John Carpenter

"A writer-director best known for his vivid and ghoulish modern horror films, he has made a number of fine action and science fiction films, as well. If Brian De Palma is the heir to Alfred Hitchcock, then John Carpenter is the heir to Howard Hawks. Like Hawks, Carpenter shoots his movies with an 'invisible' style; the audience is rarely aware of the camera's presence or the editor's splices." - The Encyclopedia of Hollywood, 2004

John Carpenter

Director / Composer / Screenwriter
(1948- ) Born January 16, Carthage, New York, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Supernatural Horror, Action, Sci-Fi Action, Sci-Fi Horror, Alien Film, Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Comedy
Key Collaborators: Larry Franco (Producer), Dean Cundey (Cinematographer), Alan Howarth (Composer), Charles Cyphers (Character Actor), Kurt Russell (Leading Actor), Gary B. Kibbe (Cinematographer), Daniel A. Lomino (Production Designer), Peter Jason (Character Actor), Donald Pleasence (Leading Actor), Debra Hill (Producer), Donald M. Morgan (Cinematographer), Marion Rothman (Editor)

"It was with his third feature that Carpenter became established as one of Hollywood's most bankable directors. Produced on a shoestring budget of $300,000, his effectively executed horror movie Halloween grossed $60 million worldwide, thus becoming the most profitable independent production up to its day... Adept at generating suspense and narrative drive, Carpenter also uses horror and science fiction metaphorically to explore the dark side of modern American culture - personal isolation and distrust in The Thing, urban decay in Escape from New York, and mass communications in They Live. However, his films are often uneven in quality, sometimes over-shadowed by their own expensive special effects and the conventional demands of the genres in which they are placed." - The Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"Carpenter is a director who likes to get his audience on the edge of their seats, then make them jump off it. He continued to be mighty successful at it too, although in the early 1980s his films were insufficiently progressive - one longed for more variety in his work." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)
"In reviews of his later work, in particular, critics have dismissed John Carpenter's films as "mechanical" or "workmanlike". Yet his movies have rarely pretended to be anything more or less than straightforward action flicks (notwithstanding their elegant widescreen landscapes), with flatly drawn characters who function as cogs in his genre machine... Whatever genre Carpenter works in, you can usually read a social commentary between the lines. A recurrent motif is the culture in microcosm under attack." - Jessica Winter (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Carpenter's films - mostly cheap(-ish) and cheerful reworkings of sci-fi, horror and thriller situations familiar from 40s and 50s B-movies - are full of hokum, yet at their best they are gripping, witty and mythic... Though Carpenter's stories gleefully eschewed originality, he displayed his expertise in creating suspense by cutting back and forth between various endangered individuals and groups and by his canny, much-copied use of the wide screen, with the threat to victims suddenly appearing from the side of the frame or emerging from a murky background." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"One of the generation of movie-crazy "movie brats", steeped in the films made under the studio system, especially the low-budget thrillers, serials and space-movies of the 40's and 50's, and the work of Hitchcock and Hawks. It's a case of the young devouring their elders." - Ronald Bergan (A-Z of Movie Directors, 1983)
"It is strange to think that John Carpenter, having directed such well-known cult classics such as Escape from New York, Halloween and The Thing has remained one of the most under-appreciated directors in Hollywood. But like other mavericks, this is because he's ignored critics, stayed true to his vision and continued making movies that he would like to see." - Steven Paul Davies (A-Z of Cult Films and Film-Makers, 2001)
"I have a great feeling for physical movies. I don't like intellectual films. I love suspense. I want the audience to laugh and cry - an emotional response... I write a scene the way a composer writes a score. Then I take the baton and I conduct it as director. I'm the happiest I can ever be when I'm on the set directing." - John Carpenter
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
The Fog (1980)
Worth a Look
Dark Star (1974), Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) , Halloween (1978) , Elvis [TV] (1979), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982) , Starman (1984), Prince of Darkness (1987), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
Approach with Caution
Christine (1983), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), They Live (1988)
Not Recommended
Village of the Damned (1995)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
John Carpenter / Favourite Films
Blowup (1966) Michelangelo Antonioni, Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles, Only Angels Have Wings (1939) Howard Hawks, Rio Bravo (1959) Howard Hawks, Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock.
Source: Rotten Tomatoes (2011)
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Films / Books
    Halloween
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