[Join your host, John Holliday, in the review column "A Movie A Week" as he shares his spoiler-free thoughts on our collection of DVD / Blu-ray titles.]
When your parents and movie buff friends talk about how great of a movie "The Thing" is, they're not referring to John Carpenter's 1982 remake or the 2011 prequel to that movie, both with the same name. They're talking about the classic that outrivaled 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' and the color movie 'When Worlds Collide' as well as every other sci-fi movie that same year. They're talking about 1951 and James Arness as The Thing from Another World!
The simplistic plot begins as North Pole based researchers, Polar Expedition Six, receive data to suggest an unknown aircraft has crashed nearby. Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) requests the aid of a U.S. Air Force re-supply team lead by Capt. Hendry (Kenneth Tobey). The team suspects more than a meteor but are shocked to find a flying saucer has melted through the ice and become frozen underneath. Capt. Hendry follows standard procedure in this anything but standard situation which leads to the loss of the spaceship. Fortunately or not, they discover the pilot of the craft still intact and return to base with it encased in a block of ice. It's not long before a careless crew member unwittingly thaws the creature and it begins wreaking havoc on the secluded outpost.
Capt. Hendry is also up against a divided station when the scientists plea to keep the creature alive for the sake of research. It soon becomes apparent that one species has to die. Thanks to Dr. Carrington's experiments and the brutal slaughter of the sled dogs, they learn that the alien monster needs their blood to sustain life. Too bad their backup is hundreds of miles away when The Thing could be behind the next door.
The Thing (played by the 6'7" Gunsmoke star) literally bursts into a handful of scenes and dominates every one of them. Each appearance is as memorable and terrifying as the others. Even during the quiet moments of studying The Thing's biology in the lab or Capt. Hendry's semi-love interest subplot, you can feel the suspense of an imminent attack. I dare you not to jump at least once and then feel like you shouldn't be so invested in a cheesy old sci-fi movie. This is supported by an excellent cast and cinematography that could have easily allowed the movie to disappear into obscurity had it not been for an eye for the material on which this is based (the novella Who Goes There?).
Not nearly as outdated or campy as other science fiction or B-movies of the time with similar plotlines due in part to the fast-paced dialogue that smoothly flows. There is an honest notion of suspense and seclusion that makes this movie work even though it's 60 years old. You have to see this one especially if you've seen it's other incarnations. That's why I give The Thing from Another World!:
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