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Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks
James Arness, Margaret Burke Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey
Writing Credits:
John W. Campbell Jr., Charles Lederer

How did it get here?

Arctic researchers discover a huge, frozen spaceling inside a crash-landed UFO, then fight for their lives after the murderous being (a pre-Gunsmoke James Arness) emerges from icy captivity. Will other creatures soon follow? The famed final words of this film are both warning and answer: "Keep watching the skies!"

Rated NR

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Monaural

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 8/5/2003

• Theatrical Trailer

Search Titles:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Thing From Another World (1951)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 12, 2003)

How frequently do remakes outdo the original versions of films? Not often, but in the case of 1951ís The Thing From Another World, I believe the more recent take provides the definitive one.

The 1951 World launches at a military base in Alaska. We learn of an unusual research party at the North Pole with an odd discovery. The chief of the base sends a pilot named Captain Pat Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) to check this out, and along with his crew, a newspaperman called Ned Scott (Douglas Spencer) goes along in search of a story. There they meet the lead researcher, Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) and a staff of others that includes a former flame of Hendryís named Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan).

Once Hendry meets Carrington, he finds out more about the mission. Thereís a mysterious crashed object about 50 miles away, and they need to head out there to investigate. When they get to the site, they discover an alien spacecraft, and they blast through the ice to dig up the wreck. Unfortunately, when they do so, they accidentally blow up the ship. However, they do find the frozen remains of an inhabitant from the craft, who they chop out of the ice.

With this chilly dude in tow, they head back to their base to examine him, though some arguments ensue about what course to take. Eventually, he thaws out by accident and starts to lurk around the camp. He creates a menace as the staff tries to learn more about him and stop him before he kills them all.

On the surface, World presented a story similar to John Carpenterís 1982 version. However, the pair seemed very different in many ways, mostly due to tone. Carpenterís take featured a much darker, more claustrophobic atmosphere. World came across as more jovial and light-hearted. I never felt the same sense of threat to the characters or the planet at large. Sure, the movie made mention of the possible impending doom, but in Carpenterís take, you really thought the future of humanity was at stake. I never received that impression from World.

In some ways, it may be unfair to compare the two. While the original and modern versions of The Haunting were very similar in structure and story, the two Things varied considerably. For example, World features a monster whose appearance remains static throughout the movie, whereas the Carpenter edition makes the beast alter its looks to emulate others. That neat twist alone creates a level of tension the original canít equal; the participants in it become very paranoid, but those in World donít get that because they can see the enormous Thing a mile away.

But although I tried not to compare the two, 20 years of experience with the Carpenter tale made it impossible not to do so. I found that flick to be superior in virtually every way, so I had a much tougher time getting interested in The Thing From Another World. Fans will disagree, but I really didnít see much to it that made it stand out from other monster movies. It offered an entertaining tale, but without the claustrophobic tension of the remake, it came across as pretty ordinary to me.

Quibble of the day: If the Thingís a vegetable, why does it have breath?

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

The Thing From Another World appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Given the age of the film, the picture looked pretty decent, but it rarely rose above that level.

Sharpness was somewhat erratic. Most of the movie came across as acceptably accurate and well defined, but more than a few exceptions occurred. A moderate number of shots appeared somewhat soft and indistinct, though those issues never became major. No problems with jaggies occurred, but a little shimmering popped up at times, and a few instances of edge enhancement seemed apparent.

Black levels looked quite good, as they consistently appeared rich and dense. Contrast also seemed solid. Although all the shots of ice and snow could have washed out the image, that didnít happen, and the picture remained appropriately balanced. Low-light shots also came across as accurately dark but not too thick.

Not surprisingly, print concerns caused most of the imageís problems. A fair number of specks, spots and grit popped up throughout the movie. I also noticed occasional examples of blotches, nicks, scratches, small hairs, vertical lines, and a frame skip or two. For example, one big skip occurred at the 5:06 mark. None of the issues made it tough to watch The Thing From Another World, but the transfer didnít live up to the best images from the era.

The monaural soundtrack of The Thing From Another World seemed perfectly adequate for a more than 50-year-old flick. Speech lacked any issues connected to brittleness or edginess. The lines were a bit thin and a little sibilant, but they remained intelligible and concise. Effects failed to demonstrate great range, but they showed reasonable bass response for elements of this vintage. Highs could be a little rough at times, but the track didnít demonstrate significant distortion and it seemed tight and distinct. The music also was somewhat trebly but sounded acceptably vivid and lively. Overall, the audio was pretty solid for a movie from 1951.

Unfortunately, The Thing From Another World comes with almost no supplements. All we find is the filmís theatrical trailer. From what I recall, an old laserdisc release included some extras, but other than the trailer, none of them migrate to the DVD.

Thatís too bad, as some good supplements would make The Thing From Another World a more compelling package. The flick itself was a moderately entertaining monster movie, but it didnít seem like anything particularly special and it compared poorly with the superior 1982 remake. The DVD featured acceptable but unspectacular picture and audio, and it presented almost no extras. Folks with an affection for World will want this disc, as it seems like the filmís best rendering on home video. I didnít think enough of it to make a more general recommendation, however, and would steer those interested in the story toward the John Carpenter take on it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3548 Stars Number of Votes: 31
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