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The Thing (1951)

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID

A Video Review of The Thing from Another World (1951)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Up until the crazed John Carpenter 1982 remake this sci-fi classic was known as The Thing. It was changed to its original full title to differentiate from its much different modern counterpart. That is to see there’s nothing wrong with the John Carpenter version, it’s just different. Comparing the two would be like comparing Humphrey Bogart’s Desperate Hours with Mickey Rourke’s. It will only make your head explode.

This original Thing based on the award-winning short story “Who Goes There?” by sci-fi writer John W. Campbell Jr. is as I said a classic. Credited as being directed by producer Howard Hawkes’ assistant Christian Nyby it is generally believed to have really been directed by Hawkes. After all in the 1950s no real director would have anything to do with trash like science fiction. The skill of the direction is a dead giveaway.

A military base in the Arctic staffed with a cast that will become stereotype for sci-fi and horror soon enough is plagued by a giant killer carrot that lives on blood. Trust me, it’s much cooler than it sounds. We have the military man, the scientist, the reporter, and the woman, covering all the bases. Kenneth Tobey, Douglas Spencer and Margaret Sheridan are excellent, as is James Arness in an early role as the title monster.

This movie is from a wonderful school of sci-fi horror films, like the original The Haunting and Curse of the Demon where the less you show the better. The thrust of this one isn’t to jump out at you or gross you out it’s the paranoia of who can you trust. The Thing could be anybody, could be anywhere, what happens next? Very Cold War, very cool.

And of course, always remember… “Watch the skies.”

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