• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Thing From Another World

TITLE: The Thing From Another World

YEAR: 1951

GENRE: Science Fiction and Horror

There are certain films that are watershed moments for the history of cinema because of their groundbreaking aspects. It does not happen very often and only a handful of films belong to this illustrious fraternity, and no matter how old these films become they still need to be celebrated for their contributions to the art form we all love. The 1951 film The Thing From Another World is one of those films in the fact that it was one of the very first movies to combine the science fiction and horror genres into a cohesive product that could be defined as either category. Where one categorizes The Thing From Another World is up to the viewer, but the film is one of the very best films of its kind from the 1950’s and still is one of the more suspenseful offerings ever made.

At the North Pole a band of scientists supervised by Dr. Arthur Carrington (played by Arthur Cornthwaite) and Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan) discover a flying saucer under the ice at their scientific base. Air Force officials led by Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) are supervising the dig, and during the search discover a creature frozen in a block of ice. The creature (James Arness) inexplicably unthaws after being taken indoors and has a thirst for blood for itself and to nurture its seedlings. The scientists want to take advantage of the situation to study the creature, but the Air Force captain would prefer a more military solution. As sled dogs die and the explorers are picked off one by one, the military solution looks more appealing.

The Thing From Another World does have all the elements of low budget science fiction film including an unknown cast, small budget, and a monster in a rubber suit, but raises itself above its limitations in many different ways. First of all the cinematography is fantastic and knows when to use shadows to intensify one situation and light another to build the storyline. The story itself is fast paced and at times has a suffocating feel mostly due to the claustrophobic set construction and a setting where one knows the Calvary is not coming over the horizon. The creature is the usual guy in a rubber suit as was customary in the 1950’s, but the creature makes limited appearances and when it does the filming is wonderful and makes its appearance even more frightening. Director Christian Nyby does a wonderful job knowing when to scare and when to build suspense: it has never been scarier in the movies when the heroes see their own breath. It is also admirably that Nyby made the Nikki character as a more headstrong, aggressive female than the usual swooning at the slightest scary sight woman that filled the horror films of this era, and the Nikki character arguably paved the way for more aggressive female science fiction and horror heroines such as Ripley in the Aliens series. On a smaller note, the opening title credits were also groundbreaking in the way that they bleed across the screen.

Nyby and Arness later moved onto television in a big way: Nyby was instrumental in the creation of the television show “Gunsmoke” which ran for 635 episodes between 1955 and 1975, and Arness played the legendary Marshall Matt Dillon in the tough town of Dodge City. There was a remake of this film in 1982 by director John Carpenter, and many fans have debated which the better movie is. For me, they are both classics and the debate is sort of silly. Despite how one feels about the remake versus the real thing is irrelevant, as The Thing From Another World is classic science fiction that broke new ground in the world of nerd cinema and deserves its place among a handful of elite films in the horror and science fiction genres. Any fan of either genre should be obligated to watch The Thing From Another World as the perfect example of 1950’s cinema.

* * * * *

–Mark

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