The Thing From Another World

PLOT:

A U.S. Air Force re-supply crew is officially dispatched by Gen Fogerty (David McMahon) from Anchorage, Alaska at the unusual request of Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), the chief researcher of a group of scientists working at a remote base in the Arctic, Polar Expedition Six. They have evidence that an aircraft of some kind has crashed nearby. The crew takes along Scotty (Douglas Spencer), a reporter and former war correspondent, who is at the base in search of a story. A minor sub-plot involves a romance between the commanding officer, Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) and Carrington’s secretary, Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan).

After being briefed by Dr Carrington, including high speed photos by Dr Redding (George Fenneman), Hendry’s crew and the scientists land at the crash site. They are shocked to discover that the shape of the craft is round—a flying saucer—with an airfoil of some sort protruding from the surface. They all agree to free it from the ice with thermite heat explosives, but in doing so, accidentally destroy the craft. However, the crew chief (Dewey Martin) has a geiger counter and locates a body nearby frozen in the ice.

They excavate the tall body, preserving it in a large ice block and return to the research outpost as a major storm moves in, making communication with Anchorage very difficult. Some of the scientists want to thaw out the creature immediately, but Hendry orders everyone to wait until he receives orders from Air Force authorities. Feeling uneasy guarding the body, Cpl Barnes (William Self) covers the ice block with a blanket, not realizing it is an electric blanket, and the creature thaws out, revives and escapes to the outside cold.

The creature is attacked by sled dogs, and the scientists recover an arm, bitten off by the dogs. They examine the arm and as it warms and ingests the blood from one of the dogs, it begins to come back to life. They learn that, while appearing humanoid, the creature is in fact an advanced form of plant life. Dr. Carrington is convinced that the creature can be reasoned with, but Dr Chapman (John Dierkes) and a few collegues disagree. The Air Force men are just as sure it cannot be reasoned with and may be dangerous. But Carrington soon realizes that the creature requires human blood to reproduce.

Carrington later discovers the hidden body of a sled dog, drained of blood, in the greenhouse. He has volunteers from his own team, Dr Olsen and Dr Auerbach, to stand guard overnight, waiting for the creature’s return.

Later, Carrington secretly uses plasma from the infirmary to incubate and nourish seedlings he has taken from the arm, failing to advise his colleagues or Capt Hendry of what he has done, or of the now-dead bodies of Olsen and Auerbach, drained of blood. Dr Stern (Eduard Franz) is almost killed, but escapes to warn the others. Nikki reluctantly updates Hendry when he asks about missing plasma. Hendry confronts Carrington, where he sees that the creature’s planted seed pods have grown at a tremendous rate — and need blood. Dr Wilson (Everett Glass) advises Carrington that he hasn’t slept, but Carrington is unconcerned. The creature returns and the USAF crew, after failing to affect it with firearms, trap it in the greenhouse. The scientists soon realize that the wounded creature will need more blood, and that it will not be confined for long.

Nikki notes that the temperature inside the station is dropping quickly, and Hendry relates that it’s probably due to a cut fuel line. The creature soon escapes and breaks back into the camp. But Captain Hendry and his men, following a suggestion from Nikki about how to deal with vegetables, set it alight with kerosene and it flees into the night.

The cold forces the scientists and the airmen to make a final stand in the generator room. The crew chief suggests that electricity is hotter than flaming kerosene, and they immediately create a walkway trap for the creature using high voltage electricity on overhead leads as a weapon. The group carries anything they can use to defend themselves. Lt McPherson (Robert Nichols) wonders aloud if the creature can read their minds. Lt Dykes (James R. Young), carrying a pickaxe comments, “He’ll be real mad when he gets to me”. As the creature advances on them, Carrington twice tries to stop the creature’s demise; once by shutting off the power, and the second by running out onto the trap and trying to reason with the creature. He fails and the creature throws him aside to suffer a minor injury.

The creature is electrocuted, shrinking to a husk as it is killed. Its seedlings are also destroyed. As the film closes, Hendry and Nikki are set to become engaged as Scotty files his “story of a lifetime” by radio, imploring his listeners to “Watch the skies!”

REVIEW:

I just watched this film for the first time this afternoon and have to say that for the first time. I was not impressed with a classic film. Maybe it was the high expectations I had for it, since it is a classic sci-fi film, but it just didn’t deliver.

For the most part, this picture is just flat out boring. I hate to use those words when describing a film in this genre, but its true. For a film that is about an hour and a half, it takes almost an hour to get anything going. Citizen Kane has more exciting things going on the same span of time, which is quite sad.

The film focuses exclusively on the military personnel at an Alaskan outpost. I can’t recall what they are doing up there, but the decision to focus on them is not necessarily a bad thing, per se, but for the most part this felt like a military propaganda movie by their choice to do so.

James Arness, of Gunsmoke fame, plays the monster (who is only on-screen for maybe a total of 5 minutes).I don’t have any criticism for his performance, but there isn’t enough of it there to critique in a positive or negative way.

I wish I could say that I loved this film and that you should rush out and see it, but that would make me a liar. I was dozing off as I sat and watched this. It was quite painful. No, this isn’t the worst movie ever made, but it isn’t that great. See it if you must, but keep in mind, its not that great.

2 out of 5 stars

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