Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep watching the skies!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.] Of all the horror titles up for grabs this month, Howard Hawks’ production of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD is probably the biggest gaping hole in my film education. I have seen clips of this movie going far back into my childhood, but never the whole thing from beginning to end. Until today.

Let me start by saying I’m a die-hard fan of John Carpenter’s THE THING, his remake of this film. Who isn’t, right? But that’s one of the holy grail movies for me, something I’ve seen many dozens of times, quote in my daily life and hold up as one of the best examples of horror cinema ever made. With that high opinion of the remake I don’t think it was ever possible for me to have a fair and balanced view of the original. No matter how much I try to stand back and view it as its own thing (ha!), I can’t help but draw comparisons to the Carpenter film. The remake is too ingrained in me. In that respect, I greatly prefer the Carpenter version. I love the paranoia, the lack of a love interest, the creatures and overall dark-ass despair that lays over the movie. However, I’m not an idiot. I can appreciate the original, but I have to put it in the context of its release, what it was like when it original hit. Even though I’ve covered many films of this era (‘40s and ‘50s) during my AMAD run and have seen many more on my own time, I don’t claim to be an expert on this era of filmmaking by any means, but I can recognize how this film was different from the other films of the era.

For one, Hawks and director Christian Nyby make a big effort to ensure the banter between the cast is realistic. There’s overlapping dialogue and real sense of panic once the alien gets loose. It feels real, like what would happen… just in the body language and line delivery. The cast assembled is perfect for their roles, especially Kenneth Tobey as Capt. Patrick Hendry. He’s incredibly likable, but strong. In other words you buy him as a leader immediately. Also great is Douglas Spencer as Scotty, a newspaper reporter along for the discovery. That’s one of the main differences between this film and Carpenter’s remake. Carpenter focused on paranoia and isolation whereas the main thrust of this movie is a group of soldiers and scientists having to band together to survive an alien horror. Instead of doubting the identity of your fellow humans, the main struggle is between the scientists who want to study The Thing and the army dudes who want to kill it. Hey, I’m pro thinking before killing, but not when you’re in a horror movie, trapped in an arctic base with a plant-monster-alien.

That’s another big difference. The monster is only one and it’s humanoid, basically a tall dude (James Arness) with a big prosthetic head and claw-like hands. He doesn’t infect his victims and none of the movie is about mimicry. Instead they make this monster damn near impossible to kill. So, the creep-factor, for me, was lesser than the remake, with one big exception. They make a big deal in this movie about how similar this being’s genetic structure is to a plant, even going so far as to have the scientists find a seed pod in its dismembered hand. There’s a scene where the scientists, unbeknownst to the army dudes, take the seed, plant it in soil and then irrigate the soil with the blood reserves on the base, causing a little garden of plant pods. When this is discovered, the scientists offer a stethoscope to one of the group to listen at one of the pulsating pods. He listens and says it sounds like the screaming a hungry newborn.

Now, we never hear that. I think if we had heard it, it would have been a goosebump moment because the scene as it is is really goddamn off-putting. One sequence that blew my mind in this movie was the big fire scene. The army guys quickly realize bullets don’t do much against this thing and they decide to douse it with kerosene. I’m sure this scene influenced James Cameron for ALIENS as these guys are barricaded in a room and they know it’s approaching by the beeping of a Geiger Counter, growing more and more rapid as The Thing gets closer. When he shows up… well, first, The Thing strikes a great horror pose, silhouetted in the doorway, then dashes in, getting instantly covered in kerosene and set on fire… then the crazy bastards throw MORE kerosene on the stunt man that almost causes a fireball effect.

Keep in mind, these fearless bastards are doing this stunt in a small room with the majority of the cast in there. It looks dangerous and probably was. That particular scene makes this movie stand-out by itself, especially by today’s standards where everything is regulated and overseen by different groups. You’d never get a fire stunt done in cramped close quarters with the main cast within inches of the flames… and THROWING MORE GAS ON THE FIRE! Crazy bastards… Final Thoughts: Overall, it is an impressive film and one I greatly enjoyed watching, but I have to side with Carpenter’s version. I think it was better filmmaking, to be perfectly frank. This one is a product of its time and as a result we have a standard girl to be romantic with Kenneth Tobey and a cast that never really conveys the actual horror of the situation. After this thing attacks, we’ll get a scene of the guys joking around with each other… while the thing is still on the loose… like they’re in a war comedy or something. You don’t see the horror on their faces outside of the scenes with the actual monster. But the iconography is there. It’s just not as impressive to me as John Carpenter’s film. You might be able to argue that’s unfair, to compare the two, but that’s the only way I can review this movie with any honesty because I couldn’t help but compare the two as I watched.

Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October: Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here! Now’s the the time to pull the next HMAD! Next up is:

From ‘50s black and white horror to ‘60s Technicolor. From John W. Campbell Jr. to Edgar Allen Poe. Interesting jump! See you folks tomorrow with that one! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus