The Thing From Another World

Directed by Howard Hawks (uncredited)
Christian Nyby
Written by Novella:
John W. Campbell, Jr.
Screenplay:
Charles Lederer
Uncredited:
Howard Hawks
Ben Hecht
Starring Margaret Sheridan
Kenneth Tobey
Douglas Spencer
Robert O. Cornthwaite
James R. Young
Dewey Martin
Robert Nichols
William Self
Eduard Franz
Sally Creighton
James Arness
John Dierkes
George Fenneman
Paul Frees
Everett Glass
David McMahon
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Russell Harlan, ASC
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date April 29, 1951
Running time 87 min.
Edited version:
81 min.

Watch the skies

The Thing From Another World is often hailed as the first great sci-fi/horror film but I’m not so sure. I guess that it is the film that kicked off the 1950s sci-fi cycle of films and admit that the sci-fi elements of the film have the potential to be great, but I was very disappointed at the horror element of the film.

For those who don’t know the story, a UFO crashes to Earth near the North Pole and is found by scientists and airforce officials. Whilst the spaceship is destroyed thanks to the ineptitude of the airforce personnel, they do find an alien encased in the ice. They take the alien back to their base still in the ice, but his icy tomb is melted and he is alive. Soon it is discovered that he is plant-based and bullets don’t harm him, and that he needs blood to survive and to reproduce.

The reason why I find the horror elements of the film to be disappointing is that despite the potential for tension, no one in the film seems to be scared of the alien. Sure they say that they are frightened, yet the audience cannot see that. Despite knowing that they cannot kill the monster with bullets and that it eats humans, the airforce people decide to confront it armed only with guns, while in another scene with the alien on the loose one of the airforce people jokes with his girlfriend, who also just happened to be posted to the area. Why should I be afraid of their fate if they aren’t?

I suppose that I feel frustrated that the film has so much potential but didn’t capitalise on it in its entirety. Despite this lack of tension the film is still entertaining if talky and I enjoyed watching it a lot.

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2 responses to “The Thing From Another World

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