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The Thing (1951) || Vic’s Classics

“The Thing from Another World” set the bar so high that till this day many sci-fi films are striving to leave an impact the way this scary, noirish film did. It is a  fantastic character study about how cooler heads will prevail under the threat of an alien threat.

Not a threat from another country but a threat from the stars. The quick and witty script by Cahrles Lederer stands out as does the eerie score by Dimitri Tiomkin. It is the ensemble cast that makes this sci fi gem work.

Russell Harlan’s noir influenced  cinematography is amazing to behold as his strong angles, deep shadows and wide shots (That included at times up to 7 or 8 people in one frame) add to the suspense and terror. Now on to the good stuff.

In John Carpenter’s 1978 seminal horror opus “Halloween” there is a quick and frightful scene which includes a television playing a broadcast of an even more seminal sci-fi opus called “The Thing from Another World.” Carpenter even goes as far as showing practically the whole opening sequence of Howard Hawk’s classic black and white film. A film that exudes classic metaphorical themes and stereotypes of the day, The Thing can be absorbed as campy, tongue in cheek sci-fi or very smart, relevant and intellectual fodder.

I pondered whether director Christian Nyby actually directed this film because it felt more like producer Howard Hawks’. I for one will go out on a limb and admit that all the cool thematicelements of paranoia, isolation, the classic “ Men of science should not meddle with things they know nothing about” (A-bomb, anyone?) are right out of Hawk’s little handbook for awesome film-making.

I must talk about how I love the machine gun rapidity of the dialog delivery in this film. I have lost count on how many times I’ve had to re-watch this film because 4 or more actors are delivering their lines and overlapping the dialog. I love it! James Arness plays the Smart Carrot from outer space and he scared the crap out of me when I was 10 and still does to this day.

The door opening scene with his reveal at the other side is brilliant and very iconic. Great, classic sci-fi for a rainy day or a late night. John Carpenter would go on to re-make this film staying very true to the original source material. Highly recommended!

10/10 stars!

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