The Thing

June 25th, 1982

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The Thing

The ThingThe ThingStill of Kurt Russell in The ThingStill of Kurt Russell in The ThingStill of Kurt Russell in The ThingThe Thing

Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.

Release Year: 1982

Rating: 8.2/10 (119,659 voted)

Director: John Carpenter

Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David

An American scientific expedition to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic is interrupted by a group of seemingly mad Norwegians pursuing and shooting a dog. The helicopter pursuing the dog crashes leaving no explanation for the chase. During the night, the dog mutates and attacks other dogs in the cage and members of the team that investigate. The team soon realises that an alien life-form with the ability to take over other bodies is on the loose and they don't know who may already have been taken over.

Writers: Bill Lancaster, John W. Campbell Jr.

Kurt Russell - R.J. MacReady
Wilford Brimley - Dr. Blair (as A. Wilford Brimley)
T.K. Carter - Nauls
David Clennon - Palmer
Keith David - Childs
Richard Dysart - Dr. Copper
Charles Hallahan - Vance Norris
Peter Maloney - George Bennings
Richard Masur - Clark
Donald Moffat - Garry
Joel Polis - Fuchs
Thomas G. Waites - Windows (as Thomas Waites)
Norbert Weisser - Norwegian
Larry J. Franco - Norwegian Passenger with Rifle (as Larry Franco)
Nate Irwin - Helicopter Pilot

Taglines: Man is The Warmest Place to Hide.


Official Website: JohnCarpenter - movie site |

Release Date: 25 June 1982

Filming Locations: Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $3,107,897 (USA) (27 June 1982) (840 Screens)

Gross: $19,629,760 (USA) (31 December 1982)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

There are 52 gunshots fired in the movie.

Continuity: As Mac comes out of the supply room with the flare and dynamite, the TNT sticks he is holding are almost falling apart and he is holding them by one stick. In the following shots of Mac the TNT sticks are suddenly wrapped tightly with black tape again and he holds all the sticks.

Garry: My God, what was happening to him?
MacReady: If it had any more time to finish... just another minute or two, it would have looked and sounded and acted just like Bennings!
Garry: I don't know what you're saying.
MacReady: That wasn't Bennings. It was one of those things out there, trying to imitate him, Garry. Come on.
Garry: MacReady, I know Bennings, I've known him for ten years. He's my friend.
MacReady: We've gotta burn the rest of him.

User Review

A classic that still holds up to this very day

Rating: 10/10

"I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won."

John Carpenter's "The Thing" is one of the most entertaining horror films ever made – fast, clever and purely exciting from start to finish. This is how all movies of the genre should be made.

Taking place in the Antarctic in 1982, the movie focuses specifically on a group of American scientists. We are given no introduction to their mission, but are thrust into their existence when a pair of seemingly crazy Norwegians appears at their base camp, chasing an escaped dog. The Norwegians are killed, and the dog finds its way into the colony, which is when things really start to get crazy.

It is soon made quite clear that the "dog" is actually a shape-shifting alien organism, which manifests itself upon the physical form of its victims – in other words, it begins to eat the Americans, and imitate them so well that the remaining humans cannot discern the difference between their friends and enemies

The pack of scientists, led by MacReady (Kurt Russell), begin to fight for their own survival, using wits instead of brawn. If the Thing is indeed amongst them, then how are they to go about revealing it? How many Things are there? How can the Thing be killed? (Or can it be destroyed at all?)

The creature's origins in the film are explained easily: Thirty thousand years ago a spacecraft plummeted to Earth, and was frozen in the Antarctic ice. The Thing tried to escape, and was discovered in the ice by the Norwegians, who unknowingly released it from its natural prison.

"The Thing," the movie itself, is similar to Ridley Scott's iconic "Alien" (1979). Many comparisons have been made – the protagonists are stranded in a desolate area, stalked by a seldom seen foe that manages to kill them off one-by-one. However, "The Thing" – for all practical purposes – came first.

Based on the famous short story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. (writing under pseudonym as Don A. Stuart), the film was originally adapted as a feature production in 1951 by Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby. The result was "The Thing From Another World," an unarguable classic. But to be fair, it bore little resemblance to the short story, and Carpenter's remake does it more justice.

The idea of the Thing being able to adapt the physicality of anyone is what essentially makes this movie so great, and is the most vital link to the short story. In 1951 the special effects were simply too poor to reasonably portray the shape-shifting organism, but thirty-one years brought many advances in SFX.

Creature effects artist Rob Bottin does an excellent job of turning what could have easily become a cheesy gore-fest into a startlingly frightening (and realistic) mess of blood and fear. The Thing, although never actually taking one specific form, is constantly seen in a morphing stage, and the effects are simply superb. They still pack a punch twenty-two years later.

Ennio Morricone's score (nominated for a Razzie Award at the time) is a bit too electronic and tinny, but nevertheless haunting when used correctly.

From the fact that its cast consists entirely of males, to the fact that its ending is one of the most thought-provoking and untypical conclusions of all time, "The Thing" – by any standards – is unconventional Hollywood at its best. It comes as no surprise that, at the time of its release, "The Thing" performed poorly in theaters, and "E.T." – released the same year and featuring a much kinder alien – became the higher-grossing picture of the two (by far).

In the long run, however, "The Thing" is superior in almost every conceivable way. Spielberg's tale is outdated and flopped during its 20th Anniversary Re-Release. "The Thing," on the other hand, has gradually climbed a ladder of cult classics – it is one of the most famous non-famous movies ever made.

Carpenter is notorious for having a very uneven career – from his amazing "Assault on Precinct 13" (1976) to the magnificent "Halloween" (1978) to the disappointing and silly "Escape from L.A." (1996), "The Thing" remains his very best motion picture. Although its reputation over the years has never been honorary enough to land it a spot on most "great movies" lists, "The Thing" is still one of my favorite horror films, and – upon close inspection – masterfully crafted. It is a daring and ingenious thrill-ride that is simultaneously unique and chilling – a genuine relief for film buffs who are tired of the same old horror knock-offs. This one, at the very least, is genuinely unpredictable.

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