horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 14th, 2019 Movie – The Thing From Another World

the thing from another world

1982’s The Thing is one of my all time favorite sci-fi/horror movies, ranking right up there with the original Alien for the best such movie ever. However, as much as I loved the movie, it would be years before I learned that it was not the first such movie and was actually a remake…to a degree. After learning about this, I always wanted to watch the original movie but the only time I had a real chance, I only caught about 5 minutes of it. Still, I had always heard that the movie was an incredibly well made movie so I finally found a way to watch it today. So let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, The Thing From Another World.

The plot: Journalist Ned Scott arrives at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska and heads to the officer’s club, where he meets up with his friend; Lt. Eddie Dykes. Eddie introduces Scott to Capt. Pat Hendry and Ken “Mac” MacPherson andwhen Scott tell them he is there to try and find a story, Eddie tells him he should try writing about a research station up in the arctic, Polar Expedition Six, that is led by Dr. Arthur Carrington. Pat is summoned to see the base commander, General Fogarty, who tells him that Carrington had radioed about a strange aircraft that had crashed close to their base. Fogarty orders Pat to take a dog team up there to investigate the crash and allows Pat to take Scott with them. When the group arrives at the station, Scott is introduced to some of the scientist and crew while Pat goes to see Nikki Nicholson, Carrington’s secretary and whom he had a romantic interest in. After the two talk about what happened the last time they were together, and Pat asking her for a chance to start over, Nikki takes him to see Carrington. Carrington explains the situation to Pat and they soon leave to locate the crash site, eventually finding it almost 50 miles from the station. After landing, they find the ship has crashed down and been buried under some ice and after some initial observations, they realize that they found an alien flying saucer. As they work to clear the ice away from the ship so they can look inside, Pat and Scott argue over whether Scott would be allowed to publish anything he sees there. As the team attempts to free the ship from the ice, they inadvertently end up destroying it with their thermite explosive but discover that an alien being had attempted to leave the ship after the crash and had ended up being frozen in ice as well. The team manage to cut out the ice containing the creature and fly it back to the research station just as a storm moves in on them. Pat assumes command of the station and refuses to let Carrington and the other scientists study the creature until he gets further orders from Fogarty. Pat orders a watch set up on the creature but during the night, Barnes, the man on duty, covers the ice with an electric blanket so he doesn’t have to look at the creature, unaware that the blanket is plugged in and begins melting the ice. When the creature is freed, It attempts to attack Barnes but he manages to get away and alerts Pat and the others. When they head back to the room, they find the creature has escaped, killing two dogs in the process but losing an arm as well. Carrington and the scientists begin studying the arm and determine that the creature is some sort of alien plant life. Pat leads a search to find the creature and they find evidence that was in the station’s greenhouse but find no sign of it. As Pat and the soldiers move on, Carrington and three scientists, Vorhees, Stern, and Laurence, stay behind and find more evidence that the creature was there when they discover another dead dog with all of it’s blood drained. As Pat and the soldiers return to the station, a wounded Stern arrives and tells him that the creature had returned to the greenhouse and killed Vorhees and Laurence. Pat leads the men to try and kill the creature but instead are forced to barricade the creature inside the greenhouse. Pat then chastises Carrington for not reporting what he had discovered and allowing the two scientists to die, then orders him confined to his lab, quarters, and the mess hall. In the lab, Carrington tells Nikki and the other scientists that he had planted the seed pods they discovered in the arm and fed them some plasma from their supplies, causing them to rapidly grow. Later, Pat goes to see to find out what happened to the plasma that was supplied to the base, as he wanted to use it to help treat Stern, and Nikki lets him see Carrington’s notes that she took. Pat goes to confront Carrington about his actions and as they argue, they receive a communication from Fogarty, telling Pat to keep the creature alive and contained until he arrived. Some time later, as Pat and the other soldiers discuss what they can do to defend themselves against the creature should it try to attack them, they notice the Geiger counter lighting up and realize the creature is on the move. When it breaks into the room, they use kerosene and a flare to set it on fire and the creature runs back out into the snow while they take cover in the mess hall. After regrouping with everyone in the station, Pat decides to try and secure their position when Nikki notices that she can see their breath, indicating that the heat is off in the station. Realizing that the creature had sabotaged the furnaces in an effort to subdue them, Pat orders everyone to the generator room, which is the only place they can still get some heat, while also arranging to make a trap in the corridor leading to it to try and kill the creature. As they work on setting their trap, Carrington argues with Pat about his plan to kill the creature and when the creature finally appears, Carrington turns off the generator. Carrington is subdued and Pat orders the generator turned back on and Carrington rushes past Pat and the others and attempts to plead with the creature. The creature back hands Carrington and continues advancing on the others and Pat throws the switch and manages to electrocute the creature, reducing it to ashes. Later, as they work on regaining contact with Anchorage, Nikki begins giving Pat a hard time about settling down. When they make radio contact, Scott gets on the radio and tells the reporters in Anchorage a brief summary of what happened, warning them to “Keep watching the skies.”

The Thing From Another World was well received by the critics when it was released and currently holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “As flying saucer movies go, The Thing From Another World is better than most, thanks to well-drawn characters and concise, tense plotting.” There is debate as to who was actually the director of the film; Christian Nyby or Howard Hawks, with several actors have stated their own opinions and reasons as to who was the actual director. During an interview, Nyby said that he was the director, though did admit that he did consult Hawks often on how to do particular scenes. The movie would end up making $1.95 million at the domestic box office, making it the highest grossing science fiction film of 1951 and is considered one of the greatest films of the genre to come from the 50’s.

I can see what all the fuss is about this movie because it really was a great movie to watch. The acting was pretty good, with Kenneth Tobey (Pat), Margaret Sheridan (Nikki), and Robert Cornthwaite (Carrington) all doing good jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good and I can see the similarities between this movie and John Carpenter’s interpretation. The only thing I feel worked against it is that they had too many characters, which didn’t allow them to do as good of a job developing them than they could have if there were less people. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects outside of the creature design, which was good from a story telling aspect because it led to them relying more on tension to carry the movie, which was done exceedingly well. Definitely a movie that is worth watching if you ever get the opportunity.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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adventure, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

Flashback Review: April 14th, 2014 Movie – The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms

the beast from 20000 fathoms

One good thing about me going back and writing about these pre-blog movies is that I find myself re-watching some great movies. Take the movie I am watching today for example. I am always up for watching a Ray Harryhausen or Willis O’Brien movie so starting the day with one of those movies is a great way to start the day. I remember first seeing this movie years ago one Saturday during some channel’s monster movie marathon and thought it was great. I would then see clips of this movie show up in other movies or TV shows over the years and I would eventually buy this movie on DVD as part of a double feature set with Them!. So let’s have some fun with The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.

The plot: In the northern portions of the Arctic Circle, an atomic bomb test dubbed “Operation Experiment” takes place, and after the bomb goes off, a strange object is briefly detected on radar but it disappears off the screen before they can figure out what it was. Some time later, Professor Tom Nesbitt and George Ritchie head out to check one of the sensors, trying to make it quick as the radiation is still fairly high. After checking the first sensor, they split up to check out the other two in the area and George encounters a giant Rhedosaurus and as he reacts in shock, he falls down a crevice and injures his leg. George fires a shot from his pistol to signal for help and when Tom shows up to help him, he warns him about the creature. Tom, thinking he is delirious from pain, climbs back out to signal their drivers to help him rescue George when he spots the Rhedosaurus just before it knocks down part of the ice cliff, burying George and stunning Tom. Tom is able to fire a flare to signal for help and the drivers find him and take him back to base, where he is flown back to the states for treatment. As he is recovering, Tom tries to convince people he saw something but a psychiatrist thinks it is just survivors guilt over George’s death. When Colonel Jack Evans shows up, Tom asks him if he saw any proof of the creature but Jack tells him they searched the area but found no sign of anything. Meanwhile, off the coast of Nova Scotia, a fishing boat encounters the Rhedosaurus, which attacks and sinks the boat. The next day, Tom sees the story in the newspaper, where the sole survivor says that the boat was sunk by a sea serpent. Tom goes to the museum to see Prof. Thurgood Elson and try to convince him to search for the creature but Elson feels there isn’t enough proof that the creature exists. His assistant, Lee Hunter, offers her opinion, saying that Tom could be correct in his theory that the creature had been frozen in the ice and the atomic test somehow revived it, but Elson rejects the notion and tells Tom he can’t help him. As more reports of sea serpents make the news, Tom is checked out of the hospital and returns to work, only for Lee to show up and talk to him about the creature he saw. Lee convinces him to look at sketches of various prehistoric creatures and after going through several of them, finds a picture that closely resembles the creature he saw. Lee says that if they can get the captain of the fishing boat, Captain LeMay, to confirm he saw the same creature, then they can prove that it does exist. Tom calls LeMay, who refuses to talk about the creature, and when Tom heads up to Canada to find him, he learns that LeMay had gone on holiday for the month. Hearing that a second person, Jacob Bowman, had claimed to see the creature, Tom goes to see him and convinces Jacob to come back to New York to identify the monster he saw. When they get to the museum, Jacob goes through the sketches and points out the same sketch that Tom had, Elson finally believes Tom’s story. Tom contacts Evans to get him to help them locate the creature and he says that he can’t without more proof but promises to have a friend from the Coast Guard contact them if anything new is reported. That night, a lighthouse off the coast of Maine is destroyed by the Rhedosaurus. When Tom Lee get word of it, they meet with Elson, Jack, and his friend in the Navy, who tells him that aside from the lighthouse’s destruction, some wreckage was washed ashore off the coast of Massachusetts. Elson theorizes that the Rhedosaurus is following the Arctic current towards New York, where the only known fossils of the creature had been discovered and he decides to go down in a diving bell to see if he can locate the Rhedosaurus. As he is lowered down, Elson and the diver with him see the Rhedosaurus and Elson begins describing it to Lee as it approaches him but the Rhedosaurus ends up swallowing the diving bell. Some time later, Tom is comforting Lee over Elson’s death when the Rhedosaurus comes ashore on the dock and begin rampaging through the city. A police officer fires at it but as he is reloading, the creature grabs him in it’s jaws and swallows him. As more police officers attack the creature and try to drive it back into the ocean, the citizens of New York panic and attempt to hide in the city’s subway tunnels to avoid it. As the National Guard is brought in to help defend the city, they manage to corner it with a electrified barrier and Evans attempts to kill it with a heavy cannon and when that fails, he has some men use a bazooka on it. The bazooka manages to blow a hole in the creature’s throat and the Rhedosaurus cries out in pain and flees the area, leaving a trail of blood behind it. Evan sends a squad after it to find out where it went but as they follow the trail, they suddenly start becoming sick. The men are taken to the hospital, where the doctor tells Evans that the creatures blood contains a virulent pathogen that could cause even more fatalities. Evans says that blowing the Rhedosaurus up is no longer an option and suggests using flamethrowers but Tom says that the smoke could carry the disease just as easily. Tom suggest using a radioactive isotope and firing it into the wound, killing the creature from within so it doesn’t spread the disease. When the Rhedosaurus comes ashore and heads to an amusement park, where it appears to destroying the roller coaster track to build a nest. Tom has Evans get him an expert marksman and when Evans returns with Cpl. Stone, Tom hands him a grenade rifle and they head towards the creature. Stone is unable to shoot the Rhedosaurus from the ground due to the roller coaster tracks so they get in the car and ride up the track so he can get a better shot. Stone shoots the isotope into the Rhedosaurus’s neck and they manage to leave as the Rhedosaurus thrashes in pain, setting the track on fire as it does so. Tom and Stone safely make it back to the ground and Lee embraces Tom as the watch the Rhedosaurus finally succumb to the isotope and collapses to the ground.

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was well received by the modern critics, holding a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics mostly felt it to be one of the best examples of the early B-movie, while Ray Harryhausen’s effects made it especially memorable and enjoyable. Inspired by the re-release of King Kong (1933) in theaters, this movie is noteworthy for being the first live action movie to show a giant monster awakening/brought about by atomic bombs, predating the most famous monster, Godzilla, by about 16 months. The movie’s title came from an old Ray Bradbury short story, as he was asked to go over the script and commented that the scene where the Rhedosaurus destroyed the lighthouse was like a short story he wrote, so the producers bought the rights to the story and changed the title. The movie was a box office hit, earning $5 million off of a $210,000 budget and would make Ray Harryhausen a sought after name for stop-motion special effects.

This is a fantastic B-movie to watch that is still as entertaining now as it was the first time I saw it. The acting was pretty good, with my favorite definitely being Cecil Kellaway (Elson), as his excitement upon seeing the creature, as well as his humor while describing a fight between a shark and an octopus, made his character so compelling, even though he was only on screen for a short time. The story was pretty good and definitely set the tone for a lot of the B-movies to come during the 50’s. The special effects were fantastic and even though this was one of his earliest movies, it showed how much talent Harryhausen had and was definitely an indication of the skills he would hone. Definitely one of those must see sci-fi movies if not for the movie itself, then for it’s influence on the genre for decades to come.

 

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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