Thursday, 6 October 2011
Director: Christian Nyby, 1951
Pros: decent suspense, some romance and lightheartedness, interesting characters, realistic reactions
Cons: not particularly scary, some overacting
A team of scientists in the Antarctic ask a local US military base for help when a spaceship crashes nearby. They find and bring back an alien life form that ends up terrorizing the research facility.
This black and white film, *based on John W. Campbell, Jr.'s short story, "Who Goes There?"*, holds up remarkably well, retaining the suspenseful tension, interspersed with moments of romance between the military captain and a base secretary and jokes between the army flight crew.
It avoids cheesiness by only giving a few glances of the alien ship and creature, leaving most of the scares to your imagination and sudden attacks (think Jaws).
There are a few moments when the actors' expressions are a little too pronounced, but on the whole it's a well scripted story with some interesting characters.
There's a definite undercurrent of military good, scientists bad, as the head scientist argues with the captain about how he's handling the situation. And by the end, the scientists are acting a bit like mad scientists, which is fitting in a way as we finally get to see the alien for several minutes, and it looks a lot like Frankenstein's monster. *This fear of science was common in films of the era, when the atomic bomb had recently been used and the Communist U.S.S.R now had access to such.*
The explanation of the alien life form is very interesting, and creepy.
If you like suspenseful sf with a few chills, this is a good one.
The comments between *s are due to Steve's comment on the original post, that background information would be helpful in understanding the message of the film.