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The Thing From Another World (Blu-ray Review)

Seems to be a lot of these former wishlist titles have mine have been getting scratched off in just the last couple of months. A big and surprising one has been Howard Hawks’ classic The Thing From Another World. We are finally getting it here (Available NOW, I believe, after being delayed from November) in 2018. While John Carpenter’s remake of the film has scored itself quite a few editions on Blu-ray, this one has seemingly been collecting dust. Unlike Carpenter’s version, we unfortunately get no special edition or any bonus materials to speak of (Aside from trailers). What needs to be remembered, is its important that at least the film carries on and is restored to the newer and better format first and foremost. Hawks’ film is an important piece of genre history for both horror and science fiction and should grace every genre collector’s shelves. Have it grace yours by using the wonderful Amazon link below.

Film 

When scientist Dr. Carrington reports a UFO near his North Pole research base, the Air Force sends in a team under Capt. Patrick Hendry to investigate. What they find is a wrecked spaceship and a humanoid creature frozen in the ice. They bring their discovery back to the base, but Carrington and Hendry disagree over what to do with it. Meanwhile, the creature is accidentally thawed and begins wreaking havoc.

It may have been just because of the limitations of its times either money or innovation, but Howard Hawks’ The Thing From Another World is a terrific exercise in patience, suspense and the “slow burn” for horror. Said “Thing” in the title of the film doesn’t truly rear itself into the movie and make itself completely visible to the audience until the 50 minute mark of the film. And even after that, it takes another solid break before showing up again. Plus we never truly get a clean, perfectly lit look at it. This choice and style makes it all the more menacing and terrifying within the film.

Instead of being a piece of radioactive cinema history, the film chooses to lay back and let the monster and mystery build throughout. There’s an investigation into things that proves eerie, the overlooking and study of what is brought back. The inability to see the attacks that are happening right before them. The horrors of just purely being trapped inside a secluded base because its too cold to go anywhere, and may not even be livable inside.

I’ve never read the book, so I don’t know if this is a strict or loose adaptation, but one thing not being able to show a monster or “go big” with everything because the resources weren’t available yet it in time or money wasn’t all there can improve a film and script if you’re smart. With The Thing From Another World it benefits the characters. There is plenty of development throughout the film and you get a good comfort with these people. They’re good at their jobs, they team with one another, they have relationships (HOLY SHIT! A woman in a Thing movie!) with one another. It all helps to drive the suspense and terror later on or undermining them along the way.

John Carpenter’s film clearly improved upon this film, but going back to the original, you can clearly see he did things right and took the right elements and lessons from the Hawks movie. Hawks’ film still features suspense, entrapment, big effects and the kind of character dynamic going on in the other film (Though nowhere near as personally intense). The film boasts many iconic moments and legendary thrills that keep it worth looking back on 67 years later.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail: Warner Archive debuts Howard Hawks’ The Thing From Another World on Blu-ray with a terrific transfer. The black and white film features rich shadow work with a crisp, sharper image. Details are pretty strong from what’s available and the film looks the best it has and is a noticeable step up from the original DVD that’s been around. I’d say it feels like the kind of bump you’d see with the Universal Classic Monsters sequels, if not better but not quite the level of the original Monster movies. Regardless, people should be more than pleased with this image.

Depth:  The film features a solid, above average depth of field. Its good enough and characters feel free in a spacious environment. Movements come across smooth and cinematic.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and provide lovely work on shadows helping to define and shade with great saturation. No information is hidden that isn’t intended to be. No crushing present.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: The gray/white skin tones are pretty consistent from start to finish of the feature. Facial features and texture prove solid in the close up shots and all right in medium with nothing much to show far out.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Thing From Another World features a nice mono track that is definitely of its era, but its pretty clear and crisp given what it is. It is surprisingly quiet with humble ambiance abound as well. The natural setting on it is a little low, so you’ll want to bump it up a few notches to sound about your default level.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and the louder part of the mix. Slight hisses that don’t really feel to much out of place are present in the analog source.

Extras 

HD Theatrical Reissue Trailer (HD, 1:35) – With Spanish Subtitles

SD Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:50)

Summary 

Howard Hawks’ The Thing From Another World is terrific science fiction horror film that holds up and is still quite fun to revisit like that of a Night of the Living Dead. Warner Archive Collection is really outdoing themselves by finally getting to such a popular title like this and doing a bang up job of putting out a great product. I WISH there would be documentaries and interviews with historians about the film, but JUST GETTING IT ON Blu-ray is bonus enough in this day and age. So I will take it! Pick it up right away!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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