The Thing (1982)



Gory fear fest is a classic the faint-hearted should skip.
Popular with kids
  • 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.

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

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


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.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

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 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 instead just feels negatively scary. But if pushing-the-envolope scary is your cup of tea, then go at it. The whole movie feels like this: One scene is kind of boring or uninteresting, while the next is intriguing, scary, and suspenseful. But, credit does have to be given to the Direction. John Carpenter tries to squeeze every last bit of suspense out of every scene. Also to Kurt Russell, who plays the main character, is confident enough that you can rely on him to not be "The Thing". And finally, for better or for worse, the makeup and animatronics are astounding and creative at the same exact time. They are so good that they lead to the "So scary it isn't fun anymore" point I made earlier. As for what is inappropriate, there is a ton of violence and gore. I cannot think of another movie that is more violent or gory. It's enough to make the faint of heart puke. Secondly, the language. There are a few uses of F--k but it's all but overshadowedt by all the violence and gore. Overall, this is a love it or hate it film, and I just happen to be in the middle.
Kid, 11 years old August 20, 2015

Awesome Gory Movie Is One Kids Should Skip

The Thing is a very good violent horror gore fest. Their is no sexual content in this movie. People barely smoke. Their is a little bit of alcohol but no drugs. It is very violent. This is probably the goriest movie I ever seen. The gore is the problem of the movie. Their is lots of language too.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byeazy__breezy May 29, 2015

Not bad for teens, there is a lot worse stuff

Saying this movie is appropriate for 12 and up is stupid. But saying it is also inappropriate for 14 and under is stupid too. In reality, its iffy for anyone under 14. Anyone who is bothered by gore shouldn't watch, because it is very gory, even if it looks outdated, the gore is still well, gory. Only a small amount of f-words. Let your teen watch
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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

Star Wars Guide