The Thing from Another World (1951) Worth Watching?

The Thing from Another World Review

by Yo Adrian on August 29th, 2018 | |

The Thing from Another World was directed by Christian Nyby and stars Kenneth Tobey (from The Vampire and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), Douglas Spencer and Margaret Sheridan. It’s about a group of scientists and soldiers who stumble on a frozen alien (and accidentally thaw and revive) in a remote arctic outpost. .

Look Out…It’s The Thing

The Thing from Another World

Way back in August of 1938 a guy named John Campbell wrote a novella called ‘Who Goes There?‘ that told the story of a group of scientific researchers who stumbled on a frozen alien (and go on to accidentally thaw and revive) in a remote arctic outpost. Turns out, this alien could assume the shape, personality and memories of anyone it devoured, making it a formidable opponent. Realizing the alien could easily take over mankind, were it to escape into civilization, the group decides to permanently isolate themselves and fight to the bitter end.

Jumping ahead to 1982 gives us the cult classic The Thing by director John Carpenter which tells a very similar story. Group of scientists, frozen alien, thawed alien, shape shifting, isolation, bitter end. There were a few differences of course. For example, 1938 John wrote about an alien that would have to ration its body mass when devouring people. If it devoured a man weighing 50 pounds less than itself, it would be able to use that extra 50 pounds to also devour a dog. 1982 John gave us an alien that would instead just shed body parts which themselves became new aliens.

Jumping back to 1951 gives us the first (very loose) adaptation of ‘Who Goes There?’, which has our group of researches (and, soldiers and a reporter) finding, thawing and reviving an alien. But that’s where the similarities end. This alien doesn’t shape shift and isn’t really a threat to mankind at all. The Thing from Another World actually tells a story of an alien that is made up primarily of vegetable-like matter, its big threat is that it can grow new versions of itself… but slowly, just like a plant. Because of this, there’s no need for the group to isolate itself, they simply kill the thing and go home. Oh, spoiler alert.

Thing from Another World Plant Aliens

Worth Watching?

Nope. Fans of John Carpenter’s The Thing won’t recognize much in this movie. And fans of classic Sci-Fi have plenty of better options to choose from including Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Blob and Them!. Heck, even the original The Fly (which is shockingly tame compared to its shockingly gory 1986 reboot) is better than The Thing from Another World.

Overall, the ’51 Thing is dull and anticlimactic. Everything is exposition. There’s a lot of talk and little action. And the action you do get is comically basic. The “Thing” is just some lumbering giant, like a Frankenstein or the zombie of a professional wrestler. There are a couple of kills, but they’re both off-screen, you only know because the group won’t stop talking about it.

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One thought on “The Thing from Another World (1951) Worth Watching?

  1. Yep, and it was John Campbell’s novella that introduced me to the story in one of the anonymous anthology books I devoured as a kid. Great memories, especially there was a comic book adaptation of “Who Goes There” I swear I remember somewhere…

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