The Thing From Another World DVD Review
Review by Peter West
DVD released by Warner Home Video
Directed by Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks
Written by John W. Campbell Jr. (story) and Charles Lederer
Margaret Sheridan as 'Nikki' Nicholson
Kenneth Tobey as Capt. Patrick Hendry
Robert Cornthwaite as Dr. Arthur Carrington
Douglas Spencer as Ned 'Scotty' Scott
James R. Young as Lt. Eddie Dykes
Dewey Martin as Bob, Crew Chief
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
Called to the North Pole to investigate a plane crash, the site reveals the sunken outline of a flying saucer! Trying to free the UFO with thermite bombs, the ship is inadvertently destroyed. Next to the ship they find a man/creature frozen in ice. They chop out a block and transport the thing back to base. Accidentally while the ice block is in a storage room, an electric blanket is put over it. Shortly the creature is thawed out and escapes outside into the night. The sled dogs attack the thing, tearing off one of it's hands, and costing the life of two dogs!
They retrieve the severed forearm and exam it. It is discovered that the creature is plant matter, (which explains why bullets have no effect) and it lives on blood. This starts the debate between the soldiers and the scientists. From the military side, Capt. Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey, star of many 50's B monster movies) is arguing for the creature to be killed. From the scientific side, Dr. Arthur Carrington (character actor Robert Cornthwaite, who almost always plays a scientist) wanting the creature to live at any cost, even if it's their own lives.
In the greenhouse the thing (Gunsmoke star James Arness) starts reproducing itself. First with blood of sled dogs, next with a couple of scientists that were stupid enough to listen to Carrington and stay in the greenhouse after they find the dead dog! After an attempt to kill the thing with fire fails, it shuts off the oil to the base. This force the final confrontation between man and alien. Will mankind prevail or will the human race become a blood bank for aliens?
While possibly dated to the youngest of horror fans who have been spoiled by big budgets and high tech special effects, The Thing From Another World is a tense thriller that still retains excitement! A solid and classic soundtrack compliments the moderate pace of action in the movie. Director Howard Hawkes launched this 50's genre, where a creature from outer space is attempting to destroy humanity! So many B-Movies were made on this theme and it still continues to this very day on a smaller scale. All of the "invades," "conquers," "attacks" movies have their roots from this movie!
Fans of the movie Halloween may remember that while Jamie Lee Curtis is baby-sitting the kids, on the television in the background, setting the scene for "The bogeyman is outside" is The Thing From Another World. John Carpenter was such a fan of this film he made his own version of The Thing. This has sparked countless debates between horror fans as to which is better! I'm sure if you watch both, you'll get involved in the debate at some time or another! The Thing From Another World is a classic that belongs in the collection of anybody who even attempts to call themselves as "a horror movie fan."
Don't expect me to get into a diatribe about which film is better: The original or the remake? I'll leave that to the rest of you! The Thing From Another World is a film that set the standard for all of the B-movies of the 50's to follow. An indestructible creature from another world feeding on human blood, coming to use humanity as it's food supply. The military versus the scientific community. Woman's liberation, yes actress Margaret Sheridan (Nikki) is recounted as drinking Captain Hendry under the table in a previous encounter. Also it is one of the first to include bondage! Captain Hendry is tied up in a chair, hands behind his back as Nikki proceeds to kiss him while he is helpless!
The big debate is the scientific one. Were their lives worth risking by letting this visitor from another world live? There are two sides, however... Just about everybody, with the exception of the scientists, smoked in this movie. I guess this means the scientists were smarter! Maybe we would be better off as a human blood bank for plant people! On a serious note, this is one tremendous DVD. With a street price of around $15 I highly recommend you purchase this DVD! Watch it on a cold Saturday night and when the weather's clear... Look to the skies!
Video and Audio:
The restoration of this film is absolutely incredible! Many Saturday afternoons were spent watching The Thing From Another World on Creature Feature being subjected to a dark, dull, bland version of this film. Until you see this DVD, you really have not seen the movie! Warner received many high marks for quality restoring Citizen Kane, and this ranks up there with it. The six additional minutes of footage added back in are indistinguishable from the rest of the film.
The Thing From Another World is presented in a Dolby digital mono soundtrack. It's sharp, clear, and free of pops and hisses. It retains the same creepy feeling it had fifty years ago! Warner has done a great job with it. I appreciate when a studio retains the original mono soundtrack.
The only extra is a beat-up old trailer that looks like it's in the same condition as the prints I've viewed for 40+ years before this DVD! It did make for a wonderful example that I show with the last two screenshots of this review.