I had a nice surprise visit from my old friend Yohan the other day. Just popped on by for a catch up before heading off to one of the stars in the constellation of Orion. He’s a lovely guy but total germaphobe. Refuses point blank to take his spacesuit off. Luckily he has a small hole to sip cocktails through a straw but our conversation is awkward, just muffled sounds and consists mainly of smiles and thumbs up. Now I was just about to watch the classic 50’s science fiction film The Thing From Another World and he squeezed in next to me mumbling something along the lines of “those pesky carrot monsters are the bane of the galaxy”.
Right from the get go with the opening title sequence you know you are watching something iconic, the way those jagged edged letters slowly burning through the background to reveal THE THING from another world.
The suspense in this movie is always bubbling up from under the surface. For the time it must of been terrifying. Would love to read some comments from people leaving the cinema on it’s original release.
Tagline – Science Fiction at its Blood Curdling Best
A UFO has crashed landed in the ice at Anchorage, Alaska. Scientists and American Air Force make their way to examine the mysterious craft. Now frozen in the ice they detect a radioactive shape buried with what looks humanoid in shape. Taking it back to base camp the “thing” only goes and wakes up, looking like Kryten from Red Dwarf and Frankenstein’s Monster had a baby, and does a runner. Only to get in a fist fight with a bunch of tough sled dogs who manage to rip off his arm before meeting their maker, Balto.
Retrieving the arm the scientists go to work, only to find out that the alien fiend is vegetable rather than animal matter! It has seeds and you can grow them using blood plasma and a greenhouse.
“It’s some kind of veggie monster, a intelligent super carrot.”
You even get cooking tips.
“What do you do with a vegetable? Boil it, Stew it?”
Now Mr Thingy is one angry dude, smashing down doors, clubbing people with his giant arms and standing around looking menacing. In one scene, which I have to admit to not knowing how on earth they filmed it, the army guys manage to ambush him whilst throwing buckets full of kerosene at him. The whole place erupts in balls of fire with our turnip getting a right roasting. Surely many stuntmen were burnt to death in that scene? It’s a truly shocking set piece and flames are everywhere, a time before the safety of CGI.
Tagline – No One In This World Can Match The Menace Of “The Thing”
Now can our heroes work out how to stop this rampaging alien cabbage man? You’re have to tune in to see but it’s well worth it. I have to admit to preferring the 1982 bloodcurdling morphing craziness of the remake but that’s mainly down to my love of Kurt Russell, but this one does have a very soft spot in my heart. Especially when after all the carnage and horror Nikki still keeps offering everyone coffee and the guys keep ribbing the Captain over his flirting skills.
Fun Fact – The alien is played by James Arness who was an apt monster height of 6ft 7inches. He later went off to play Marshal Matt Dillon in a billion episodes of the western series Gunsmoke
The movie is directed by Christian Nyby but many believe it is actually Howard Hawks calling the shots and may of helped him out with the credit to push on his career. Makes you wonder when you see Nyby didn’t direct anymore films and went purely into directing television shows, which he did hundreds.
Based on a story called “Who Goes There?” by John W Campbell Jr in 1938. You can see from the cover art work that John Carpenter’s 1981 remake using the mutation effects might of been nearer to the book than the 1951 version.
There’s even another random version of the book from 1972 in a film called Horror Express featuring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly “Kojak “Savalas. Where they bring the “Thing” back on a train. It sounds like it’s a very loose adaptation as you can well imagine.
Be good to have a read of it some day. What’s it like have you read it? Let me know….. Wolfie
Here’s the trailer.
Further Reading Links