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The Thing (1982)

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A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.

Director:

John Carpenter

Writers:

Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (story)
Popularity
548 ( 12)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kurt Russell ... 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 Franco ... Norwegian Passenger with Rifle
Nate Irwin Nate Irwin ... Helicopter Pilot
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Storyline

A US research station, Antarctica, early-winter 1982. The base is suddenly buzzed by a helicopter from the nearby Norwegian research station. They are trying to kill a dog that has escaped from their base. After the destruction of the Norwegian chopper the members of the US team fly to the Norwegian base, only to discover them all dead or missing. They do find the remains of a strange creature the Norwegians burned. The Americans take it to their base and deduce that it is an alien life form. After a while it is apparent that the alien can take over and assimilate into other life forms, including humans, and can spread like a virus. This means that anyone at the base could be inhabited by The Thing, and tensions escalate. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Man is The Warmest Place to Hide. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Norwegian

Release Date:

25 June 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Carpenter's The Thing See more »

Filming Locations:

Juneau, Alaska, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,107,897, 27 June 1982

Gross USA:

$19,629,760

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$19,629,760
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (VHS)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The helicopter featured in the opening scene is a Bell 206. See more »

Goofs

(at around 18 mins) At the Norwegian base, when Mac and the doctor enter the room with the ax in the door, you see the door closing in the background, but in a later camera shot, you see the door still wide open. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
MacReady: Poor baby, you're starting to lose it.
See more »

Alternate Versions

List of difference and extended/alternate scenes from TV cut of The Thing;
  • Entire TV cut is shown in cropped screen.
  • Voiceover is present during some scenes.
  • Entire opening with spaceship crash plays much faster.
  • Different version of "The Thing" theme playing during the first 5 minutes.
  • Shot where "United States Outpost 31" sign is shown appears to be couple of seconds longer.
  • Extra 6 seconds long scene where Windows is introduced by voiceover saying how he is radio operator who can't wait to get back into states.
  • Mac is also introduced by voiceover saying how he is ex army pilot who got into confrontation with someone and then he took his assignment in outpost. This voiceover is spoken during the "Cheatin Bitch" scene, however, almost entire scene is cut and only opening 4 seconds are present.
  • Extra shot of camp radio antenna.
  • Extra 7 seconds long scene where Childs is introduced by voiceover saying that he is mechanic. In this scene he stops working on bulldozer after he notices Norvegian chopper flying around. Also Palmer can be seen walking behind him.
  • For some reason, Childs line about Norvegian chopper is strangely dubbed, deleting his "Says Norge..." words.
  • Scene where Norvegian pilot is trying to find grenade before it explodes is deleted, instead it cuts to Mac and others and then it cuts back where Norvegian with rifle ducks down when grenade explodes and destroys the chopper.
  • Extra 6 seconds long scene where Garry is introduced by voiceover saying that he is army men who likes his job as a station manager. In this scene Garry checks his gun after he shot and killed Norvegian with rifle and takes out empty shell from it. Also, some cheesy music is added in background when he kills Norvegian.
  • Scene where crew is trying to put out the burning chopper is 7 seconds longer with camera moving to the left showing more of the destroyed chopper.
  • Voiceover introduces Clark during his first scene with Norvegian dog saying that he is doing some research about effects of extreme cold on animal behavior.
  • Voiceover then says "These men were commissioned by United States National Science Institute to gather data concerning the physical and natural science of continent of Antartica." This voiceover is present during the scene where crew watches destroyed chopper. At the same time some extra music is heard during the scene (Sterilization track from original soundtrack)
  • Mac's line "First god damn week of winter" is changed into "First darn week of winter".
  • Alternate take of Bennings having his wound stitched by Copper. Instead of the close ups of their faces, alternate side shot of both of them is shown.
  • Voiceover introduces Copper during this scene as "graduate from Harvard medical school" and how "personal tragedy in his life sent him on this adventure".
  • Voiceover introduces Bennings as "meteorologist, old pro with many papers published in his field".
  • Interesting scene where Blair is introduced by voiceover saying that he is biologist. What's interesting is that the scene where he is introduced is actually scene where he is looking at photo of Norvegians found in their station. Of course, this TV version doesn't shows close up of Norvegians on photo, it only shows Blair sitting and looking at something.
  • Alternate line from Blair. When he is talking with Windows he says "Windows, come on" instead just "Come on", like in theatrical version.
  • Funny sounding dubbed line where Windows says "Look, i haven't been able to reach a soul in two weeks". Then again, Sterilization track is heard in background.
  • Extra scene where Palmer is introduced by voiceover. This scene has couple extra shots of him looking at Garry who is checking Norvegian which he killed. Also in this scene, Norris is introduced by voiceover. Similary like with Blair's introduction, a shot of his face is actually just a little longer shot of his reaction taken from other scene later in the movie where Mac and Copper have brought burned body from Norvegian camp.
  • Extra scene where Garry is checking dead Norvegian's tags and asks Childs did they hear anything what Norvegian was saying. Childs responds "Am i start lookin Norvegian to you, bwana?"
  • Voiceover introduces Nauls during his arrival in the room where crew is checking dead Norvegian.
  • About 8 seconds long alternate scene where Fuchs is introduced by voiceover. Instead of a view of entire room like in normal version, scene shows close up of Fuchs while Nauls is rolling behind him and then Garry gets into the shot and asks how long Norvegians were stationed there.
  • When Nauls says "bullshit" the word is dubbed. Also when he says how Palmer is the way he is since the first day, camera doesn't shows Palmer rising his middle finger, instead it shows him turning over to Nauls and then cuts onto next scene.
  • Palmer line "Shit Doc, i'll give you a lift" is cut. Instead he just says, "Doc i'll give you a lift".
  • Scene where Mac agrees to take Doc to the Norvegian camp is slightly cut, or edited differently.
  • Different version of The Thing theme is playing while Norvegian dog is under the table.
  • Scene where Bennings is shouting at Nauls to turn the music down is not shown, instead it cuts to usual camera view of entire kitchen and games room, and dog moving across the hallway.
  • Scene where Mac and Doc find the ax in the door inside Norvegian camp is cut.
  • Scene where Mac and Doc are checking the corpse of dead Norvegian is cut short (about 15 seconds), it only shows two close ups of Mac's face, hand with frozen blood on it and Doc's line "My god, what the hell happened here?" is heard off screen.
  • Extra line is heard by Mac after he finds Norvegian's video unit. It's something like "Video cassettes oughta tell us something".
  • Extra line is spoken by Mac in little longer scene after he and Doc found dead two-face thing. After he says "Help me find the shovel, Doc", both of them are walking away and Mac says "We can get this thing into chopper".
  • And then, the scene where Bennings is telling Nauls to turn down the music is shown, but Bennings line "Turn that crap down" is dubbed into "Turn that junk down".
  • Scene where Norvegian dog watches the crew bringing the dead two-face thing inside has different "The Thing" theme playing in background.
  • Scene where crew watches burned two-face is cut down and little speed up, but it has extra shot of following close up on Blair, Bennings and Norris.
  • Autopsy of the thing is cut short, but it looks like it has little longer shot of Fuchs looking at shredded clothes.
  • Scene where Palmer changes videotapes is cut. It doesn't show Palmer and Childs smoking pot and watching what looks like a porn movie.
  • Entire cannel scene is cut short and edited. Much of the gore and violence is deleted or cut short. Part where Mac is walking inside kitchen and gets a drink is cut, instead it just shows him hearing the screaming and activating alarm. Alarm sound is much louder in this version. Mac's line "Get your ass over here" is changed into "Get your butt over here". After Childs burns the dog-thing, somebody in background says "Stop! I wanna see what the hell that is!" However, voice doesn't sounds like it belongs to anyone from crew. There is also extra shot of Blair watching the carnage, but it looks like this shot is taken from some other part of the movie.
  • There is alternate, almost completely different scene after autopsy of the dog-thing where Blair explains everyone what the thing is. This scene has different dialogue and extra shots of everyone in the room.
  • Extra scene where Mac shows everyone ripped clothes that Nauls found.
  • Mac's line "Screw it, i'm gonna go anyway" is cut to "I'm gonna go anyway"
  • Word "Jesus" is deleted from Mac's line "Jesus, how long do you think it has been in ice"
  • Childs "Voodoo bullshit" words are changed into "Voodoo bull stuff". Also his "motherfucker" word is changed into "monkey fella"
  • Extra scene where Bennings sees someone inside the cannel and thinks its Clark. This is actually part of his original deleted death scene.
  • Little longer scene where Blair is doing his research with thing's cells. During this scene he reads the words and lines shown on his computer out loud.
  • Alternate take of the scene where Windows is looking at two-face. Instead of close up on two-face, camera stays on Windows and we see him saying his "We gotta just burn this things" line onscreen, while in normal version he says that off screen. There is what appears to be added line where Windows says "I wish they left this thing at Norvegian's camp". This line is clearly not spoken by actor, instead it's dubbed by someone else. Also, part where blood from two-face is dripping on floor is cut short and instead scene cuts to Bennings from another angle. Different music is heard in this alternate scene.
  • Mac has extra line in beginning of the scene where he talks with Fuchs; "Is that one of Blair's notebooks?" Fuchs also has extra line in the end; "Mac, i just can't forget that Blair is great scientist."
  • Scene where Windows sees Bennings being assimilated is cut short in a way that it doesn't shows blood on the floor and Bennings covered with blood, instead camera stays on Windows who's line "Jesus Christ" is changed into "Holly smokes". Windows line "I swear the god it had a hold of him" is dubbed by someone with different voice into "I swear to you it had a hold of him". Alarm sound is not heard in this version, and screaming of Bennings-thing is barely heard, but the music is louder.
  • Garry's line "My god" line is poorly dubbed in "My gosh".
  • Scene where crew is burning the things is cut. It doesn't show parts where you can see dead bodies burning.
  • Blair's "Son of a bitch" line during his rampage is deleted. Some of his other lines are also changed.
  • Mac's "Christ" line is dubbed with some other word.
  • Scene where Doc gives Blair a shot is edited. Instead of close up on injection and arm, scene shows Blair saying his "Why am i here" line onscreen.
  • Scene where crew is talking outside of tool shed is edited differently.
  • Scene where blood is gushing out in storage is cut short and edited. First, it doesn't shows someones legs moving next to the blood, instead it cuts to "Garry! Hey you guys come here!" line. Alternate shot shows close up of Mac saying "Who's got access to it" line. Extra line is spoken by Fuchs; "Something wants to keep us from making the blood tests." Alternate shot shows close up of Childs saying "So what, is that supposed to clear him" and then one extra shot shows Windows turning around and running into the hallway. Clark's "Like hell you will" line is not heard.
  • There is what looks like to be extended or alternate shot of Mac pointing his flamethrower on Doc.
  • Scene where Mac is recording his audio message is cut. It only shows part from "One other thing..." and to "R.J. Macready,U.S. outpost number 31".
  • Alternate shot during Mac's conversation with Fuchs shows close up of Mac saying "Alright" and then it cuts to extra shot of Fuchs while additional line is heard from Mac; "Keep trying to find that new blood test".
  • Scene where Fuchs is outside after seeing someone in dark has two extra shots of left and right side of the camp and he is also heard saying "Macready" when he finds Mac's clothes in snow.
  • Windows line "Hey fuck you Palmer" is very obviously dubbed into "Hey fry you Palmer". Mac's "Alright, cut the bullshit" line is cut in funny way. It shows him getting mad and saying "Alright cut the bull" and then scene cuts and suddenly he is calm.
  • Scene where Mac and others are asking Blair did he see Fuchs is deleted, instead it shows extra shot of tow line and them finding Fuchs dead.
  • Scene where crew is refusing to let Mac back inside is edited differently.
  • Mac says extra line while he is holding flare and dynamite. It sounds like "Something set me to go to my shack". His "You asshole" line is dubbed "You jackass".
  • Scene where Norris turns into the thing is cut. It doesn't shows his head trying to get away and it cuts most of the other gore effects. However, it has two extra shots of Mac and two extra shots of crew members.
  • There is one short extra shot of Childs after Garry says that Mac is not gonna blow them up. Also, scene where Clark is shot is edited differently.
  • Blood test scene; Extra music is added (maybe "Humanity Part 1" track from original soundtrack). Close up of Nauls getting his finger cut and his reaction is cut. There is one extra shot of Mac watching Windows cutting his finger and one extra shot of Palmer watching them. Childs "It's a crock of shit" line is changed into "It is crock of stuff". First couple seconds of Nauls watching the bodies of Doc and Clark are cut. Palmer's transformation scene is cut short, but not as much as one with Norris. Extra shot of Mac trying to turn on the flamethrower is added. Palmer's death scene is cut short, while Windows death scene is deleted. There are some extra shots of camp inserted after Palmer's death scene. Extra shot of Mac looking at Nauls while testing his blood. Childs "Cut me the hell loose" line is deleted.
  • Garry's famous line "Tied to this fuckin couch" is dubbed by what appears to be someone with british accent (?) into "Tied to this stinkin couch".
  • Scene with Mac, Garry and Nauls in tools shed is cut short and edited. It doesn't shows them finding the thing's ship, but instead cuts to the scene where Nauls is watching Childs running out of the camp. Tracking shot of hallway inside the base is also cut. Mac's line ""It got back inside and blew the generator" is changed into "Blair got back inside and blew the generator". This line doesn't seems to be dubbed. Mac says extra line "It freezes inside the complex and makes sure that rescue team finds it". Extra shot of Mac after he says "But neither is that thing". Scene where tools shed is destroyed is deleted and bulldozer is crashed into the camp is cut. There is one extra shot of camp in dark.
  • Mac's "Generator room" line is cut. There is extra shot of him and others going underground and then we hear "Generator room" line. Extra music is added in the scene(maybe "Humanity Part 1" track again). Garry's line "Generator's gone" is changed or dubbed into "Generator disappeared". When Blair appears and starts killing Garry, there are few strangely dubbed lines spoken by him. He says something like: "The world, did ya" and "Nobody gets in or out of here! Nobody!" Extra shot of Blair is shown when Nauls starts walking deeper into the tunnel. Extra shot of Macready watching the floor rising up when the thing starts moving towards him. Mac's "Fuck you too" line is changed in "Blast you too".
  • So called "alternate ending" is added with final voiceover saying to watch others around cause who knows what tomorrow, tonight will bring. This ending is actually longer version of the opening scene with Norvegian dog escaping while their camp is in flames.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Thing (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Explain
Music by Billie Holiday (uncredited)
Lyrics by Arthur Herzog Jr. (uncredited)
Performed by Billie Holiday
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Good things come to those who wait
27 May 2000 | by RainfoxSee 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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