Before E.T., Visitors From Outer Space Tended To Be Mean And Nasty

E.T was cute if not cuddly.

‘The Thing From Another World” was not.  Although, I can’t recall anyone in the cast of that 1951 science fiction feature inviting him or her or it to sleep in their closet with their stuffed animals.

‘The Thing From Another World” is one of my favorite Sci Fi features from the 1950s.  It was campy.  The special effects were good “for their time” but pale in comparison with the computer generated visuals of today.  It was borderline frightening and it was fun.

The story involved a team of scientists in the arctic who happen upon a flying saucer embedded in the ice together with a frozen “humanoid” creature. Once “The Thing” thaws out, the fun begins.  He’s an ill tempered sort.  The scientists must figure out how to get him (or it) before they get got.

The movie was filmed in both Glacier National Park and at a Los Angeles ice storage plant.  Hey, budgets dictated that you didn’t fly a an entire cast and crew to the Arctic ice for a couple of months.  They managed to pull it off just fine.

“The Thing” was portrayed by a then unknown actor from St. Paul, Minnesota. Four years later, he would strap on a gun belt and begin a 20 year run as Marshall Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke”.  Yes, it was James Arness. (The bartender at “Gunsmoke’s” Long Branch Saloon also had some monstrous experience on his resume.  Actor Glenn Strange appeared as Frankenstein’s Monster in several features beginning in the 1940s.)

In the end, “The Thing” falls victim to human ingenuity but not before reducing the general population of that scientific Arctic enclave.

This movie was kept alive with frequent television showings that carried into the years of my youth and it still shows up on the schedule of nostalgia based movie channels, especially around Halloween.  It’s always fun to re-watch something that gave you the goosebumps as a kid.

Don’t miss “The Thing From Another World”.