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The Thing (1982)

R  |   |  Horror, Sci-Fi  |  25 June 1982 (USA)
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Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people it kills.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Blair (as A. Wilford Brimley)
Windows (as Thomas Waites)
Norwegian Passenger with Rifle (as Larry Franco)
Nate Irwin ...


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 explodes, eventually 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 realizes 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. Written by Goth <brooks@odie.ee.wits.ac.za>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Man is The Warmest Place to Hide. See more »


Horror | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

25 June 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's The Thing  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,107,897 (USA) (2 July 1982)


$13,782,838 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In August 2003 a couple of hard-core fans, Todd Cameron and Steve Crawford, ventured to the remote filming location in Stewart, British Columbia and, after 21 years, found remains of Outpost #31 and the Norwegian helicopter. The rotor blade from the chopper now belongs to Todd and rests in his collection of memorabilia from the film. See more »


The profusion of pistols, shotguns, automatic weapons, flamethrowers and explosives is entirely ridiculous for an Antarctic research facility. See more »


[Holding the others at bay with a flamethrower, MacReady tosses a coil of rope amongst them]
Clark: What have you got in mind, MacReady?
MacReady: A little test. Windows, you and Palmer tie everybody down real tight.
Childs: What for?
MacReady: For your health!
See more »


Referenced in Anime Abandon: Wicked City (2012) See more »


Music by Billie Holiday (uncredited)
Lyrics by Arthur Herzog Jr. (uncredited)
Performed by Billie Holiday
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Good things come to those who wait
27 May 2000 | by (Copenhagen, Denmark) – See all my reviews

* * * * ½ (4½ out of 5)

The Thing

Directed by: John Carpenter, 1982

Looking back on John Carpenter's The Thing – today a highly treasured cult favourite – one has to wonder why it was dismissed by both the audience and critics when it first came out in 1982.

Steven Spielberg's extra terrestrial adventure about a sweet alien that phoned home (that stole the hearts of both children and adults world wide) had opened just two weeks before and was on its historic box office rampage. Bad scheduling may have had a greater impact than anything else on the fate of Carpenter's first big studio effort for Universal Pictures. Nobody was prepared – moreover wanted anything so dark, gory and scary as this genuine remake of the famous 1951 original. This was the time of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

It then makes for great movie history trivia, that The Thing has gained such a remarkable afterlife on video, DVD and television. Both financially and critically. Carpenter's version is less a remake of the Howard Hawks' version than a more faithful adaptation of John W. Campbell's short story "Who Goes There?' (on which both were based), and critics today point out how well Carpenter plays his characters against each other. Kurt Russell will never top this one, and he gets a brilliant sparring from the entire cast.

It opens in Antarctica with a sled husky running from a pair of crazed and armed Norwegian men in a helicopter. The scene is long, slow and uneasy. It feels like the Apocalypse. It oozes doomsday.

This scene comprises one of the greatest opening sequences in film history.

Ennio Morricone's moody synth score (heavy on naked thumping bass lines in classic Carpenter style), the windswept massive white of the desolate polar ice and the majestic husky running across the tundra chased by the chopper, compromises a completely mesmerizing piece of scenery.

A satisfying example of a movie that today – 18 years after – looks downright muscular in its simplicity.

The budget was big ($14 mill), yet it allowed Carpenter to visualize his ideas better than ever before. There's a brooding darkness to this film, making the whites and blues of the icy Antarctic claustrophobia seem poetic and almost angelic. Dean Cundey's extraordinary photography created a palpable chill to every shot. The careful preparation (the crew went into a record 11-month pre-production) paid off immensely.

Horror specialist Rob Bottin was handpicked for the many gory and grotesque special effects. Be warned – there's a lot of splatter and gore here. The Thing is actually notorious for its creature morphing scenes. Some find them disgusting, some mere cult.

An argument could be made against The Thing being an Alien rip-off; it has its origins in an old sci-fi story and it creates tension by popping a crowd of people (note: all-male) on an isolated outpost (an Antarctic research facility) terrorized by an alien life form.

Where Carpenter was clearly inspired by Ridley Scott's 1979 masterpiece, his own alien movie is original and intriguing in its own right. There's a rhythm and an environment that equals Scott's in every way.

The husky was in fact half-wolf and half-dog, and it was noted that it never barked or growled on or off the set (Horror Takes Shape, the making of - DVD version).

Watch in awe at the scene where it walks through the hallway and stares at a human shadow, slightly tilting its head forward in stalking position like a wild wolf. This is a fine piece of animal training, sure, but that's not the point. This is as spooky as anything ever made in a horror movie.

Carpenter had all the right tools here, and he utilized them to perfection, making The Thing his best movie alongside Halloween.

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