115. The Thing (1982)

Leonard Maltin's Rating :
Should be :

IMDB Rating : 8.2

Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 79% with critics, 92% with audience

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950s take, John Carpenter's The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.

Leonard says in his review : "Remake of 1951 film about Antarctic outpost terrorized by an alien organism. More faithful to the original story, but nonstop parade of slimy, repulsive special effects turns this into a freak show and drowns most of the suspense.."

Leonard doesn't seem to appreciate John Carpenter. Escape From New York (7.2 on IMDB - Leonard 2 stars), Big Trouble in Little China (7.3 on IMDB - Leonard 1 1/2 stars), and The Thing (8.2 on IMDB - Leonard 1 1/2 stars). Here are three iconic, cult films, which the audience seems to love, but Leonard just doesn't think anyone should see them. Maybe it's Kurt Russell that Leonard doesn't like.

When Slant magazine did a feature on the top 100 Horror films of all time no other director had more films than John Carpenter. He had :
# 91 The Fog (1980) Leonard 2 1/2 stars)
# 89 In the Mouth of Madness (1994) (Leonard 2 1/2 stars)
#80 They Live (1988) (Leonard 2 stars)
#29 Halloween (1978) (Leonard 2 stars)
#9 The Thing (1982) (Leonard 1 1/2 stars)

It's pretty obvious Leonard has no love for horror, and doesn't think you should either.

In the Slant article it said of The Thing: "Infection transfers seamlessly between organisms in John Carpenter's exploration of paranoia, making detection impossible until it's too late. So how does one survive such an onslaught when your body might already be rotting from the inside out? Kurt Russell and company grapple with this mortal question throughout, and their reactions run the gauntlet, from violent to compassionate and beyond. The film's extreme icy setting only forces these roughnecks closer together in confined interiors, where the air is just warm enough for a supernatural host to take root and never let go. It's a perfect cinematic Petri dish for our greatest fears to flourish and evolve."

Leonard felt the special effects drowned out the suspense, but I totally disagree. The movie was as suspenseful as the original, and it reveled in its "repulsive special effects. I'm not a big horror fan, but everything in this movie worked for me.

I'm a big fan of the original, The Thing from Another World (1951), and in general I am against remakes of really good movies, but this remake was very well done and is well worth seeing.


  1. I think he likes 70s Carpenter. He gave Halloween 3 stars, Assault on Precinct 13 3 and a half stars, and rated his 2 TV Movies ‘Above Average’ before omitting TV movies from his guide.

  2. To be fair, many reviewers panned the Thing when it came out, including Roger Ebert, who is often cited to be the “greatest film critic of all time”.