Halloween Horror Movie #5: The Thing from Another World

Saturday night a friend, who gets into the season as I do, after our early evening games and funs, watched The Thing from Another World (1951) TTFAW and often referred to as simply The Thing, though that can lead to confusion with John Carpenter’s excellent remake 1982’s The Thing.

TTFAWE is a true classic of the SF/Horror genre. An Air force supply plane is sent to a remote artic base that has made an incredible discovery, a crashed flying saucer. An attempt to salvage the spacecraft goes awry but the team is able to recover an alien corpse for study. Naturally the course turns out to be seriously less dead than expected. Complicating matters a sudden and severe artic storm not only cuts all radio communication but also with the artic temperatures even lower, traps the team inside the base’s shelters. What follows is a game of hunted and hunter with both side trading off in those roles. Armed with a Geiger counter the human have limited ability to track or sense the alien threat. The atmospheric and plot similarities to Alien (1979) are unmistakable but that is not to say that Alien is a mere copy, rather this is the idea expressed decades apart by very different filmmakers and very different cultural contexts. To the best of my knowledge this movie also sports the first full-body burn stunt. That had to make audience jumped back in 1951.

In 1982 when John Carpenter released his remake the world had changed so much that the heroic vision of both scientists and military men had degraded so far that the new story became drenched in cynicism. Again that is not in itself a bad thing; it reelects the mood of the culture that birthed the remake. I own copies of both movies and enjoy both. It is fascinating to watch them as distorted mirrors of the times and the people.

TTFAW is a movie I simply do not watch enough and this weekend’s rematch brought back all my happy feels for such a well-crafted film.

 

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