The Thing from Another World (1951)
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I enjoyed Carpenter's version way more
When I was a kid, a formative week for me was that one time some channel ran a daily creature feature in the afternoon. War of the Worlds, some Godzilla picture, the Blob... I was going to watch them all, but had to miss the Friday presentation on account of some family outing. That movie was going to be The Thing From Another World. Here I am 35 years later watching it for the first time. Obviously, I've seen the Carpenter remake AND Doctor Who's The Seeds of Doom a number of times, so it was fun to visit the original (well I guess the original is actually the short story, but you know what I mean), on an archaeological basis, you might say. But of course it works in its own right. The characters were actually the most striking, with real camaraderie on screen between the military men (and the reporter), and bouncy banter between the male and female leads. In most monster films from the 50s, good and bad, the focus is more on plot mechanics and characters come off as types (Them! is a good example of this). Not here, except maybe the head scientist who is an incarnation of the amoral science principle you see in this kind of story. But because it is such a "human" film, it feels alive and energetic. Its weakness is, ironically enough, the monster, which fails spectacularly at the task of being the "other" the scientists speak of. Just a shambling vegetative Frankenstein's Monster. It works when we don't see him, but it disappoints when we do. But we can accept it as a limitation of the time, because the rest works so well.
I like John Carpenter's version better! But this is good too.
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #80 in BFI's 100 Science Fiction Films
This movie ranks #86 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films
This movie ranks #87 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills
This movie ranks #218 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #327 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #890 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #963 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films