The Thing (also known as John Carpenter's 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 parasiticextraterrestrial lifeform that assimilates other organisms and in turn imitates them. The Thing infiltrates an Antarctic research station, taking the appearance of the researchers that it absorbs, and paranoia develops within the group.
The film is based on John W. Campbell, Jr.'s novella Who Goes There?, which was more loosely adapted by Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby as the 1951 film The Thing from Another World. Carpenter considers The Thing to be the first part of his Apocalypse Trilogy, followed by Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness. Although the films are narratively unrelated, each features a potentially apocalyptic scenario; should "The Thing" ever reach civilization, it would be only a matter of time before it consumes all life on Earth. Carpenter acknowledged that the work of H.P. Lovecraft also inspired the film.
On June 25, 1982, The Thing opened in 840 theaters, and it was the #8 movie of the week at the box office. It remained in the top 10 for three weeks. The lower-than-expected performance has been attributed to many factors, the main ones being the runaway success of Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which was also released by Universal Studios three weeks earlier and featured a more optimistic view of alien visitation, and that another major adult-oriented science fiction film, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, was released by Warner Brothers the same day. However, The Thing went on to gain a cult following. The film was eventually reappraised by critics, and is now considered to be one of the greatest horror films ever made.
The film subsequently spawned a novelization in 1982; a comic book miniseries adaptation, entitled The Thing from Another World, published by Dark Horse Comics in 1991; a video game sequel, also titled The Thing, in 2002; and a prequel film with the same title on October 14, 2011.