out as does the eerie and unique score by Dimitri Tiomkin. But it is the large ensemble cast (I’ve lost count at around 15 actors) that makes this sci fi gem work. Russell Harlan’s noir influenced cinematography is amazing to behold as his strong angles, deep shadows and wide shots (That included at times up to 7 or 8 people in one frame) add to the suspense and terror. Now on to the good stuff.
In John Carpenter’s 1978 seminal horror opus “Halloween” there is a quick and frightful scene which includes a television playing a broadcast of an even more seminal sci-fi opus called “The Thing from Another World.” Carpenter even goes as far as showing practically the whole opening sequence of Howard Hawk’s classic black and white film. A film that exudes classic metaphorical themes and stereotypes of the day, The Thing can be absorbed as overtly campy, tongue in cheek sci-fi or very smart, relevant and intellectual fodder.
I pondered whether director Christian Nyby actually directed this film because it felt more like producer Howard Hawks’ opus. I for one will go out on a limb and admit that all the cool thematic elements of paranoia, isolation, the classic “Men of science should not meddle with things they know nothing about” (A-bomb, anyone?) are right out of Hawk’s little handbook for timely, smart and awesome film-making.
I must talk about how I love the machine gun rapidity of the character’s dialogue delivery in this film. I have lost count on how many times I’ve had to re-watch this film because 4 or more actors are delivering their lines and overlapping the dialog. I just love it! James Arness (Gunsmoke, THEM!) plays the Super Smart Carrot from outer space and he scared the crap out of me when I was 10 and still does to this day. He sports clawed knuckles, a frankenstein-type head and is un-believably ferocious and strong. What is so astute about this film is how the suspense and dread is built upon the cast just talking about him and his presence, more than actually showing him in action.
The creepy and suspenseful door opening scene with the Alien’s reveal at the other side is brilliant, prodigious and very iconic. TTFAW is stupendous, classic 1950’s sci-fi for any rainy day or a late night at home under the covers. Director John Carpenter (Halloween, Prince of Darkness, Ghosts of Mars, They Live) would go on to re-make this film staying very true to the original source material from John W. Campbell, and eventually cementing his version as a very highly regarded remake and masterpiece in suspense and paranoia. A film, that to this day, is considered Carpenter’s “Citizen Kane.” Hawks’ “The Thing from Another World” comes Highly recommended!
Enjoy the gallery below!