Today I re-watched the classic 1950’s Sci-Fi/Horror film The Thing from Another World, about a horrific alien wreaking havoc in an Arctic research base.

Upon careful observation, I have concluded that it was likely filmed entirely on location (Montana), and not on a soundstage. I have an odd habit of trying to study the architecture of places in films and video games, and this was no exception. However, I found that the interiors of the film matched the exterior shots, including the aerial shots from the snowplane, almost EXACTLY. For those who have seen it, the notable corridor fork from inside is clearly visible in the aerial, the radio tower is exactly where the stairwell in the radio room appears to lead up to, and all the stovepipes on the exterior are where the interiors ones are. It would make little sense in a 1950’s sci-fi film to construct from scratch a full-scale exterior of a fairly large complex, then to build a complete interior of the same structure in a different location. The catch here is that it would have forced very tight filming areas, but it is possible that false walls and extended areas were added (and much of the internal space cannot be accounted for) – thus while I personally think it was, it’s still quite possible otherwise. Regardless, it is nice in fandom to find a film where the interior so closely matches the exterior, allowing for rather comprehensive understanding of the structure. [and that the design appears to be more than perfectly functional for an ice base – down to the twin radio transmission/ receiving towers. It would also make a somewhat nifty Wolfenstein: ET map (defend the generator room!)]

In a second note, I see a more than a small semblance between the film and aspects of the first section of The Empire Strikes Back, whether intentional or not. First, it should be noted that George Lucas is on record as having been inspired by the sci-fi films of the 1950’s, including TTFAW, as featured in the TCM documentary Watch the Skies – itself titled from TTFAW no less. So the assertion that it is a possible influence isn’t a stretch.

Basically, both films feature an ice base, with a captain and his love interest (a strong charactered woman) bantering inside it, long stretching corridors between rooms with planks laid down on the floors; whereupon an extraterrestrial object streaks through the sky like a meteor, crashes into the ice, leading main character(s) to investigate. A main character is attacked by a horrible bipedal creature with long claws, one arm of which happens to become parted from it. The Echo Base wampa subplot was all but removed from the final version, but in it the wampas would have inflitrated the Echo Base, and eventually been contained to a room (ala the greenhouse). Still visible in the final cut for a few seconds (in the stables scene) is a Tauntaun that had been slaughtered by the unknown beast, much like its fellow packanimal in “TTFAW” the sleddog.

My point though is not alleging direct copying or plaigiarism, rather that the above is just an yet another apparent influence in the fictional cinematic universe based almost entirely upon archetypes, mythology, history and film history.