In 1951, science fiction movies took two booster shots to the arm and entered into the public consciousness on a scale so grand that, looking back on it now, it’s like watching a dam burst in slow motion. So much so that one can easily drown in the torrent of “creature features” America produced in the 1950s. All thanks to two films that defined the boundaries of their sub-genre, enlivening hoary old tropes by dragging them, kicking and screaming, into the twentieth century.
One of those films, which we’ll consider in its own time, was The Day the Earth Stood Still. The other, released five months before, was The Thing from Another World. You can try and find a stranger pair of siblings…but I don’t really want you too. These two are all I need because they were all the genre needed at the time.
Prior to their release, science fiction was a joke, laughed at and bemoaned in turn by polite society, allowing it to become the sole province of nerds. The Thing irrevocably welded Sci-fi to Horror and saved both genres from their separate decline into self-parody and stupidity…as evidenced by another “great” film from 1951, Abbot and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. The world was six years away from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the old monsters had lost their grip on the collective amygdilla. New monsters – in a comfortably Frankenstein-ish mode, to be sure, but still – were already moving back in the shadows, ready to pop through the first conveniently open door and take your head off with a casual swipe. Continue reading The Thing from Another World (1951)