Friday, November 4, 2011

Film #82: The Thing from Another World (1951)

The Iceman Cometh. And he didn’t even buy us dinner first!
How cold!
Yes, that was lewd and off color, but that kind of talk is okay up here near the North Pole. After all, it is just all us army fellas keeping a watchful eye that Commie Red doesn’t try an overhead sneak attack. 
No dames in sight… not a single one… expect for that one raven haired piece of sass in the northern most outpost. But she’s only got eyes for our Captain, and you saw what he did to that last sap who batted an eye at her. Yes, the Iceman certainly cometh, then melt-eth, and smash-eth, and kill-eth!

That iceman is The Thing, an alien found frozen in the Arctic Circle ice near a U.S. Military/Research base in this week’s flick, “The Thing from Another World.” 
Not much happens in the North Pole station where Captain Patrick Hendry is based. Dudes talk on radios to the Pentagon, they freeze their coronas off playing in the snow, and keep a watchful eye out for soviet bomber planes that never show up (chickens).

But that all changes when Capt. Hendry receives orders to head to a remote American outpost several miles into the tundra to help investigate a strange discovery. Seems the outpost has discovered a giant flying saucer under the ice! Hendry is more than happy to go to the outpost, seeing as Nikki Nicholson is stationed there. Nikki, a research assistant at the base, is a rare raven-haired dame in these parts, and a past flame of Hendry’s.

But it seems he got a little bit too handsy on his last visit with Nikki when she flew down to the Captain's outpost, and she humiliated him by sharing his drunken behavior will his men. Hendry figures only one thing can fix her, see… a good strong armed kiss, 1950s sexual assault style!
Hendry rustles up a crew, including an embedded newspaper reporter hot for a story, and heads up to the outpost. He doesn’t just find a hot-in-the-pants Nikki upon his arrival, but also that Alien Iceman!

Not far from the base it appears that a flying saucer had recently crashed and became entombed below a sheet of ice. Well, how should they get it out? Blow it out with nuclear bombs, of course! 
How else would an 1950s American solve a problem! Can’t open that can of Corn Beef Hash, attach a thermo-nuclear device to its side! Your 8th grade son can’t learn algebra, strap a shiny nuke on his cranium. That ought to get the old think-think hot!

Well, the bombs just end up destroying the spaceship (WHAAA?!), but it does dislodge one of the craft’s crew into the ice. They lost the ship, but found them an alien on ice!
After cutting the creature out with more subtle tools and bringing it back to base, Hendry puts his men on 24-hour guard to monitor the alien-icle. After all, you can’t trust a non-American. Meanwhile, Hendry tries to put the moves on Nikki.

The men are so creeped out by the frozen alien that they can’t even stand to look at it. One dumbass grabs an electric blanket and covers the block of ice to shield the hideousness below. Double Oops! This melts the ice and the Iceman Cometh from his cold-prison only to wreak murderous havoc on the base. Seems this thing feeds on human blood, and finds a nice supply in the secluded base's inhabitants.

The military and scientific researchers have a choice. Capture and study the alien, or use force to stop its rampage. As the two sides fight over the right thing to do, men start to become Thing food.
Should the scientific find of the century be protected at all costs?
Can anything kill the monstrous Thing?!
Who really let the dogs out?
Find out, in the 1951 sci-fi/horror classic, “The Thing from Another World.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 4.3
Chris Dimick things:
“I live in the wrong time; was born 60 years late. I was meant to live in the 1950s. Not the 2010s. I’ve known this my entire life, but was reminded of the fact watching this week’s movie, filmed and set in 1951. Want proof I’m a man torn from his appropriate time? Here are just a few examples I found in The Thing from Another World:

I’m a journalist:
In 1951, newspaper reporters were the kings of media, breaking news and sharing stories with millions of captivated readers – like the newspaper reporter who breaks the story of The Thing. In 2011, newspapers are facing extinction and most people can’t be bothered to read more than 500 words in one sitting. Most news is taken from opinionated air-heads, not unbiased professional writers/thinkers. The newsman is under-read, and under-appreciated.

I’m a traditionalist:
In 1951, men were men and did manly things. Women were women and did womanly things. Each knew their role, and were happy to play it on the stage of life. A man could work one job and support a growing family, and a woman could work until she met a good husband, and then raise their children without worry. Such as the case with Capt. Hendry and his squeeze Nikki in TFAW. Sure, she was a lab assistant, but kept wondering if Hendry would make an honest woman of her someday so they could move behind the picket fence and squirt out humans.

In 2011, both men and women have to work in order to not starve. If they do want kids, they don’t get to raise them. That is up to the schools and daycare – mom and dad have to work 10 hour days for less pay, after all. Men are expected to cater to women, but not be sexist. Women are expected to both work, AND take care of the children/household. The importance of family and relationships has been replaced in America with the importance of fame and wealth. In 1951 the middle class ran America. 
In 2011, the middle class are slave to “America.”

I’m a fashionista:
There is nothing like the sight of 1950s fashion – where the men dressed in slacks, tie and hat for business, and the women actually wore dresses. Non skanky, curve hugging dresses. In The Thing, even during an alien murdering spree, the men kept their army uniforms neat and proper, and the ladies wore tight but modest dresses. After all, they were at work. 
In 2011, someone in my work place wore flip flops and sweat pants on Casual Friday. Yep… to work. In 1951, you would get fired for that. As you should. In 2011, it's just part of the ongoing slobification of America.

I’m a technophobe:
In 1951 if you wanted to communicate with a person you either picked up a corded, land-based phone and had a real conversation, or you got your ass on a plane and flew up to the North Pole base… as Capt. Hendry did when he pined to see his beloved Nikki. There were no texts or Buttbook or email. Just human interaction. In 2011, try and call someone to chat. I bet you 1000 to 1 that you get voicemail… and then an emailed response.

I like real music (where people sing and play instruments):
The 1950s popular music consisted of hot jazz acts, crooners like Sinatra and Dean, and strange-sweet lounge acts like Les Baxter and Martin Denny. We can’t forget the ladies, like Julie London’s soft soprano or grizzled late Billie Holiday. Can’t forget the early rock either of Elvis Presley or the swinging country of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. In The Thing when the military crew wanted to relax after a long day of avoiding aliens, they popped on some soft lounge and poured themselves a stiff drink. Like a man should.

The 2010s popular music is nothing but an endless string of crappy R&B noises with people talking over them (I’m looking at you Pitbull). Throw in the brain-melting mindless club music of Katy Perry, Lady Gag-gag, the fame-worship of trash acts like Ke$ha, or the violent and culture-damaging rap of Lil’ Wayne, Nas, Odd Future and other criminals, and it is nearly enough to make me either crush myself to death with my vintage LP collection, or stick screwdrivers in my ears until I hear a final click. 

Watching The Thing from Another World, I could really identify with the Thing. He was a stranger in a strange land, just struggling to get through the day in a world he doesn’t seem to recognize or understand. When I watch a film, hear a song, or read a book from the 1950s, it just all seems to make sense. That’s my time, and I missed it.  
I’m Andy Rooney, signing off for now.”

N-Rating: 4.0
Nick Rich things:
“You see, the thing is... oh man! I've already ruined my review by starting out with a terrible pun! I'll never recover now. Oh. Wait, that's how I usually start out my reviews! Phew! Saved by the horrible sense of humor I've been blessed with.

Before I begin my review in earnest, look at the cast of The Thing from Another World:

Clean-cut? Check. Gambling? Check!

Now that is a clean-cut looking bunch if I ever saw one! Don't agree? Take another look at them!

The head scientist reluctantly shares his stash with everyone.

They're simply oozing wholesomeness... which is how I would classify this week's film. It doesn't ruffle the feathers too much, but gives you enough story and scares (with a creamy darkness center) to keep your mind happily occupied for the duration of the film. Unlike other films of this period, The Thing doesn't seem slow. Sure, it has a leisurely pace at times, but it is well within reason and never feels lethargic.

The way this title melted onto the screen ROCKED!

I was impressed from the opening title screen (which looked much more advanced than its era) and a few of the surprises made me consider jumping - quite a feat for a 50s horror film. In fact, the Thing's surprising entrances onto the screen make me wonder if a young John Carpenter was taking notes when he saw this film, as similar shots would appear in his slasher classic Halloween 27 years later.

Psycho or Thing?

Granted there was no gaping wounds in this film, or grisly deaths portrayed on screen... but if you squint you can almost see Michael Myers laying siege to our frozen heroes in the arctic tundra. Check out the similarities for yourself:

The Thing bawlin' in 1951

Mr. Myers brawlin' in 1978
Obviously, one would not consider Halloween a wholesome movie, which just goes to show you how much things changed in cinema in the interim years between these films... But have things really changed that much? Were things ever truly wholesome?

Science can do anything except, apparently, cure this headache.

I tend to think that the image of wholesomeness we have (and romanticize) of the 50s is merely a facade for the darkness that looms in each of us. Some say that showing things how they are and pushing the envelope of 'truth' is a good thing - that we're being true to the evil nature that lurks in our hearts... which is a sense is true. However, the difference between the 50s and the 70s (and today) is that in the 50s people knew enough to not embrace the darkness... doing so only begets more darkness. Sure, there's a part of you that's inextricably drawn to it... like the Thing to human blood, but do yourself a favor and take a cue from The Thing from Another Planet: acknowledge the darkness, fight it and strive for a brighter tomorrow... after all, who can live in darkness all the time? (Besides cute bats of course!)

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you feel like watching a film you can drink a root-beer float to... or if you want to make your children afraid to eat their veggies.”

Things We Learned from The Thing from Another World:
-Only dames can fool a captain.
-Russians were all over the poles like flies.
-“He’s having kittens” is the best phrase of the 1950s.
-The North Pole is sexy.
-Computation solves everything.
-One jet engine generates enough heat to warm a 50-story office building.
-Aliens upstage Moses.
-Some kisses are just as bad as Japanese torture.
-Blood has the electrolytes plants need!
-Learning is better than life.
-The Thing is a vegan.
-Watch the skies!


Quote of the Viewing:
[While The Things lies frozen in a block of ice nearby, Capt. Hendry makes his move to try and melt another block of ice – Nikki Nicholson. Hendry goes in for a forceful kiss.]

Chris: “OoooooooooooooHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
Nick: (in Hendry voice) “You melt, dame!”
Chris: (in Thing voice) “At least SOMETHING’S melting around here!”

RDHP Presents:
A Few of Our Favorite Things
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings?
Yeah, these are not a few of the RDHP’s favorite things! But the following ARE some favorite “Things”, presented in honor of our love of James Arness’s hulked out “Thing” alien in this weeks flick.

John Carpenter's The Thing
It's pretty much the perfect horror movie, as we said in our past review on the 1982 classic. And horror is our favorite.

 Lets give a hand to this Addams Family handyman. Or, actually, maybe we should give him a body?

The Thing
 How did this Fantastic Four star ever find pants that fit? The plight of all us big-booty girlfriends.

Thing 1 and Thing 2
I don't know about you, but I think Thing 2 is WAY better looking.

This Thing
Just when we thought we could never have nightmares, along comes the Dutchess of Alba's face. What a beautiful bride! With a name like Alba you'd expect more.

That Thing
Horror comes in many forms and Tom Hanks delves into one the most horrific forms of all: teen idols!

No comments:

Post a Comment