Thing from Another World
(2003) - RKO Pictures (Warner Bros.)
by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/D
Specs and Features
87 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered,
Snapper packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menus with sound
and music, scene access (25 chapters), languages: English DD 1.0
Mono, subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Closed Captioned
"Watch the skies!"
I've said it before and I'll say it again... there's just nothing
like a good 1950s sci-fi flick to kill an afternoon with. And they
don't get much better than The Thing from
The Thing from Another World
tells of the story of a scientific expedition at the North Pole,
lead by the eminent Dr. Carrington. As they're conducting their
experiments one day, the scientists detect a massive object - some
kind of huge aircraft - falling to Earth. It crashes some 40 miles
from their camp, so they call in the Air Force to help investigate.
Enter Captain Hendry and his aircrew, who fly in from Anchorage and
to take Carrington and his men, along with an over-eager newspaper
man, to the crash site. There they discover a flying saucer frozen
in the ice. In an amusing scene, they manage to destroy the saucer
while trying to release it for study, but their efforts are redeemed
when they also find the saucer's occupant frozen nearby.
Returning to their base with the alien on ice, a struggle soon
begins between Carrington and his people, who wish to study the
creature immediately, and Hendry, who knows they might be dealing
with something dangerous, and who wants to wait for official orders
on how to proceed. But a snowstorm has blown in, rendering
communication with the outside world impossible. And you know what
that means. Yep... cut off from the outside world, the group
suddenly finds themselves fighting for survival when the creature
thaws and escapes, and also fighting each other in a classic
stand-off between science and the military. Things get even more
hairy, however, when it's discovered that the creature is quite
literally out for human blood.
One of the things that make this film so effective is the cast.
They play their roles with straight-laced bravado. Their work is so
disarming that when the invader finally does make his appearance, it
takes the audience entirely by surprise. The alien strides into a
room full of heavily armed people and starts raising hell - you
don't expect it and the creature's scenes are that much more
effective for it. It's a good thing too, because James Arness (as
the alien) looks like a guy wearing a lot of green makeup - these
are not terribly effective creature effects. Still, the direction is
effective and composer Dimitri Tiomkin's creepy score helps add
tension in just the right moments.
Interestingly, there's been a lot of controversy over the years as
to who actually directed this film - producer Howard Hawks or the
credited director, Christian Nyby. Regardless of who actually sat
behind the camera, it was certainly the well-established Hawks who
got the lion's share of the publicity.
This new DVD is part of a series of classic sci-fi/horror releases
from Warner that include The Omega Man,
Soylent Green, Of
Unknown Origin, House of Wax
and The Haunting. The
Thing is presented here in all its original full frame, B&W
glory, and the picture quality is quite good overall. The contrast
is excellent, with generally good detail and moderate, but
appropriate, film grain. There's little in the way of edge
enhancement and compression artifacting, and only light dust and
dirt present on the print. There are a few areas where a missing
frame or two results in a noticeable jump in the picture and sound,
but given the age of this film (and the condition we've heard many
of these old RKO titles were in), fans should be plenty happy.
On the audio side of things, we're presented with the films
original monaural soundtrack, encoded here in Dolby Digital 1.0. The
sound isn't at all dynamic, coming as it does entirely from your
center speaker, but it's entirely appropriate to the film. The track
sounds good and represents the film well, although you might have to
turn the volume up in a couple of passages to make out what's being
said, particularly when the actors are talking over one another.
In terms of extras, you get the film's original theatrical trailer
and that's it. The trailer is only in fair condition, but it's
hilarious - typical of many 1950s sci-fi trailers - and it's well
worth a watch. You should also note that the packaging features some
fun publicity stills of the cast - the one on the inside flap is
It's not a special edition and it's not a spectacular release, but
it's on DVD and it's appropriately cheap, so who's complaining? The
Thing from Another World is as classic an entry in the
1950s sci-fi canon as you'll ever see. Definitely recommended.