Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cold day in hell: THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD(1951)

I'm not a wine drinker but I do know that wine generally gets better with age. I think the same thing could be said about a lot of old(er) films. In the genre of science fiction films few movies have in my opinion "aged" better than THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD(1951), directed by Christian Nyby and an uncredited Howard Hawks.

In the film an antarctic research team of scientists, after briefly tracking a descending object in the Earth's atmosphere, venture out into the harsh, wintry antarctic tundra where they discover a large object buried under the ice. The scientists, along with a group of military personnel, use thermite to melt the ice covering what they now suspect is a saucer shaped alien spaceship. The spaceship is damaged in the thermite explosion but not its alien occupant, also discovered buried in ice.

The team of scientists and military dig out the frozen alien and bring it back to their research facility. Of course the alien thaws out and escapes into the night outside the research station. From this point on a deadly game of "cat and mouse" ensues between the research station group and the hostile, malevolent alien. The scientists discover that the alien, while humanoid, also exhibits distinct plant like characteristics as well. The conclusion of this movie features one final showdown between the scientists/military officers and the alien creature. (no other spoilers)

Actor James Arness, who would later play legendary lawman Marshal Matt Dillon in the CBS TV series "Gunsmoke", plays the green skinned, humanoid, hulking alien creature. It's a non speaking role for Mr. Arness but he's terrific as the hostile alien. An audio effect is added, giving the alien antagonist a weird and creepy sounding roar. There are numerous shocks and violence between the human cast and their non-human adversary to keep anyone watching very interested. I've always liked veteran '50's sci-fi actor Kenneth Tobey best in this movie as the ranking military officer who must contend with not only the alien creature but also scientists who would rather study the alien than protect themselves from it.

THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD(1951) makes the occasional(though not frequent) appearance on Turner Classic Movies. Sci-fi movie fans who haven't seen this film should absolutely check out this classic! Better yet buy the DVD which is sold online at Amazon.

A trailer: