Thursday, June 23, 2011


This week…

Monster-of-the-Week: …a classic: In honor of the recent departure of James Arness, let’s recognize one of the big SOB’s earliest movie roles, the title character in the 1951 favorite The Thing From Another World.

TTFAW is a blood-drinking humanoid vegetable from outer space who lays siege to a U.S. military/scientific outpost in the arctic. Being played by James Arness & all, he’s alarmingly big & Frankenstein-ish...

...& because the film, produced by Howard Hawks, barely gives you a glimpse of him, except in silhouette, he’s pretty creepy.

A 1983 remake by John Carpenter, titled simply The Thing, sticks much closer to the source material, John W. Campbell’s novella Who Goes There? It’s also pretty good—Rob Bottin’s shape-shifting special effects are hair-raising—but its tone is unpleasantly cynical compared to the original.


  1. I was born in 74 and JC's version of THE THING was a seminal movie for me. Kurt Russel's beard is epic! Rob Bottin's work is amazing. Those effects still hold up today. For me, it's the high water mark for practical effects work in movies. The behind the scenes movie on the special edition DVD is a good watch.

    Did you know they are remaking this? It's supposed to come out this year.

    Did you catch SUPER 8 yet?

  2. HH's The Thing From Another World is the best monster pic ever, period! A Perfectly plotted and paced film often copied (See Alien). JC's remake was disappointing to me. John Campbell's short story was all psychological drama (very cold war...who can you trust?) but Carpenter's film was just shock and splatter. jw

  3. One more thing regarding Hawks...the man was a master of dialog. The lines may seem a little cliche and hackneyed now, but if you really listen to the timing; the overlaps; the shifting rhythms and tempos...its freaking genius! It's like a Mamet play.jw

  4. While I wouldn't dismiss Carpenter's The Thing completely--I think that the effects are more than just splatter, that they actually have a certain surreal poetry to them, & a tactility & gravity that most CGI can't claim--I certainly agree that TTFAW is superior. & the Hawksian overlapping dialogue is indeed a big part of it, along with the fascinating take on efficient human organization--the Commander played by Kenneth Tobey is pointedly NOT the smartest or most imaginative or most capable man in the group, yet somehow he's the one that all the smart, imaginative, capable people trust to give the orders. Interesting to note, though, that Hawks was not the credited director of that film, his longtime editor Christian Nyby was. It's often been speculated that Hawks really helmed some or all of the film, & was just helping Nyby get his card. Nyby went on to direct many episodes of "Perry Mason" & "Twilight Zone" & "Adam 12."