Something about Silver Age horror puts me at in a certain euphoric mode. The practical effects that often at times seem so practical that it’s ridiculous. The cliche characters that take part in cliche dialogues. It’s all a package of greatness. It was a notable time for horror. We had sci-fi horror and the Hammer horror. Both were great but the sci-fi prevailed the market. Hammer kept the monsters alive and kicking but the interest in those characters just wasn’t as strong as it was in the 30’s and 40’s.
I’m a firm believer that horror reflects cultural trends of fear. The 50’s was a time of anxiousness and bomb sheltering fear. You could go back in time, meet your father and scare the poop out him through the power of Van Halen and he would believe anything you told him! Because you’re Darth Vader and you have a hair dryer as a ray gun! Does anyone else wonder why Marty McFly had a hair dryer in the DeLorean? Maybe that’s how Doc Brown kept that hair so nice and plush.
So yea, movies reflected this fear and it made some interesting films. It brought us delights like Fiend Without A Face, The Island Earth, Invasion of The Body Snatchers, Them!, The Crawling Eye (also known as The Trollenberg Terror) and last but never least; The Thing From Another World.
The Thing From Another World is a spectacular movie. This scene if my favorite because it’s actually terrifying both as a work of sci-fi/horror and a work of cinematography.
The entire scene is a great work of film. There’s such a good sense of build up to it. As a young kid I remember my heart pounding because any minute he was going to bust through that door and OOOH MAN! THEY LIT IT ON FIRE!! I love how the creature just busts through the door and it’s his silhouette. He’s tall, menacing and reeks of “I want to kill you all.” James Arness claimed to not like the role of the alien, he said he felt like the monster looked like a carrot. Well, even if he didn’t like it; we thank him today because this movie rules!
From what I know, this is the very first body on fire stunt ever done on screen. Although the role of the alien monster was played by James Arness; the stunt double was played by Tom Steele. Steele was wearing an asbestos suit with a helmet. There was an oxygen tank underneath where Steele would breathe pure 100% oxygen! Now, what do we know from Halloween 2? Pure oxygen is combustible so it’s insane that Steele wasn’t blown to bits.