The Thing (1982 film)

The Thing
= A human silhouette wearing a thick coat and hood stands against a white background. Beams of white emanate from the hood opening, obscuring its identity.
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed byJohn Carpenter
Produced by
Screenplay byBill Lancaster
Based onWho Goes There?
by John W. Campbell Jr.
StarringKurt Russell
Music byEnnio Morricone
CinematographyDean Cundey
Edited byTodd Ramsay
Production
company
The Turman-Foster Company
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • June 25, 1982 (1982-06-25)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$15 million
Box office$19.6 million (North America)

The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter and written by Bill Lancaster. Based on the 1938 John W. Campbell Jr. novella Who Goes There?, it tells the story of a group of American researchers in Antarctica who encounter the eponymous "Thing", a parasitic extraterrestrial life-form that assimilates, then imitates other organisms. The group is overcome by paranoia and conflict as they learn that they can no longer trust each other and that any one of them could be the Thing. The film stars Kurt Russell as the team's helicopter pilot, R.J. MacReady, and features A. Wilford Brimley, T. K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis, and Thomas Waites in supporting roles.

Production began in the mid-1970s as a faithful adaptation of the novella, following 1951's popular The Thing from Another World. The Thing went through several directors and writers, each with different ideas on how to approach the story. Filming lasted roughly 12 weeks, beginning in August 1981, and took place on refrigerated sets in Los Angeles as well as in Juneau, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia. Of the film's $15 million budget, $1.5 million was spent on Rob Bottin's creature effects, a mixture of chemicals, food products, rubber, and mechanical parts turned by his large team into an alien capable of taking on any form.

The Thing was released in 1982 to very negative reviews. It was described as "instant junk", "a wretched excess", and proposed as the most hated film of all time.[1] Reviews both praised the special effects achievements and criticized their visual repulsiveness, while others focused on poor characterization. The film earned $19.6 million during its theatrical run. Many reasons have been cited for its failure to impress audiences: competition from films such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which offered an optimistic take on alien visitation; a summer that had been filled with successful science fiction and fantasy films; and an audience, living through a recession, diametrically opposed to The Thing's nihilistic tone.

The film found an audience when released on home video and television. In the years since, it has been reappraised as one of the best science fiction or horror films ever made, and has gained a cult following. Filmmakers have noted its influence on their work, and it has been referred to in other media such as television and video games. The Thing has spawned a variety of merchandise, including a 1982 novelization, haunted houses, board games, and sequels in comic books, a video game of the same name, and a 2011 prequel film of the same name.

Plot

Actor Role
Kurt Russell     R. J. MacReady
A. Wilford Brimley Blair
T. K. Carter Nauls
David Clennon Palmer
Keith David Childs
Richard Dysart Dr. Copper
Charles Hallahan Norris
Peter Maloney George Bennings
Richard Masur Clark
Donald Moffat Garry
Joel Polis Fuchs
Thomas Waites Windows

In Antarctica, a Norwegian helicopter pursues a sled dog to an American research station. The Americans witness a Norwegian accidentally blow up the helicopter and the pilot. The Norwegian fires a rifle and shouts at the Americans, but they cannot understand him and he is shot dead in self-defense by station commander Garry. The American helicopter pilot, R.J. MacReady, and Dr. Copper leave to investigate the Norwegian base. Among the charred ruins and frozen corpses, they find the burned remains of a malformed humanoid which they recover to the American station. Their biologist, Blair, performs autopsies on the remains and finds a normal set of human organs.

Clark kennels the sled dog, and it soon metamorphoses and absorbs the station dogs. This disturbance alerts the team and Childs uses a flamethrower to incinerate the creature. Blair autopsies the new creature and learns that it can perfectly imitate other organisms. Recovered Norwegian data leads the Americans to a large excavation site containing a partially buried alien spacecraft, and a smaller, human-sized dig site. Norris estimates that the alien ship has been buried for at least 100,000 years. Blair grows paranoid that the creature could assimilate all life on Earth in a matter of three years. The station implements controls to reduce the risk of assimilation.

The "dead", malformed humanoid creature assimilates an isolated Bennings, but Windows interrupts the process and MacReady burns the Bennings-Thing. Blair sabotages all the vehicles, kills the remaining sled dogs, and destroys the radio to prevent escape. The team imprison him in a tool shed. Copper suggests a test to compare each member's blood against uncontaminated blood held in storage, but after learning that the blood stores have been destroyed, the men lose faith in Garry, and MacReady takes command.

MacReady, Windows and Nauls find Fuchs's burnt corpse and surmise he committed suicide to avoid assimilation. Windows returns to base while MacReady and Nauls investigate MacReady's shack. On their return, Nauls abandons MacReady in a snowstorm, believing he has been assimilated after finding his torn clothes in the shack. The team debate whether to allow MacReady inside, but he breaks in and holds the group at bay with dynamite. During the encounter, Norris appears to suffer a heart attack.

As Copper attempts to defibrillate Norris, his chest transforms into a large mouth and bites off Copper's arms, killing him. MacReady incinerates the Norris-Thing, but its head separates from the body and attempts to escape before also being burnt. MacReady is forced to kill Clark in self-defense when the latter lunges at him from behind with a knife. He hypothesizes that the Norris-Thing's head demonstrated that every part of the Thing is an individual life form with its own survival instinct. He sequentially tests blood samples with a heated piece of wire. Everyone passes the test except Palmer, whose blood jumps from the heat. Palmer transforms and infects Windows, forcing MacReady to burn them both.

Childs is left on guard while the others go to test Blair. They find that Blair has escaped, and has been using vehicle components to assemble a small spacecraft. On their return, Childs is missing and the power generator is destroyed. MacReady speculates that the Thing intends to return to hibernation until a rescue team arrives. MacReady, Garry, and Nauls decide to detonate the entire station to destroy the Thing. As they set explosives, Blair kills Garry and Nauls disappears. Blair transforms into an enormous creature and destroys the detonator. MacReady triggers the explosives using a stick of dynamite, destroying the base.

MacReady sits nearby as the station burns. Childs returns, saying he became lost in the storm while pursuing Blair. Exhausted and slowly freezing to death, they acknowledge the futility of their distrust and MacReady passes Childs a bottle.

Other Languages
беларуская: Нешта (фільм, 1982)
български: Нещото (филм, 1982)
bosanski: Stvor (1982)
català: The Thing
Ελληνικά: The Thing
hrvatski: Stvor (1982.)
Bahasa Indonesia: The Thing (film 1982)
македонски: Нешто (филм, 1982)
Bahasa Melayu: The Thing (filem 1982)
Nederlands: The Thing
português: The Thing (1982)
Simple English: The Thing (1982 movie)
slovenčina: Vec (film)
српски / srpski: Створ
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: The Thing (film, 1982)
svenska: The Thing
Türkçe: Şey (film)
українська: Щось (фільм, 1982)
Tiếng Việt: The Thing (phim 1982)