The Thing from Another World was a film that I was unaware of until I did the review for The Thing from 2011. A friend of mine pointed out that John Carpenters The Thing was not the original film, as I mistakenly called it. That this was and she was technically correct, which as we all know is the best kind of correct. So after I got my hands on a copy I squirreled away for the month of November, when I make it a point to review exclusively older horror films. Older being pre-sixties. I was expecting a lot from this film, as I’m a fan of John Carpenters remake and remakes are almost always inferior to the source material. Sadly The Thing from Another World didn’t live up to my exceptions. Not that I can blame it as it had some lofty standards to live up to, that’s not to say that this film is bad. Because it’s actually kind of good and was very much worth watching. If for no other reason than to see it than to see the film that inspired one of my favorite horror films of all time.
The Thing from Another World follows a US Air Force crew who is sent from Anchorage, Alaska led by Captain Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) to the North Pole. When the crew arrives, they’re tasked to help Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) and Dr. Redding (George Fenneman), with tracking down a crashed UFO. Using Geiger Counters the crew is able to find the ship buried under the now refrozen ice, with only a small portion of the Space Ship is sticking out. They try to expose the ship using thermite bombs, but only succeed in accidentally blowing up the ship. Fortunately, not all is lost, as the crew discovers one of the ship occupants frozen in the ice. Not wanting to damage anything else, they chop The Thing out and shipped back to base inside a block of ice. The men take shifts guarding the alien remains until one of them, Corporal Barnes (William Self) throws an electric blanket over the ice to avoid looking at it. A few hours later, Corporal Barnes hasn’t been paying attention, allowing the blanket to melt the ice and free the alien. Who of course attacks him. Barns shoots The Thing, but doesn’t harm it so he flees. Barnes tells the others of what happened, when they go they find The Thing has escaped. They look outside and witness The Thing fighting their sled dogs. When they arrive outside, The Thing has once again escaped, killing four of the dogs. But losing an arm in the process. Upon examination of the arm the scientists make the discovery that The Thing is a highly evolved plant and that there are seed pods in the palm of the hand. The arm comes back to life as it absorbs the sled dog blood its covered in. Carrington reveals that The Thing needs blood in order to survive and reproduce. This leads everyone with the exception of Dr. Carrington to believe The Thing is a threat and needs to be destroyed, where Carrington believes that it can be reasoned with. The situation worsens when The Thing returns, killing some of the crewmen and they make a grisly discovery in the greenhouse forcing the crewmen and The Thing into a final confrontation…
My only real complaint is I did not enjoy the films pacing. It takes a long time to get going, only to end on a bit of a whimper. The first two-thirds of this film really dragged for me as it lacked much suspense and atmosphere that I really enjoyed from John Carpenters version. Even after The Thing wakes up it still doesn’t feel like much happens for a while. It isn’t until they find the dog’s body in the greenhouse that the film really starts to pick up.
That said, the rest of the film is pretty good. Some of the performances felt a little off to me, but that’s an issue I run into a lot with older films. So I’m not going to hold that against it. But this film does have some very good performances, I particularity liked Margaret Sheridan and Kenneth Tobey. The banter between them is the best writing in the movie and for me was the most enjoyable part.
The Thing is… ok. Passable for a movie monster at the time, but doesn’t really hold up today. James Arness does a good job as the titular Thing. What really drags The Thing down is his design, as he never feels all that threatening. But again, I have to make allowances for the time in which it was made and therefor gets a pass.
Final thoughts, its OK. Not great, not bad, worth seeing at least once. But, for me at least it will stop there. The Thing is objectively a good horror and sci-fi film. If I had walked in without any expectations I’m sure I would have enjoyed this film much fuller. But I didn’t and while I don’t hate this movie. I sure don’t love it either. 5/10