The Thing (1982) parents guide

The Thing (1982) Parent Guide

Horror comes from within.

Overall C

A shapeshifter terrorizes a Norwegian Antarctic base before arriving at an American base and creating a web of suspicion and fear.

Release date June 25, 1982

Violence D
Sexual Content A
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is The Thing (1982) rated R? The MPAA rated The Thing (1982) R

Run Time: 109 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The life of the crew on a remote US science station in Antarctica is a quiet one. Over the long, dark winter nights, there’s a lot of time for ping-pong, chess, drinking… the usual business of staving off cabin fever. This year is different. A member of the nearby Norwegian outpost destroyed their helicopter chasing a dog from their base to the US station. Unable to communicate with the man, who has already wounded one of the Americans and is firing shots around the camp, it falls to Garry (Donald Moffat) to shoot him. But that leaves more questions than answers. Why were the Norwegians so determined to track this dog?

R.J. Macready (Kurt Russell), the station’s helicopter pilot, agrees to fly a few men to the Norwegian outpost to investigate. What they find raises more questions: dead bodies, signs of a struggle, some videotapes of the research, and a big block of ice with a hole melted in the middle. What did the Norwegians find frozen, hundreds of thousands of years down in the Antarctic ice?

Back at the American camp, there are bigger issues. The dog the Norwegians chased has killed the other dogs in the kennel, and started transforming into something else before the team found it and killed it. But since this thing is a shapeshifter, there’s no way of knowing if any of the humans in the camp are really themselves. With a big storm approaching which will force the base into lockdown, the Americans are going to have to work fast to find out who is human, and who is…other.

The Thing is an impeccable psychological thriller. The close quarters and isolated location make any chance of escape impossible, forcing the characters to confront the problem. Meanwhile, the nature of that problem creates an atmosphere of overpowering paranoia, justified but in many cases unprovable, as well as sowing unease and distrust. Every character is equally likely to be a monster in disguise, and until they find it, they can’t just sit still and wait for rescue. Who knows what this thing could do if it escaped containment in the Antarctic?

If I’m being honest, this is one of my all-time favourite movies, so if I appear biased, it’s because I am. Not only does The Thing have an incredible story, it’s scored by the incomparable Ennio Morricone. Although Morricone is best known for Western scores like The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, his work in this film is absolutely perfect.

Now, this scare-fest isn’t exactly a winner for family audiences, I confess. When the horror stops being psychological, it gets very, very messy. The nature of the monster’s shapeshifting involves a good deal of body horror, rendered in slimy, gruesome detail by the spectacular practical effects work. There’s also a good bit of cussing, but given the extreme peril of the situation I’m personally quite understanding about the profanity. But trust me, once you’ve seen these gore effects, a little potty language is going to be the least of your concerns. And if you’re, say, planning an extended winter vacation in a remote cabin, you might have even more pressing concerns. Like which of your companions is who they say they are…

Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release June 25, 1982. Updated

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The Thing (1982)
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Thing (1982) rated R? The Thing (1982) is rated R by the MPAA

Violence: People are frequently shot or burned with flamethrowers. Dead bodies and tissue are seen mutating with gruesome body horror. People are cut and bitten.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: The script contains five sexual expletives, seven scatological curses, and frequent use of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are seen drinking, and on one occasion, smoking marijuana.

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A prequel, confusingly also titled The Thing, follows the Norwegian expedition. Other horror films in tight quarters include The Shining, Alien, The Lodge, Event Horizon, and 10 Cloverfield Lane. John Carpenter also directed classics like Halloween, They Live, and Prince of Darkness. Other films with incredible practical effects include Terminator 2, An American Werewolf in London, The Fly, and Pan’s Labyrinth.