Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Thing From Another World

Typically, I'm not a science fiction fan. Though, of course I can certainly be persuaded when the film is really good and enjoyable (or really campy, crappy, and stupid, I like both so I guess it makes no difference). The Thing From Another World is much more a suspenseful film with incredible atmosphere, unlike it's remake which concentrated mostly on special effects. The beginning of both movies start out the same... an arctic research station discovers a strange object buried in the ice. Upon inspection, it appears to be a flying saucer. They use explosives to try and uncover the ice to see exactly what they're dealing with here, and in doing so, they accidentally blow the whole space ship up. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on one's optimism at this point), a "space man" is seen frozen in the ice as well. The spaceship may have been blown to bits, but the space man seems unharmed. They unearth it and bring it back to their camp in a frozen block of ice for study. Some putz who is supposed to be watching over the damn thing, puts a blanket over it so he doesn't have to look at its creepy eyes. What the idiot doesn't realize is that it's an electric blanket that is turned on and it melts the space man to freedom in about 20 minutes. This is where the original and the remake split as far as story wise. The original is funny and somewhat tongue in cheek (while retaining it's sullen and effective atmosphere) and the remake becomes the story of a shape shifting alien that could easily destroy the world if it ever reaches civilization, directed by the ingenious John Carpenter. I do believe that the remake is considered #174 in the top #250 best movies ever made (source: IMDB.COM). Though it may not be the thriller that it's remake became, the original has that special something that makes it an instant classic. It's a creepy cold atmosphere placed near the North Pole with some really strange happening goin' on. After Mr Moron melted to creature and it escapes into the blizzard outside which doesn't seem to effect it much, a search engages. While tearing apart the sled dogs, "The Thing" loses an arm (that grows back) which is taken back to the laboratory. Upon scientific inspection, it is deduced that the arm is comprised of plant tissue. The scientists among the group explain that on another world, plant life may have evolved the same way that mammals evolved here on Earth. It feeds on blood, in fact blood from the dogs on the severed hand bring it back to life. Much like a plant, severed pieces that break off of "the Thing" begin their own growth. One of the weirdo scientist is actually growing some baby Things which creepily appear to be breathing. The group starts to remember their botany rules and realize that ice cold does not always kill a plant which is why the Thing creeps around outside. But, extensive heat will wilt a plant beyond saving (I know this to be true because I've killed many many many houseplants, after a while you just start blaming it on botanical suicide, the plant won't know you're lying). They electrocute the sucker, set him ablaze and destroy him. Not many fatalities and I can definitely say that the remake is totally superior. But hey, in 1951 they didn't have the razzle dazzle of great computer and make up effects that we have now. Granted, the villain in this movie is an intelligent carrot, I can't say that could be accomplished even with today's special effects. Watch the remake if you want a really suspenseful alien flick with a very oppressive atmosphere, but if you just want a comical story being taken totally serious with hilarious puns sprinkled here and there... watch this gem of an original, well thought out, cult flick...a true classic!

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