A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is graphically violent, gory, grisly, and frightening, though it's so over-the-top and dated that the gore is almost campy. Humans and dogs are the victims of monstrous alien beings attempting to destroy them. They are hideously ugly creatures with slimy tentacles, pulsing muscles, jagged teeth, and screeching howls. They imitate other life forms and take over living beings suddenly, turning a beautiful dog into a raving, slathering beast, or a man into a giant, multi-limbed, oozing mass of pus and muscle. The movie has occasional swearing ("f--k," "ass," "d--k," "s--t,") and the leading man drinks whiskey straight from a bottle several times, others drink occasionally, and one character smokes a marijuana cigarette.
What's the story?
Is it any good?
Made in 1982, before the explosion of digital filmmaking, this iconic combination of horror and science fiction is often considered a landmark achievement by famed horror director John Carpenter.
By today's standard, some of the grisly effects and the grotesque mounds of tentacles, teeth, and muscle that serve as the monster, seem oddly tame, though they would still be highly disturbing for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the use of frequent use of violence and gore in this film. What do you think the filmmaker's purpose was?
Were the scariest moments because of onscreen mayhem or because of suspense-filled moments when you didn't know what was going to happen? Describe your feelings about and reactions to each type of "horror." Why do people like to be scared?
Did the ending surprise you? Did you find yourself projecting what might have happened afterwards? Is that projection a measure of a movie's success?
How does this version compare to the more modern one?
- In theaters: June 25, 1982
- On DVD or streaming: September 25, 2011
- Cast: Keith David, Kurt Russell, Richard Dysart
- Director: John Carpenter
- Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong, bloody violence and gore, grisly and disturbing images, some language and drug use
For kids who love scares
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.