Starring: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness
Director: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks
Running Time: 87 mins
The Thing From Another World is an American film about a group of scientists in an isolated Arctic station who find themselves under attack from a man-eating alien monster, with seemingly no way out but to fight for survival.
A classic sci-fi of the 1950s, The Thing From Another World famously inspired John Carpenter’s brutal horror The Thing in 1982. Of course, this original film can’t compare to Carpenter’s adaptation in terms of technological prowess, but is it anywhere near as scary?
In short, no. While there are moments of tension and suspense peppered throughout, The Thing From Another World is unfortunately a ’50s horror that just hasn’t aged well, with a frustratingly slow pace, a disappointingly small scale, and not enough directorial prowess to make use of its lack of technology.
Some of the best films of the era, from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to the much later Night of the Living Dead, use cinematic trickery to avoid any need for a visible monster, with the tension created by that technique serving such an effect that you almost forget that there’s a monster you’re meant to be seeing.
The Thing From Another World, however, isn’t able to capitalise on that technique, and as such it feels severely lacking. Compared with The Thing, which both uses its technology and still relies on the old-school technique of using tension and mind games as a major villain, this original film feels distinctly bland, and certainly not scary at all.
Apart from a couple of moments of peril which come more from the story’s isolated setting and cramped conditions than anything, there’s little powerful jeopardy here, a symptom of the movie’s small-scale production that doesn’t do enough to foster an atmosphere of fear or discomfort.
As a result, The Thing From Another World proves a rather boring watch, and certainly a sci-fi horror that just hasn’t aged well over the decades. Fans of the era will certainly enjoy it for its period sensibilities, but if you’re looking to be thrilled or scared, then this isn’t the film for you. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 5.8 overall.