Unlike ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, of the same year, ‘The Thing from Another World’ doesn’t stand the test of time. It’s not thrilling any more, and its scientific background looks naïve, to say the least. Why, then, is still considered a classic, and rightly so?
The movie, based on the story ‘Who Goes There’ by John W. Campbell, follows a team of scientists and military men (along with one journalist) who find an UFO at a distant arctic research station. They accidentally destroy the starship, but are able to bring a frozen alien back to the base. As expected, bad things start to happen, while a major storm keeps them isolated.
Produced by Howard Hawks (and believed to be directed by him as well, though credited to Christian Nyby), the movie stands out from the rest thanks to a masterful introduction of the events, without the alien showing up until well into the film; and quick, sparkling dialogues, the hallmark of screenwriter Charles Lederer (‘His Girl Friday’, ‘Ocean’s 11′). He adds a sense of humor and humanity to the characters uncommon in the genre.
When the alien comes into scene, though, the movie is quite disappointing. The creature is no longer frightening (as it used to be in the 50s) and the explanations about its nature are unintentionally hilarious. All in all, it’s easy to see how it influenced subsequent movies, most remarkably Alien (1979).
Its 1982 remake, by John Carpenter, is a much more complex film, better than the original in many aspects, but it lacks its novelty and sense of humor.
101 Sci-Fi Movies You Must See Before You Die
Steven Jay Schneider