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The Thing

4.6 36
Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter


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John Carpenter's The Thing is both a remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 film of the same name and a re-adaptation of the John W. Campbell Jr. story "Who Goes There?" on which it was based. Carpenter's film is more faithful to Campbell's story than Hawks' version and also substantially more reliant on special effects, provided in abundance by a team of over 40


John Carpenter's The Thing is both a remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 film of the same name and a re-adaptation of the John W. Campbell Jr. story "Who Goes There?" on which it was based. Carpenter's film is more faithful to Campbell's story than Hawks' version and also substantially more reliant on special effects, provided in abundance by a team of over 40 technicians, including veteran creature-effects artists Rob Bottin and Stan Winston. The film opens enigmatically with a Siberian Husky running through the Antarctic tundra, chased by two men in a helicopter firing at it from above. Even after the dog finds shelter at an American research outpost, the men in the helicopter (Norwegians from an outpost nearby) land and keep shooting. One of the Norwegians drops a grenade and blows himself and the helicopter to pieces; the other is shot dead in the snow by Garry (Donald Moffat), the American outpost captain. American helicopter pilot MacReady (Kurt Russell, fresh from Carpenter's Escape From New York) and camp doctor Copper (Richard Dysart) fly off to find the Norwegian base and discover some pretty strange goings-on. The base is in ruins, and the only occupants are a man frozen to a chair (having cut his own throat) and the burned remains of what could be one man or several men. In a side room, Copper and MacReady find a coffin-like block of ice from which something has been recently cut. That night at the American base, the Husky changes into the Thing, and the Americans learn first-hand that the creature has the ability to mutate into anything it kills. For the rest of the film the men fight a losing (and very gory) battle against it, never knowing if one of their own dwindling number is the Thing in disguise. Though resurrected as a cult favorite, The Thing failed at the box office during its initial run, possibly because of its release just two weeks after Steven Spielberg's warmly received E.T.The Extra-Terrestrial. Along with Ridley Scott's futuristic Alien, The Thing helped stimulate a new wave of sci-fi horror films in which action and special effects wizardry were often seen as ends in themselves.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Upon its theatrical release in 1982, John Carpenter's reworking of the 1951 sci-fi classic The Thing from Another World took a drubbing from some outspoken genre devotees who thought it deviated too much from the original and sported unnecessarily gross special effects. In fact, writer-director Carpenter deliberately avoided paying obeisance to Christian Nyby's 1951 film and instead went back to the source material, John W. Campbell's 1938 novella "Who Goes There?" for inspiration. He retained the story's central conceit, making the alien a shape-shifter capable of perfectly mimicking any life form it ingests. The basic premise was the same: a research team working in a remote Antarctic outpost comes across the body of a frozen alien and brings it back to the base, where the creature thaws out and begins killing the men one by one. Kurt Russell, who had felicitously teamed with Carpenter on the preceding year's Escape from New York, is rather subdued as the fatalistic hero R. J. MacReady. The supporting performances of Wilford Brimley, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, and T. K. Carter are similarly restrained and lend believability to a patently unbelievable situation. The special effects, while certainly on the repulsive side, are extraordinarily convincing by 1982 standards, although they won't seem quite as impressive to younger viewers weaned on the CGI effects of the last decade. In retrospect, Carpenter's The Thing was a lot better than some of us thought, and it has taken its place among the masterworks of sci-fi cinema. This Collector's Edition includes a commentary by Carpenter and Russell, a making-of documentary titled "Terror Takes Shape," and a host of extras including work-in-progress special effects footage, conceptual art and storyboards, and even some stop-motion animation that didn't make the movie's final cut.
All Movie Guide - Jeremy Wheeler
John Carpenter's remake of the 1950s monster film is a grotesque exercise in how to scare the living socks off of even the most jaded viewer. Cold, claustrophobic, and expertly realized, The Thing creeps under your skin and doesn't let up until the last credit rolls. Carpenter is at the top of his game as he flexes his horror muscles once again and arguably surpasses original with an expertly crafted film that continues to ask questions of its audience decades later. Equally worthy of praise is the amazing work of the still young FX guru Rob Bottin. With free reign to let his imagination run as wild as he wanted, Bottin (fresh off of The Howling) spent a little over a year living at Universal's back-lot creating some of the most horrific images audiences had ever seen. The outrageously surreal and bloody work he created (with the brief help of another young lad named Stan Winston) has been a benchmark for practical makeup effects since its release in 1982. The Thing wouldn't be the same without the palpable dread provided by Dean Cundey coldly controlled camerawork and Ennio Morricone's Carpenter-esque score thumping in the background. Apart from its exceptionally crafted aesthetics, the note-perfect ensemble goes a long way to sell this menacing tale. From the chilling Blair (Wilford Brimley) to the cool of Childs (Carpenter fave Keith David), these are meaty characters facing a no-win situation -- with Kurt Russell as MacReady leading the motley crew. Russell is a mean quiet machine as he and Carpenter create another iconic hero to rule over the annals of cinema. Famously, The Thing flopped at the box office against the feel-good alternative - a little film called ET - yet the bleak picture found its real audience - and near-universal reverence - in the years that followed.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
[Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital Stereo]

Special Features

John Carpenter's The Thing: Terror takes shape, an 80-minute original documentary featuring interviews with John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, special effects make-up designer Rob Bottin, legendary matte artist Albert Whitlock, plus other members of the cast, crew and special effects team; Feature commentary with Kurt Russell and director John Carpenter; Outtakes from the film; Storyboards and conceptual art; Behind-the-scenes photos; And much more!

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kurt Russell MacReady
Wilford Brimley Blair
T.K. Carter Nauls
David Clennon Palmer
Keith David Childs
Richard Dysart Dr. Copper
Charles Hallahan Norris
Peter Maloney Bennings
Richard Masur Clark
Joel Polis Fuchs
Norbert Weisser Norwegian
Larry Franco Norwegian Passenger with Rifle
Tony Cecere Actor
Kent Hays Actor
Larry Holt Actor
Melvin Jones Actor
Eric Mansker Actor
Denver Mattson Actor
Donald Moffat Garry
Clint Rowe Actor
Thomas G. Waites Windows
Rock Walker Actor
Jerry Wills Actor
Nate Irwin Helicopter Pilot
William Zeman Pilot

Technical Credits
John Carpenter Director,Screenwriter
Roy Arbogast Special Effects
Rob Bottin Makeup Special Effects
Thomas D. Causey Sound/Sound Designer
Michael A. Clifford Special Effects
Stuart Cohen Co-producer
Dean Cundey Cinematographer
David Foster Producer
John M. Dwyer Set Decoration/Design
Larry Franco Associate Producer,Asst. Director
Mick Garris Screenwriter
Bill Lancaster Screenwriter
Burt Lancaster Screenwriter
Henry Larrecq Art Director
John J. Lloyd Production Designer
Ennio Morricone Score Composer
Graeme Murray Set Decoration/Design
Todd Ramsay Editor
Wilbur Stark Executive Producer
Raymond Stella Camera Operator
Lawrence Turman Producer
Albert J. Whitlock Special Effects


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The Thing 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a Sci-Fi fan, I'm sorry to say I'd never seen this until the prequel was made. This was made in the early 80's and some modern movies still have worse special affects. For the time it was made, these were obviously cutting edge. This shape shifting alien carnivore is amazing. It consumes it's prey, copy's it completely, then hides inside it's new appearance. It copy's mind as well as body. Wherever the Thing came from originally is never explained. Was it piloting the ship? Or did the ship crash because it ate the original crew? Either way it had been frozen for thousands of years, and was still a viable life form. The fear and paranoia were intense. Most of the movie nobody could tell who was human, and who wasn't. The test that finally revealed who was what was graphically demonstrative. After that the remaining humans have a powerful final battle, and sacrifice their lives to keep the Thing from ever escaping. For Sci-Fi and Horror, this is a classic.
Sgt_Hulka More than 1 year ago
The original 1951 flick was a classic, but Carpenter made his own incredible version. Definately worth adding to your collection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carpenter's remake is easily the best film version of "The Thing", surpassing even that of the 2011 prequel to this film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a drooling fiend for horror/science fiction movies and have been a huge fan of John Carpenter movies ever since he scared me with Halloween over 16 years ago. Carpenter's remake of The Thing is no doubt the most creepiest movie I've ever sank my fangs into. It's got all the great elements for a terrific movie: Great director, perfect cast, awesome special effects, creepy story and gripping plot, and a horrific creature lurking in the Antartic. What more could one ask for? Carpenter has worked so well with Kurt Russell. Russell plays MacReady, a helicoptor pilot, who is forced to witness gruesome events when an alien disguised as a dog enters the compound of the research facility. We soon learn that this dog is much more than meets the eye when it begins shapshifting and bares its ugly side. The research team discover that this creature has the uncanny ability to become its host once it's killed. It's a game of who's really who? Kurt Russell does an excellent job and plays the leading character perfectly as he combats the monster. Overall, this creepy movie is a 2 tumbs-up type of movie, one which will keep you up late at night. The DVD version has about ninty minutes of interviews with Carpenter, Russell, and various other people who worked on the film. Also included are numerous pictures of the site locations and actors. This is a MUST SEE science fiction film. Midway through the movie you'll be wondering if your spouse is really who he or she is supposed to be. The movie's end is very eerie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent movie for lovers of the destruction of the human anatomy. But also a good movie in its own right, focusing on humanities wild side. In the world of the movie no-one can be trusted; it is every man for themselves. They need to be on their vigil for the very imaginative 'thing' means buisness, needing their bodies for its own survival. It takes the saying 'I want your body' to the extreme, and doesn't seem at all interested in conforming to ettiquette, in particular, the rules and regs of eating at the dining room table.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An intense, white knuckle, masterpiece. Shows why movie theaters are can be the scariest places on earth. Not appreciated when it was first released it has earned (rightly so) a cult following and makes you wonder what happened to director John Carpenter that he has not made any movies lately that come close to this lever of horror mastery. Its not what 'The Thing' does but who might be 'The Thing' that matters. Better than 'Invasion of the body snatchers'.
redbaron1234 More than 1 year ago
You cannot find a horror film made today that is any where near as scary as this film. FIlms like this are hard to ignore. These older horror films may have some cheesy looking special effects, but, they are actually gory. Some of the horror films that come out today, I am ashamed to watch them, because they are just awful. I know this movie is old, but, you must see this film. You will not be disappointed.
Wade1000 More than 1 year ago
Usually remakes are quite inferior. John Carpenter's The Thing is superior over the 1951 version. The Thing is based on the story, Who Goes There, by John W Campbell. It is able a shape-shifting alien terrorizing some humans in Anarctica. This is what Carpenter goes by. The classic is typical of 50's alien films. The visitor is humanoid, there's a romantic couple, no minorities, a happy ending where mankind is always victorious, and a prophetic message. 1982's version is more thrilling with no gore or nudity & little profanity. The alien certainly lives up to it's name. The Thing is fun to watch because you don't know who the alien is disguised as. It's dog form was very convincing. There should be a sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
get ready for some pretty confronting scenes! if you like watching people come apart at the seams: melt, contort, vomit up their intestines, convulse into a spray of brains and meat, metamorphosis with wolves, have their heads grow legs and walk off pissed off, if you like watching the human form breaking down into its basic parts, if you think it's pretty cool to have your intestines start thrashing about violently, then you'll like this movie. Kurt Russell is the beauty that contrasts the horror, playing as he does a convincing role as the helicopter pilot/flame thrower operator. The other shining light to the movie is the atmosphere: great use of lights, and space to compell the viewer to suspend disbelief. The claustrophobic spaces, the moody interiors, contrasted with the deep space of the Antarctic wilderness, make for a convincing feel. Don't be put off by the age of the movie: the fx are still reasonable, they still chill me, and make me laugh because of their sheer violence. watch this movie, even if you hate the horror genre
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie focuses on the friendship/trust factor. And the fact that everyone trusts everyone makes it hard, just ask Blair. It's an awesome movie with a great cast and if you like to pick pick who's who try at this if you've never seen it before.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is what horror movies are all about. It is scary, entertaining, and intense. It is also a great movie period. It reaches a level of intensity and terror that few movies I have seen have. The visual style is breathtaking. The lighting and sets and use of the camera is masterful. The cast is brilliant. There is not a weak performance in the bunch. The stand out here is obviously Kurt Russell as the alcoholic pilot MacReady who is a born leader. Kurt takes complete command of the role and the movie. As Kurt becomes increasingly paranoid we are right there with him. By the end we are completely terrified for his survival and in his corner to kick The Thing's a$$. It is truly among the very best and most absolutely believable perormances in horror history. John Carpenter has achieved something truly amazing and mesmerizing. This, in my opinion, is his finest hour behind the camera. The Thing is a stomache churning, paranioa inducing, journey that is worthy of every fan it has and so many more that will experience it for themselves in the future.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great horror movie. The gore fx was impressive.Definetly a good movie for horror fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw this movie in 1983, i was 10 years old. i think i slept with my parents after that until i was 12!!! It scared the daylights out of me, thats why i love it today and still watch it when i get a chance. Anyone that loves horror and gore will with out a doubt be entertained by this movie. Ive havent seen such originality since. It will keep you guessing as you grip the edge of your seat waiting to see who is the ''THING'. you find yourself sympathising with the characters as they struggle to fight a losing battle and second guess and point fingers at their friends. ''everybody watch! whoever your with'' John Carpenter's finest!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just got this movie a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. I love scary and horror movies so this movie just took me away. I was surprised at some points but it was obvious at others of who the Thing was. If you like scary, horror, and gore you'll like this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Best movie I've ever seen by far. Great acting and even better special effects. I'm still amazed that the did that back then! GO BUY IT!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frame by frame, it is simply the best alien invation flick ever made.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent horror/sci fi movie in every way. Partically impressive was the make-up/special effects created with out the help of computer graphics.This gives the ''thing'' more dimension in appearance.Computer generated creatures tend to look flat and thus FAKE.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a good movie if you like horror sci-fi movies. I give it a 5 star rating because of the effects and sound in the movie. Im not going to tell you any of the parts you will just have to see for your self. Its a great movie, very scary and two thumbs up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw it again for the first time since 1984. Beautiful! Visually brilliant and a fantastic cast acting out a very believable (hence scary) story. Nerds like me saw the original Howard hawks movie and when you hear the story about going back to the short story the movie was based on, it makes it all the more interesting. It is also a treat to see some very well known actors in the movie. For instance, we have the crooked U.S. President from ''Clear and Present Danger'' and the oatmeal guy, Wilford Brimley as the doc who turns out to be....
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone who is a sci-fi fan should see this title. Not giving anything else away. Brilliant!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
ON MY TOP 10 HORROR/SCI-FI LIST. Some viewers of this movie have had issues with the level of gore... yes, there is a lot. But it can readily be argued that the gore is truly integral with the needed level of terror that the movie wants to convey - we must feel the terror and disgust and fear of those men trapped at that frigid site. The movie is so sharply edited and tightly plotted - no extraneous filler in this story. Reminded me of the old classic (1934) all-male THE LOST PATROL, just a bunch of men in a difficult life-or-death situation - no distracting romance and 'relationship' issues here. Also, have you ever read Stephen King's PET SEMATARY? The Thing reminds me of it, in how it is so lean, and focused, and intense - unlike King's more expansive and thick novels. See if you can guess the voice of the female that is heard over the radio. ;-)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first watched this Carpenter classic when the PS2 game was coming out and fell in love with it. I love this movie it's just awsome, that's all I have to say.
Guest More than 1 year ago