18 June 2024
The Thing (1951)
87 min.
Directed by Christian Nyby.
With Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, James R. Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, James Arness.
The best sci fi horror film of the 1950s.

At a research base deep in the Arctic, Air Force personnel have been puzzled by an unexplainable phenomena which has made communications signals go haywire.

The military decides to send an investigative team to the site of the disturbance.

Led by Capt. Patrick Hendry (Tobey), the men discover a mammoth spaceship buried below the surface of the ice. But when they attempt to excavate the craft, the vessel explodes.

The only thing that remains is the body of the ship's alien pilot, encased in a perfect block of ice.

Hendry and his team transport their frozen interstellar guest back to the base, and await further orders from the government.

But before they can catch their breath, the creature (Arness) unthaws, and begins a murderous rampage through the outpost!

It seems the visitor from another world is some sort of vegetable organism that requires blood plasma to survive. And this 'thing' not only intends to survive itself, it also means to replicate itself into an army of a million strong.

Scientist Carrington (Cornthwaite) wants to capture the thing in order to study it, but Hendry and his men must stop the threat before it terrorizes the whole planet!

From respected producer & director Howard Hawks (1940's His Girl Friday, et al) comes this ideal model of suspense, pacing and atmosphere.

Hawks' trademark rapid-fire dialogue is in full effect here, perfectly fleshing out the characterizations of Hendry, his men, and especially gal pal Nikki (Sheridan). The snowy setting is claustrophobia personified, and the action sequences are vibrant and electric.

For 1951, there's a surprising amount of gore on display here, including a severed limb, an eviscerated dog, and a gruesome double murder that's very effectively 'recounted' by one of the scientists.

Hands down, The Thing is a masterpiece that's clearly influenced everyone from John Carpenter to Ridley Scott.

Also known as The Thing from Another World.

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