In the Monsters vs Aliens storyline, the monsters are much more recognizable than the aliens. Or more appropriately, alien. While every one of the monsters has a specific counterpart, the alien seems to be an amalgam of various aliens from 1950s movies, nearly all of which were concerned with world conquest. The Thing From Another World is an excellent example of these types of movies. It's also incredibly well done and not the silly B movie you might be expecting. The main focus of the film is more on the scientists and military men who find the creature than on the creature itself.
The story is still relevant 60 years later. The scientists' main focus after finding the creature is to study it and perhaps try to communicate with it. The military grunts want to destroy it the moment they realize how dangerous it is, but the bigwigs want them to leave it unharmed and trap it, quite possibly to use it as a weapon. The creature itself seems to be mostly concerned with draining humans and animals of their blood in order to feed himself and his young. While he can't actually communicate with the humans, they are all convinced that he's come to Earth to nurture his seeds and eventually conquer the planet.
I couldn't help but make comparisons with the alien to Frankenstein's monster. He goes after the humans with his hands out in the same stiff pose, he speaks in grunts, and they even try to defeat him with fire at one point. The film is in black and white, but the posters show him as being green. I guess the main difference would be that electricity gave Frankenstein's monster life, whereas here it kills the alien creature.
As I mentioned, the focus of the film is really the people and there are a lot of fun characters here. Captain Hendry, played by Kenneth Toby, reminded me a lot of Steve McQueen as the charismatic head of the military grunts. Douglas Spencer plays Scotty, a wise cracking reporter who has come along in the hopes of getting the big scoop. Margaret Sheridan plays Nikki, who is the scientists' secretary and love interest for Captain Hendry - she's got a lot of spunk and attitude for a 1950s woman. Robert Cornthwaite is also great as Dr. Carrington, the scientist most convinced he can communicate and learn from the creature.
While the other monster movies I've watched in this challenge so far really suffered from the lack of monster time, I really didn't care how much time the alien appeared on screen in this movie at all, I was so wrapped up in the character interaction.
It's almost impossible to compare this alien to Gallaxhar, as the alien doesn't talk whereas Gallaxhar never shuts up. But they do both seem to want to conquer earth, as most aliens seem to want to do. Gallaxhar actually has a lot more in common with most evil scientists, and after having seen Megamind recently, I honestly don't see much difference between the two characters beyond Gallaxhar having tentacles instead of feet. But that's Dreamworks for you...
John Carpenter's The Thing is not, strictly speaking, a remake of this film but rather another adaptation of the same short story, "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell Jr. However I rarely see mention of one of these films without the other, so I thought it would make sense to include it. I already have established a difficult relationship with John Carpenter's films, and this one started off not much better. I came really close to turning it off in the first hour because it was moving way too slow for me. I'm happy to say though that after awhile things did amp up and I enjoyed the second half of the film much more. The creature in this version is far more horrifying and just flat out disgusting. It's a bloody tentacled monster that can take the shape of anything it comes in contact with.
In this version of the film there is no scientist vs military issue, it is just the scientific crew and their helicopter pilot alone in the antarctic against this menace. Since the alien can take on the shape of anything, the film is far more about trusting no one than anything else. I think part of the reason I was unhappy with the beginning is because this angle has been used so many times before that it was hard for me to really get involved until the crew started taking more desperate means to try to discover who among them was infected by the alien. I also enjoyed its more ambiguous ending.
They've recently announced plans to make another version of The Thing, that will supposedly be a prequel to the John Carpenter version. It seems like people are determined to keep visiting this story from slightly different angles.