The Thing (1982)

the thing poster 1982 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Mostly amazing effects, smart story

A few stop-motion effects look dated

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Thing

Studio: Universal

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): June 25, 1982

MPAA Rating: R

the thing 1982 ice block macready kurt russell richard dysart

Well this can’t be good

The arrival of a sled dog being pursued by a team of Norwegians leaves nothing but mysteries for an American research station in Antarctica when the Norwegians are accidentally killed.  Travelling to the Norwegian post, the crew discovers that the Norwegians found something in the ice and the dog and now anyone at the research station might not be who they say they are.  Something is among them and it can mimic their bodies, voices, and emotions…the thing is hungry and needs to get out of the cold…and the warmest place is man!

Directed by John Carpenter, The Thing is an adaptation of the 1938 short story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr. that was originally published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1938 and was previously adapted as The Thing from Another World in 1951.  The film underperformed at the box office and was initially panned by many critics.  The film has been reevaluated over the years and is considered a science-fiction and horror classic.  The film received a Razzie nomination for Worst Musical Score.

I loved The Thing.  It was one of those early horror movies I was allowed to see, and I watched it multiple times.  The Thing was not only a victim of critics but timing with a clogged summer movie year featuring Poltergeist, E.T., Blade Runner, and Tron all being released around it.  The Thing is a classic.

the thing dog monster

Remember to spay or neuter your alien invader

Part of the criticism of the film (initially) was the plot.  It is dark and relatively hopeless.  The characters are being picked off one-by-one, and instead of joining together, they all turn on each other.  The horror continues to mount until the ending of the film (which I admit does get a little garbled involving the space ship, etc.), but the very end of the film has an ambiguous stand-off that isn’t going to end well for either character.  It is dark and dismal, and it is a great ride to get there filled with a script built along racheting up the tension.

The movie is also an oddity in that it features an all-male cast.  The Thing from Another World featured Margaret Sheridan as the damsel in distress, but in The Thing it is realistically for the time an all-male crew.  Kurt Russell is great as MacReady and he is backed up by a great supporting cast which is largely against him the entire time (including his great antagonistic relationship with Keith David as Childs).  There are so many great actors (mostly supporting actors), and it is a shame that so many get picked off so quickly.  Charles Hallahan also gets bonus credit for having the most gruesome transformation when the Thing is revealed during a cardiac arrest.

the thing charles hallahan norris monster

If you make that face, it might freeze that way…

Though I actually enjoy the story and cast, The Thing is largely boosted by the amazing visual effects.  They are practical effects in that computer animation wasn’t part of the process, but the film used lots of different models and techniques to bring the creatures to life.  The horror of The Thing is that creatures can take any form and the Rob Bottin designs allow this.  I do think the last “Thing” is a bit of a letdown in comparison to some of the other monsters of the movie, but it still works.

The Thing is a must see for fans of horror and fans of sci-fi.  It is relentless and sticks with you.  The ideas in the film and the uniqueness of the movie make it stand out among other horror films and shows that Carpenter really knows how to hit the horror.  The film was followed by a video game sequel in 2002 called The Thing and prequel film called The Thing in 2011 (which features the story of the Norwegians).

Related Links:

The Thing from Another World (1951)

The Thing (2011)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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