The Thing (1982)

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Thing (1982) Movie Poster Image
Gory fear fest is a classic the faint-hearted should skip.
  • R
  • 1982
  • 109 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 30 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & representations

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.

Violence

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.

Sex
Language

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

Consumerism

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.

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.

User Reviews

Adult Written byoscar11111 January 25, 2016

Awesome

Its a fantastic movie that is not a scary or gory as you may think. Definitely a classic and a must-see!
Adult Written bycharles daniels March 24, 2013

Good movie

The Thing is an outstanding horror film and should be appropriate for ages 14 and up. There is no sexual content, the film is pretty gruesome and any one who is... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byDrSoup007 January 31, 2016

The Thing has the most perfect execution of terror and bone chilling ambiance.

This has instantly become one of my favorite horror movies, and probably one of my favorites of all time. The Thing has the most perfect execution of terror and... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byXtreme101 October 13, 2015

John Carpenter Cult Classic Is Frickin' Scary!

John Carpenter's The Thing is a terrifying experience. A feat that it accomplishes only too well at some points that it stops being a fun mystery and inste... Continue reading

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.

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?

Movie details

For kids who love scares

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