The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a parasitic extraterrestrial lifeform that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them.
A Norwegian helicopter pursues an Alaskan malamute to an American Antarctic research station. As the Americans run out, the helicopter lands. One Norwegian accidentally drops a thermite charge, destroying the helicopter and pilot. A rifleman shoots at the dog with a rifle, grazing George Bennings, one of the researchers, in the leg until Lt. Garry, the station commander, interprets his actions as hostile and shoots him dead. The team decides to send helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady and Dr. Copper to the Norwegian camp for answers, but find only a charred ruin, with the body of a man who committed suicide and a large block of ice with a hollowed cavity.
Outside they discover the burned remains of a humanoid corpse with two faces. "Mac" and Doc Copper return with the humanoid corpse, where their biologist, Blair, performs an autopsy, finding a normal set of human internal organs. Clark kennels the Malamute with the station's sled dogs; the dog itself transforms into a hideous creature and begins to attack the other dogs. MacReady pulls the fire alarm when he hears the commotion, and calls for a flamethrower. Childs incinerates the creature, and Blair does another autopsy, which leads him to believe the creature is capable of perfectly imitating other life forms. The Norwegians' records lead the team to a crater containing a flying saucer and a hole left by the block of ice they suspect the creature came from.
Blair becomes suspicious of the others and withdraws, calculating that if the alien escapes to a civilized area, all life on Earth will be assimilated in a few years. Fuchs secretly tells MacReady that he is worried about Blair, and that according to Blair's journal, the creature's "dead" remains are still active on a cellular level. They warn everyone not to share food or drink, and to avoid being alone with the creature, which has been brought into a storeroom. Bennings is assimilated by the creature but he is caught outside by the team before his metamorphosis is complete, and MacReady burns him to death before he can escape. They realize Blair is conspicuously absent, just before MacReady sees him running inside.
They discover he has wrecked all the transports and killed the remaining sled dogs to prevent the alien from escaping. The team subdue him as he is destroying the radio, and then lock him in an isolated tool shed. Determined to learn who is infected, they discover the blood stores have been sabotaged before they can perform a blood-serum test Copper recommends, and the paranoid men begin to turn on each other, especially Windows, the radio operator, and Palmer, the backup pilot. MacReady takes charge and orders Fuchs to continue Blair's work, but Fuchs disappears when the power goes out. As a storm closes in, MacReady, Windows, and Nauls continue the search for Fuchs outside where they eventually discover him burnt to death outside. Windows goes back to tell the others, and MacReady takes Nauls to check out his shack, where the lights have mysteriously come on. On the way back, Nauls cuts MacReady loose from the tow line, assuming he has been assimilated when he finds a torn shirt with MacReady's name on it.
As the team debates MacReady's fate, he breaks in and threatens to destroy the station with a bundle of dynamite if they attack him. In the course of the standoff, Norris and Nauls unsuccessfully attack Macready from behind, causing Norris to apparently suffer a heart attack. When Copper attempts to revive Norris by defibrillation, his chest gapes open and closes like a giant mouth full of teeth, biting off Copper's forearms and killing him. Macready responds by incinerating the creature's body, and then it's fleeing severed head, before ordering Windows to tie up everyone for a new test. When Clark attempts to murder Macready with a scalpel, Macready shoots him in the head in self-defense, killing him. MacReady then explains his theory that every piece of the alien is an individual organism with its own survival instinct that will react defensively when threatened.
One by one he tests everyone's blood, including Clark and Copper's corpses, with a heated piece of copper wire. They are all still human except for Palmer, whose blood flees from the hot wire. Exposed, Palmer transforms and begins mauling Windows, forcing MacReady to burn them both. Leaving Childs on guard, the others head out to test Blair, only to find that he has tunneled under the tool shed. They realize that Blair is now the Thing and has been scavenging the equipment he appeared to destroy in order to build a small escape craft. Discovering that Childs is missing, and the station's power generator has been destroyed, MacReady deduces that the Thing now intends to freeze itself until a rescue team arrives in the spring.
They decide to dynamite the complex hoping to destroy the Thing. While setting the explosives, Garry is killed by Blair and Nauls disappears ambiguously. Blair transforms into a much larger monster and attacks, destroying the detonator, but MacReady still triggers the blast with a stick of dynamite, destroying Balir and the Base. Stumbling through the burning ruins, MacReady encounters a returning Childs, who claims he got lost in the storm while pursuing Blair. The two discuss their distrust of each other and prospects of survival, eventually deciding to wait and "see what happens". Macready offers Childs and bottle of whisky and chuckles after he drinks it.
- Kurt Russell as MacReady
- Wilford Brimley as Blair
- Keith David as Childs
- Donald Moffat as Gary
- Richard Massur as Clark
- David Clennon as Palmer
- Charles Hallahan as Norris
- Joel Polis as Fuchs
- T.K. Carter as Nauls
- Richard Dysart as Copper
- Thomas G. Waites as Windows