Why "The Thing" Is Out Of This World

It is unknown whether Howard Hawks intended The Thing from Another World to be a film that would ultimately be revered by future filmmakers. Given that science fiction and horror films rarely reach such a level of admiration, he most likely did not.

While Hawks is credited as producer rather than director, most in the industry accept him as – at the very least – a strong influence in the direction of the film.

In fact, the film might well have been just another low-budget fright-fest had it not been for Hawks’ style of naturalism in his filmmaking. The frequent overlapping of dialogue, the relaxed interplay between characters, the simplicity in the depiction of everyday actions, all contribute to the film’s allure.

This naturalism makes the space between our own reality, and that of the characters in the film, quite small. Not only are the characters relatable, they are likeable. They walk, talk, and act like ordinary people; they often use humor or small talk to diffuse dangerous and stressful situations.

Most of the cast was fairly unfamiliar to movie-goers at the time, lending to its realistic nature. The lack of highly recognizable stars makes the film more about the story than about celebrity. Imagine John Wayne as Captain “Pat” Hendry instead of Kenneth Tobey. Or what if Joan Crawford played Nikki instead of lovely Margaret Sheridan. The film simply wouldn’t work.

Plus, an unknown cast was much easier on a budget which required a significant expense to create a believable creature from outer space.

Make no mistake, although the actors weren’t superstars, each turned in a well-crafted performance contributing to the film’s perpetual favorability. Key players are Robert Nichols as Lt. “Mac” McPherson, James Young as Lt. Eddie Dykes, Douglas Spencer as tenacious reporter Ned “Scotty” Scott, Robert Cornthwaite as lead scientist Dr. Carrington, and Dewey Martin as Crew Chief Bob – the one guy who jovially comes up with a lot of good suggestions that the Captain probably should have thought of himself.

It’s all well and good to have strong direction and strong performances, but a great sci-fi film needs some frights, and The Thing has plenty. Set in a remote area of the Arctic, the kerosene sequence, the electric blanket scene, and a particular scene involving the greenhouse still have the power to terrify. And those are just a few.

Another scene to look for is between Nikki, Pat, and Scotty when the Creature cuts off the heat much needed heat to the indoors. It is funny and also suspense building.

If you are tired of watching the same old slashers, perhaps a trip with Captain Hendry and his crew to the Arctic Circle will provide you some unexpected thrills and frights.

Regardless, it is advisable to keep watching the skies. You never know what you might encounter.

Related Articles
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

Content copyright © 2023 by Lucinda Moriarty. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lucinda Moriarty. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Lucinda Moriarty for details.