I love John Carpenter. What better way to praise the man than creating an agreeable and pleasing list.
This is a man that changed horror, promoted diversity and created classics within very modest budgets.
John Carpenter’s music and art still inspire generations later. They might not know “They Live”, but they certainty conform and obey for some cool t-shirts.
I would have loved to have seen what a young John Carpenter could have created with a massive budget and the freedom to use it.
Yes, please hum your favoured John Carpenter track…. now!
5. Assault on Precinct 13.
Assault on Precinct 13 caught flack for a bit of the ‘ol violence against a small child. Laughable considering what the cosy establishment and celebrities were getting up to at the time. More notable was the main character was a strong willed black hero, unheard of with racist Hollywood at that time. Plus a strong female lead in Laurie Zimmer, again defying the standards of the era. You could easily argue Hollywood still has a lot to learn from a 40 year old film. Progression ey’.
Assault on Precinct 13 was a good film, that was ahead of it’s time with regards to character, theme and casting with the added bonus of treating its audience as bloody adults, with all the horror that implies. Important.
4. Big Trouble in Little China.
It’s a children’s film. So what, it’s fun. Starring Kurt Russell as a cocky, tough-talking idiot, that believes he’s the hero of the day.
The white action hero as a charismatic bumbling twit. I can’t think of any other film that does that better. Even the everyday family friendly John Carpenter film has a twist that elevates it.
3. Escape from New York.
You like Metal Gear Solid right? Cos John Carpenter is the best place to come to pillage ideas. Snake Plisskin is a great name and an even greater anti-hero.
With a mad premise (the kinda idea Hollywood won’t entertain unless its tied into a toy, comic or cartoon… hnngh… franchise… *puke*, who likes the word franchise), Snake’s begrudgingly sent into converted prison Manhattan Island to save a president he hates. Wot could go possibly go wrong?
2. They Live.
Its become pretty fashionable to snot out ya’ nose, gruffly muttering “Oh, They Live wasn’t that clever, was it”.
I respond to that sixth form student, “fuck off”… possibly with an added, “you prick”, as a chaser. Arguably containing one of the funniest and greatest fight scenes in modern cinema, They Live’s filled with moments and ideas that require parody or theft since it hit the screens.
They Live is even more relevant today, as we queue 12 blocks for the newest apple device. A high concept and clever message is great an’ all, but the performance, stark realism and humanity brought by Rowdy Roddy Pipper makes this a genuine classic.
1. The Thing.
Possibly my favourite horror film of all time. The Thing captures palpable tension with justifiable paranoia. The practical effects still look great today. With the perfect cast trapped in the perfect setting this makes for a horror masterpiece.
No time to waste, watch ’em!
Honourable mentions for those that missed out on the list. By a mile.
I agree, remakes generally suck. Carpenter did an alright job of Village of the Damned with Superman. Christopher Reeve holds the film together and it’s a ok watch, especially at five to midnight whilst fiddling about with the insides of a pc.
Also the ever-excellent James Woods is excellent in the mildly cheesy but fun Vampires, channelling that Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China vibe. Escape from Little Vampires. Unfortunately it’s not half as good as those two, of course.
Lastly Dark Star is a terribly cheap film, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a fine sci-fi look at the human condition with some humour for your viewing pleasure.
I don’t consider these special films, but they’re very watchable, all the same.
Now, as you can probably guess from its absence on the list, I didn’t like Halloween much. Let’s try not to solely blame Carpenter for the hundreds of terrible slasher films, even though its definitely his fault.
No doubt a scumbag Hollywood parasite will attempt piss poor remakes of these films over the coming years. At this point they’re pretty much guaranteed to completely miss the point (oh hai, Assault on 2005).
You should watch these again/now before further remakes hit the screen; for a sense of self importance and (justified) indignant rage. So much indignant rage.