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
429 ( 263)
Top Rated Movies #160 | 3 nominations. See more awards »

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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:

Look closely at your neighbour ... Trust no-one ... They might be THE THING [UK video box] See more »

Genres:

Horror | Mystery | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The reason they had so many guns at the artic outpost was because of Cold War paranoia, especially given that the prequel film establishes a Soviet military base to be located a few miles away despite going against the Antarctic treaty (which states guns aren't permitted in Antarctica) in event that they were to be attacked by Soviets. Note the rifles Windows reaches for are locked in a cabinet that he has to break open, possibly due to the desire to save them for emergencies. As for Garry having the revolver; Garry is clearly the station manager and likely a sort of security guard as well. Being in the most hostile and isolated part of the world, it's possible for someone to have a mental breakdown and become dangerous, harming themselves or others (as Lars was initially believed to have done in the opening scene). Garry carries the sidearm likely as a precautionary measure in case any members of the research station try and attack one another, or as we saw at the beginning of the film, to defend the base against an attacking force. However, the novelization mentions that Garry also had some prior military experience, that he mainly carries the sidearm around as much as he does out of habit more than anything else. Palmer even jokes about wondering when "El Capitan was going to get a chance to use his pop gun", possibly suggesting that Garry's constant holding of his gun has occasionally been the subject of ridicule. In general, people--whether they are hunters, privateers, archeologists, explorers or whatever--harboring a particular amount of firearms (as well as medical supplies and firefighting equipment, or other special tools) in a wilderness setting, away from civilization and civil services (albeit law enforcement or friendly military) has never been particularly unusual. The volume of such means and ways typically reflects the situation/environment at hand. See more »

Goofs

During the many interior scenes where the flamethrowers was used, resulting in large fires being started and then extinguished by the characters, the rooms the fires were in would be left with thick choking & blinding smoke, yet you see the rooms are always smoke free after the fires are put out. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Computer Voice: [after MacReady inputs a move on the keyboard] Your move: bishop to knight four. My move: knight to rook three.
MacReady: Poor baby, you're startin' to lose it, aren't ya?
[inputs a move]
Computer Voice: Your move: king to rook one. My move: rook to knight six. Checkmate. Checkmate.
[MacReady angrily pours his scotch into the computer tower, frying it]
MacReady: Cheating bitch.
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Crazy Credits

The Universal logo doesn't appear until right after the movie's over See more »

Alternate Versions

The audio commentary by John Carpenter and Kurt Russell which has been included since 2008 on all home media releases (domestic and internationally) was partly reedited for pacing and to better align the spoken words to what happens on screen. Additionaly, it was partly censored, for example by removing Russell's comments about Keith David allegedly driving a stolen car in New York. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Celebrity Deathmatch: Deathbowl '98 (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Superstition
Written and Performed by Stevie Wonder
Courtesy of Motown Record Corporation
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User Reviews

 
Quality does not Age
17 May 2011 | by onewhoseesmeSee all my reviews

This is one of the classic Guy films. Horror sci fi as it was meant to be - a real story with good acting. Giving us something missing from almost all horror movies - depth and character. Providing a much needed respite from the cardboard cut outs pasted and slashed throughout, that have been filling the genre for decades. Which has given this style of movie-making it's well deserved reputation and status - of being both Invalid and Not Art. Though John Carpenter himself has been one of the staunchest purveyors of such ilk, it is my humble opinion that he did well with this one, and maybe two others.

One of the best uses of curious as a tool, it lures you in a bit unexpectedly with a somewhat whimsical, almost playful beginning. Rich in atmosphere, while stark in landscape - you find yourself as intrigued by the people as you are the monster. The remoteness of the region gives a true sense of the isolation of the real life McMurdo Sound Naval Station (as it was called when I was in the Navy) which is on the very southern tip of Ross Island in the Antarctic, and is the portal for all things going to the South Pole. I think now it's simply known as McMurdo Station, with the story taking place at a small satellite station outside (probably fictional), as McMurdo is mentioned in the film.

Kurt Russell who started acting as a kid when I was a kid has never taken Hollywood too seriously, which I've always thought was pretty cool. He's done his share of trash films over the years, but there's been a handful of roles that have more than demonstrated his caliber as one of our great actors. His version of Wyatt Earp is by far the most recognized and almost as good as George C. Scott's Patton. I said almost. He's the center of a strong cast of seasoned actors with many recognizable faces and solid performances. I watched it last night with a good friend who had never seen it, and it was just as good as when I first saw it in the theater - almost 30 yeeeaaars ago. Add it to your library, you'll watch it many times . .


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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:

$19,632,053
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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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
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