HMM Day 27 – The Thing From Another World

After discovering and extracting a living being from a crashed space craft in the North Pole. A group of military officials must fend off a blood thirsty alien that continuously hunts them! Trapped within the confines of a small research lab, it’s come down to man versus monster.

The Thing From Another World is a 1951 sci-fi/horror film directed by Christian Nyby. It stars Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, and Douglas Spencer. The creature was played by both James Arness, and filling in for stunts was Tom Steele. Tom Steele needs credit because of the dangers of the stunts being the first of their kind. The Thing From Another World is the first picture that depicts a full on fire stunt. Steele was wearing an asbestos suit and underneath the suit was a tank of pure oxygen… which is combustible. So yea, this guy let the directors set fire to him while breathing from an explosive tank of oxygen. Now that takes guts!

The movie performed well in theaters, being the sci-fi/horror film that would lay the way for Silver Age films. Through the years it has still maintained it’s title as one of the best and being the inspiration for many directors such as John Carpenter and Ridley Scott. If you’re a fan of 1979’s Alien then you can clearly see how this film is one of it’s inspirations. Carpenter himself paid homage to the film in 1978 film Halloween. Then in 1982 Carpenter would get the chance to remake the movie under the title The Thing. A film that performed poorly in theaters but would go on to be a cult classic. So anyone that loves those movies better give this movie the respect it deserves!

1951-the-thing-from-anonther-world-013.jpgThe Story

A crew from the United States Air Force is called into action to investigate a crash site near an arctic research base. A Dr. Carrington reveals what he believes to be a crashed unidentified flying object in the North Pole. While investigating the crash site, a massive ship is found deep underneath layers of ice. After accidentally destroying the saucer, the crew discovers a frozen life-form on board and bring it back to the arctic base. There the life-form breaks free from it’s icy prison and reigns havoc upon the base.

The Thing From Another World is by far my most favorite of all the Silver Age horror movies and it will be our last Silver Age horror film on the list this year. I love the feelings of a claustrophobic atmospheres where our characters are surrounded by a deadly climate. It sets a certain tone that reminds me of the Greek myth where Daedalus and Icarus design a labyrinth for King Minos. Within the maze dwells a Minotaur that kills anyone brave enough to walk the tangle of pathways. Later the Minotaur would die by the hand of Theseus, but I love the idea of being stuck in an unknown dark hallway while a blood thirsty monster could be behind every turn. There’s a good sense of terror when you want to turn right but can only turn left. In The Thing From Another World, the crew is made to stay within this small structure. Each section has to be closed off as the monster keeps making it’s way closer and closer. Where are they gonna go? It’s thirty below zero outside and even if they did, it’s thousands of miles of nothing but ice and snow. So it’s either go out to freeze and eventually resort to cannibalism or face this killer? The frozen land keeps them encased where they are. That’s just one thing that makes the movie so awesome. It’s also a classic example of the style and basic conventions of the times.

Strange Location

We have our strange location set in the North Pole. A frozen tundra that very little people have seen. It offers a perfect location because it hasn’t been explored and holds a vast sense of mystery.

download.jpgMonster

The alien is actually like a big living vegetable. Which is kind of an odd take on an alien life. He’s this humanoid hulking brute that drinks blood and is capable of mass destruction.

Hero

The heroic stiff would our Capt. Patrick Hendry. He’s a man that maintains his composure and understands the only good alien is a dead alien. He has a love interest in our cliche local hotness. That one woman in the story that peaks the interest of our hero. Really, she’s just there to give him the courage to do whats right. No way in hell would he a hero for some sausage fest.

Arthur_Carrington_5.jpgGenius

Our super annoying genius would be Dr. Arthur Carrington and boy is he the worst of them all! This is a super genius that offers one of the best middle of the movie science lectures. But unlike other sci-fi horror flicks that have a super genius, this one goes off the deep end. At one point he believes it’s in the interest of science that they all sacrifice themselves to the creature so that scientific research can continue! What a jackass!

A Look Deeper

You know, the more I think about this movie the more I feel sorry for the alien. If you think about the story, you come to understand that this alien really is just defending himself and is probably scared as hell. The thing crash lands on an unknown planet. He’s part vegetable so he probably comes a planet with a lot of sunshine, humidity and lush vegetation. All the female aliens walk around naked with nice vegetable egg plant boobs and all. But now he’s on this terrible planet with snow and ice everywhere. He freezes and is stuck in this giant ice cube, but isn’t dead because he’s part carrot… yea this entire alien being vegetable thing is the part of the cliche scientific dialogue moment in the movie.

So the alien is frozen in this ice. He probably sent out a distress call to his wife and kids. They’re coming to get him but it will take a week or more. He can chill for that time. In the meantime, he can come up with a few ideas as to solving earths frozen problems, and maybe an idea as to solve world hunger. Man whoever lives on this planet is gonna be in luck! He’s all excited when the humans arrive. But they destroy his ship! What the hell! He just paid this thing off last month! Do these humans realize how much trouble it is to get a new flying saucer? It’s ok, it’s all for galactic peace. So the humans dig him out of the ice and bring him back to the base. After the ice starts the melt our alien is tired and needs to stretch. He accidentally hits one of the humans in the head and the ass hole shoots the alien in the arm! So the alien flees in the cold bull shit and he just wants to come back inside! But every time he comes in for some warmth he gets attacked and has to defend himself! Those jack offs even set him on fire! All he did was walk into the room! Our alien is sick and tired of galactic peace. He’s done, seeing what they did with his arm was the last straw! He walks out into a hallway and sees the humans sitting there and as he walks closer to show them pictures of his vegetable wife and kids, they electrocute him and burn him to crispy carrot ash.

Gosh I feel bad for that alien! This isn’t a horror movie. This is a tragic tale of a nice alien bringing galactic peace to a barbaric civilization! Of course I could be wrong… yea it’s not like that at all. But it is an interesting perspective. Either way, I always felt bad for the alien.

I love the scene where he is set on fire. It’s just one of many scenes of the movie that have great tension and that gives us swift terror. It comes down to the last showdown where the alien makes his last appearance and they electrocute him. Dr. Carrington gets his comeuppance and I’ve got to be honest, I was pretty glad to see that. That scene was so epic for me in my childhood. Completely terrifying and the effects are done real well for it’s time. It’s why this movie will always be a favorite of mine and why it’s proudly represented for day twenty seven of Horror Movie Marathon 2018.

 

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