Let's also not forget Howard Hawks original screen adaptation of by John W. Campbell, Jr.'s 1938 sci-fi novella Who Goes There
This was the marvelous 1951 film The Thing form Another World
which is usually just referred to as The Thing
Great story of an arctic menace with full Cold War overtones. Bits and pieces of the plot, the characters, and the setting have been recycled into numerous films, the most recent example being the frozen alien base in the X-Files movie.
It's a good enough story that his film was remade two additional times. Carpenter's 1981 version (relocated from the North Pole to Antarctica) kept the original vibe and resulted in that rarest
of all Hollywood creatures: a remake that compared favorably with an original. The 1998 edition was long on special effects and name actors, but somehow didn't quite
capture the eerie feelings of isolation and weirdness that the previous two versions produced. Maybe this is just one of those pictures that benefits from slightly stilted dialog, lesser acting talent, and B&W photography.
I remember the 1951 edition scared the tar out of me the first time I saw it when I was a little kid. I had snuck out of bed to watch it from the staircase into the living room. My sister used to get to stay up and watch Chiller Theater with her friends on Saturday nights.
Chiller Theater was a favorite with the 'big kids' when I was growing up. It used to run all the old cheap sci-fi and horror movies from the 50s. Most likely because it cost the TV station nothing to do so. Being allowed to join in with the crowd that watched Chiller was a major rite of passage for us. It meant you got to go over a friend's house at night. It meant you got to stay up late drinking sodas and eating popcorn with your friends. But most of all, it meant you weren't a scaredy-cat
It was on a windy autumn night. I remember watching, freezing my butt off on the stairs (which worked well with a story set in the arctic) scared stiff about what I was seeing - and even more by the thought of getting caught by my parents. My older sister spotted her 'little brat of a brother' almost immediately, but she didn't say anything.
When the movie was over, I quickly went back to bed - but not before I turned on every light in my room!
If my father noticed the lights being on (which I have no doubt he did since he was an incorrigible late-night snacker) he at least had the grace not turn them off. Nor was anything ever said to me about it. My father was a firm believer in the notion that a "burned hand teaches best." And to his credit, he seldom felt the need to personally repeat to us a lesson we had learned ourselves through our own suffering.
But the following Saturday (and every Saturday after that) my sister had to watch Chiller Theater over one of her friends' houses if she wanted to see it.
Apparently "The Dad-Thing" had spoken.