The Thing from Another World (1951)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great example of '50s sci-fi

Underdone and unnecessary love story

 
Movie Info

Movie Name: The Thing from Another World

Studio: Winchester Pictures Corporation

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s): April 29, 1951

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

thing-from-another-world-ship

I call dibs!

A research station in the Arctic discovers a crashed spaceship. The spaceship is destroyed, but a creature is found trapped in the ice. When the creature is accidentally thawed out, it escapes. The researchers learn that the creature (James Arness) is plant based and needs the warmth of blood to survive. Now they must stop the thing before it kills them all.

The Thing from Another World is based on John W. Campbell’s novella “Who Goes There” from 1938 and was directed by Howard Hawks (who was uncredited) and Christian Nyby. It is considered a classic of science-fiction and was used as the basis for John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing and the 2011 prequel (to the 1982 version) The Thing.

The movie has a very slow 1951 pacing. It is a good twenty minutes into the film before the thing is found and forty minutes in before the thing escapes the ice. This might be a bit hard for casual sci-fi watchers, but it is pretty typical of movies from that time. This slow build-up leads to a fun cat-and-mouse game between the researchers and the thing. Smartly, the thing’s attacks are fast and furious, and it is only the conclusion where it is clearly seen with any real clarity.

thing-from-another-world-doorway

My vegetable ass is going to kick all your asses!

There are some genuine jumps in The Thing from Another World which is a bit unusual for a movie that is more sci-fi than horror. The first real appearance of the thing involves the creature attacking immediately after the door is opened. It still is a bit surprising because the pacing of the movie is slower than modern movies.

Even with jumps, the movie remains a great example of science-fiction. The creature’s mere existence and reproduction is interesting, but the real plot involves the conflict of science and military. The creature is a great find and is wanted by the military and scientists, but the people just want to survive. The battle between the scientists and the military provides almost more conflict than the creature itself.

thing-from-another-world-electrocution

I know some “thing” that missed the lecture on the dangers of electricity

The Thing from Another World does have a weak love story involved. Captain Pat Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and the secretary Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan) who works for head scientist Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) have this flirty relationship. Nikki herself seems a bit out of place in the story since it seems odd that they would have one woman (especially at the time) working as a secretary as a research base. The 1982 remake gets rid of this weirdness by having an all male crew.

The Thing from Another World is a great movie in a really strong year of sci-fi (When Worlds Collide and The Day the Earth Stood Still also came out in 1951). It became a highly influential film. Surprisingly, the 1982 remake is another good take on the story, the 2011 version had some redeeming moments. The movie ends with the classic warning. “Keep watching the skies.”

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Related Links:

The Thing (1982)

The Thing (2011)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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