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.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

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

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byAzulDemonio July 27, 2014


The Thing is not something that any child under the age of 13 should have the horror of watching, because this film is just straight out gore. Not the ridiculous torture gore that films like Saw release every halloween, but disturbing, alien gore. In general this is a real classic for the sci-fi horror genre, and is really good, but the gruesome imagery that comes from the strange, alien creature trying to change its body shape that would hit anyone of a faint heart hard. For anyone who's even mildly sheltered from things like this, I'd recommend watching some of the easier horror films before getting into this, because its not just gore for no particular reason, its gore that is genuinely horrifying and scary.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 9 years old June 6, 2013

This is not scary at all

Really? This movie is violent but its not scary at all I saw it when I was 6.6.
Parent 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 sensitive to over the top gore would not want to see, the language is infrequent but there is a couple uses of F--k and other moderate swear words. The Thing is about a group of people in Antarctica who discover an alien life form that imitates people and animals that it comes in contact with, brutally ripping apart its host in the process. So overall, the thing is a top notch horror movie that should be OK for ages 14 and up, as long as they aren't sensitive to violence
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools