The Thing from Another World Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Warner Archive Collection
Directed by Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks (uncredited)
Written by Charles Lederer (screenplay) and John W. Campbell Jr. (story; Who Goes There?)
1951, 86 minutes, Not Rated
Margaret Sheridan as Nikki Nicholson
Kenneth Tobey as Capt. Patrick Hendry
Robert Cornthwaite as Dr. Arthur Carrington
Douglas Spencer as Ned Scott
James Young as Lt. Eddie Dykes
Dewey Martin as Crew Chief Bob
Robert Nichols as Lt. Ken Erickson
William Self as Cpl. Barnes
Eduard Franz as Dr. Stern
Sally Creighton as Mrs. Chapman
James Arness as 'The Thing'
When a group of researchers in the Arctic discover a crashed UFO in the ice, they do what any good red-blooded American does in their situation: they use explosives to blow it out of its frozen-water prison. They then find an alien in a block of ice, which they take back to the lab to thaw (naturally). Unfortunately, the thing they release isn’t at all like E.T. Now it’s on the loose and they are in such a remote area, they have to fend it off on their own.
Sound somewhat familiar? It should, as John Carpenter’s The Thing has a similar theme. No surprise, as both that classic and The Thing from Another World are based on John W. Campbell Jr.’s story, Who Goes There (which I shamefully have never read, but will soon once I get my rewards from this Kickstarter). But I digress. You no doubt know about The Thing, much less have seen it (possibly multiple times like most horror fans). You probably even know, or at least have heard, of The Thing from Another World, but have you seen it? I know I hadn’t until recently. I was aware of it, sure, but for some reason I never was motivated to watch it. However, I figured it was time enough at last once Warner released the Blu-ray as part of its Archive Collection. And I most definitely dig it.
Let me get this out of the way quick. I’m not going to compare The Thing from Another World with Carpenter’s masterpiece because there is no comparison. While they are both based on the same story, they are vastly different films from vastly different time periods, and it’s not fair to the 1951 classic to put it up against arguably one of the best horror films of all time. So there’s that.
The first thing I noticed about The Thing from Another World is how it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Here you have a group of researchers (complete with an arrogant jackass of a scientist), military personnel, and a newspaper reporter in the midst of trying to survive something literally not of this planet, and throughout it all, they continually rib each other. Oddly, it works.
Director Christian Nyby (or Howard Hawks, depending on what you read) wisely keeps the big bad away from the screen for the majority of the film, instead focusing on the reactions and interactions of the protagonists as they try to figure out what this thing is and how to kill it. One of the major subplots centers on our hero, Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and his constant bickering with the dick of a scientist, Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), who is trying everything in his power to keep harm from coming to the alien. The same creature that’s running amok, trying to kill them all. Don’t worry, though; Dr. Carrington does get his comeuppance in a glorious way.
The acting is solid across the board in the way a movie from this time period can be. There’s this constant rapid-fire delivery of dialog that I can’t duplicate in print, but you’ll be familiar with it as soon as you watch the movie and have experienced watching these types of films from that time. While this snappy dialog does date the movie, it also wouldn’t be the same without it and is part of the film’s charm. I should also mention Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan), Carrington’s (possible) romantic interest. She’s a fun character who gives about as much as she takes; so much so, I enjoyed each moment she was on screen.
One other thing I should definitely mention is one effect that, man, didn’t look like it was intentional. In one scene, our heroes have a plan to stop the giant alien: kill it with fire. They douse the joint in kerosene and when the monster takes their bait, they light it up. Let me tell you something, that small room went up fast and I was literally on the edge of my seat watching these guys run around in what looked like real panic. I would love to know if the way that scene went down was intentional or not.
The Thing from Another World is a lot of fun. It lacks the sheer terror and suspense The Thing eventually came along and delivered on, but this is one that definitely worth your time. Carpenter apparently held it enough regard to put in the original Halloween as an Easter egg (Tommy and his little friend are watching it on Halloween night). If it’s good enough for him, it’s sure as hell good enough for me.
Video and Audio:
Presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio, The Thing from Another World arrives on Blu-ray with a solid picture. It’s in black and white, so I’m not going to tell you how much the colors pop, but I will say this sucker is a nice upgrade from my old DVD. (Yeah, I’ve had this for years and have never watched it. Don’t judge me.)
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack is great. There’s are a few scenes where the characters are going at it full force and talk over one another, and each word is heard crisp and clear.
Unfortunately, the only offered features are a few trailers.
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