Sunday, October 19, 2008
31 Days of Halloween - Day 19 Movie
"The Thing From Another World" (1951) is quite simply one of the best science fiction movies of the 1950s, and of all time. The plot is very simple, a group of military personel and civilians stationed in the arctic uncover a crashed flying saucer and its occupant frozen in the ice. They bring the frozen alien back to their base where it thaws and proves to be a threat to everyone in the base.
The film that is built around this simple premise is phenomenal. Directed by Christain Nyby (with major input by producer Howard Hawks) and written by Charles Lederer (with uncredited work by Howard Hawks and Ben Nyby) this is a true ensemble piece starring Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, and a large cast of capable actors who turn in terrific performances. The characters are all perfectly developed with implied backstories and complex connected relationships which along with the rapid fire overlapping dialogue (pre-David Mamet) really bring this movie to life and move it along. The interactions between the characters are so interesting and lively that you're mesmerized by their discussing plans and exposition. There is a romantic relationship exhibited in this movie, but it feels real and natural and belongs here without ever bringing the movie to a halt just to fit it in. The Thing (James Arness) has three scenes in the movie but you never feel short changed whatsoever. If you haven't seen this movie, you really owe it to yourself to do so.
On the trivia end of things, so to speak, voice actor Paul Frees (the voice of the ghost host in Disney's Haunted Mansion, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and countless characters on tv shows, movies, and animated cartoons) makes a rare physical appearance as Dr. Vorhees.
"The Thing from Another World" is one of the two movies being shown on television in "Halloween" (1978) (the other is "Forbidden Planet" (1956)). Director John Carpenter would remake "The Thing from Another World" in 1982.