The Thing from Another World is such a great film that John Carpenter completely obliterated it from the Sci-Fi nerd canon. Your parents and older academics will argue that this film still exists, but they are lying. Wait? Movies existed before 1980. Well, why don’t studios release them anymore? I mean, how many times do we need to give Scrooged a Blu-ray release? Anyways, let’s talk about the time that James Arness attacked our servicemen in Alaska.
James Arness is a tall Carrot-headed monster that gets his Body Snatchers into your Arctic Thriller. There’s Red Scare imagery, more females than Carpenter found in 1982 and copious amounts of smoking around flammable objects. You will see the skeleton of the later film in this original, but it is very much a product of its times. Intelligence is feared, as the military always remains in command. When Scotty the journalist gets a moment to interject, it’s only to reaffirm the military command on scene.
Hell, the entire Watch the Skies sequence is nothing more than the sole journalist restating the approved military message of the event. In a way, it’s far more devious than Carpenter ever intended. Upon revisiting the film, I found myself stunned by how short it was. Watching the film in so many 1950s cultural studies classes, I always assumed it was longer. Kudos to Warner Archive on the bang-up job of cleaning up the print for Blu-ray. Sure, Nyby and Hawks had a lot of shots set up in the dark. It’s just that this is the first time where the contrast improves for The Thing from Another World on home video. It’s a must-buy.