Happy 60th, John Carpenter

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AchillesHeel
1/16/08 10:56:19AM
Today we toast one of the great Black Belts of film-making (my ratings are out of 5 stars).

Dark Star * * * (1974) Weird little movie, this.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) * * *


Halloween * * * * * (1978)



Before Jigsaw, before Patrick Bateman, or Jason Voorhees, or Freddy Krueger, or The Candyman, or Hannibal Lecter, there was Michael Myers. Alongside Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974), Carpenter almost single-handedly defined an entire genre of film*. If you're a fan of movies - not just horror movies, but movies - and you haven't seen this, it should be in your Netflix queue. This movie also features one of the most iconic theme songs of all time. The sequel, not directed by Carpenter, picks up where the first one ends, and is also worth seeing.


The Fog * * * (1980)
Escape from New York * * * * (1981)
The Thing * * * (1982)
Christine * * * * (1983)
Starman * * * * (1984) Stylistically, an odd diversion from Carpenter's meat-n-potatoes.
Big Trouble in Little China * * * (1986)
Prince of Darkness * * * * (1987) Scared the living piss out of me when I was a kid.
They Live * * * * (1988)
Escape from L.A. * * (1996) Not terrible, but not up to par.
Vampires * * * (1998)
Ghosts of Mars * * (2001) Meh.

I haven't seen In the Mouth of Madness (1995), Village of the Damned (1995), or any of his real early stuff.




* Of course, both films owe a pint of blood to Norman Bates (Psycho, 1960), but Hitchcock was simply too far ahead of his time, and the serial-killer genre didn't really take off until the late '70s and early '80s. You could even make the argument that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was more of a '60s-style film, while Halloween was the first of the '80s-style slasher films, but that's probably too fine a distinction to make outside of a film class.