The Thing (1982)

  • Review Date: October 13, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1982
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Gory fear fest is a classic the faint-hearted should skip.
  • Review Date: October 13, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1982
  • Running Time: 109 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Trust is fragile. When faced with horror and death, the instinct for survival may overwhelm our innate or learned humanity.

Positive role models

Though several of the characters, including the lead player, show some admirable qualities, for the most part, it's "every man for himself," and people under stress and in fear for their lives exhibit selfish, untrusting, and unheroic behavior.


This film is about as gruesome as movies get, though it's so over-the-top, it almost becomes campy. Body parts are ripped off people and dogs. Humans, animals, and an alien life force are continuously blown up, mutilated, burned, strangled, and shot (including one man shot in the eye). Men and dogs are transformed into aliens by stretching, melting, sprouting tentacles, and forming hideous teeth. An autopsy is performed close up as organs are taken from it. Dogs are stalked and killed by aliens, other dogs, and by humans. There are many shots of the bloody aftermath of alien attacks including a decapitated head rolling around and grisly bodies found in grotesque positions. Dark, suspenseful music builds to scene after scene of sudden scary assaults.

Not applicable

Occasional use of swearing and obscenities, from "hell," "damn," "ass" to "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," and "motherf--ker".


J & B Scotch whiskey, Chevron.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Leading character uses alcohol as a crutch in several scenes. Other players drink as the tension increases. One man smokes marijuana.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Isolated in Antarctica, the scientists in a research facility are under assault from alien creatures released after a long burial in the icy terrain. As one by one, the men meet horrific ends, it's an increasingly terrifying and violent battle for survival.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 25, 1982
DVD release date:September 25, 2011
Cast:Keith David, Kurt Russell, Richard Dysart
Director:John Carpenter
Studio:Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong, bloody violence and gore, grisly and disturbing images, some language and drug use

This review of The Thing (1982) was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written bydavyborn November 10, 2011

Nauseatingly effective in it's power to disturb, but could even disturb some parents

John carpenters classic original horror movie, The Thing, is as effective now as it was when it premiered into theaters in the summer of 1982. Sure, the movie flopped and the critics panned it and dismissed it promptly, but over the years it has maintained a strong cult following, which I am a member of, and am still proud of that fact (maybe I should get a life!) Now, obviously, I won't have to repeat this twice, because I am going to make this very clear: This is in absolutely no way what so ever, a movie for children! There are so many extremely gruesome and explicitly gory images that I can't even count them all or keep track of them all! Sure, the effects are fairly dated, because, again, it came out in 1982, but, surprisingly, it still has the power to disturb the heck out of you, and as that, this movie is a perfect barf bag movie. Also, there is a bit of profanity including f--k, sh-t, crap, d-mn, ass and more. So check it out if our a big Carpenter fan, but as for the gore, you have been warned.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bybanana man13 October 14, 2011

boo didnt scare me in sorta gory awesome movie

great movie a couple gory scenes
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 13 years old Written byfangningsheng October 23, 2011

Surprisingly gory for the time period

The Thing is a great horror film, but is extaordinarily gory, especially for when it was made. Lots of disturbing imagery here, with limbs torn off, human imitating aliens being torched by flamethrowers, bodys tearing apart graphically to reveal aliens inside, several shootings, and much more. The aliens in The Thing are gruesome, with lots of gross tentacles and teeth. The only way to describe them would be a mass of red flesh with tentacles and teeth. There is also strong language, and one character frequently drinks whiskey. It's really good, though. Suggested MPAA rating: R for strong graphic creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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