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Let's talk John Carpenter / Carpenter 101

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Deer/Dur
Feb 2, 2009
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Just watched JC's Masters of Horror episode "Cigarette Burns". While it's not essential Carpenter, it lands squarely in the enjoyable side of things he's done, and easily the best thing he's done since In the Mouth of Madness. This is actually pretty similar to Mouth of Madness, about how works of art can have reality altering effects.

There's a lot of bad dialogue here, some bad acting, and because it was made for TV in the 90's you don't get any of that widescreen goodness, but it's made up for by how great the concept is. It's about a guy trying to find an 'evil' film, and there's a tension and curiosity that builds up that mirrors that of the protagonist (played by a youngish Norman Reedus!), and the climax is sheer insanity that is certainly worth the wait through the pretty much entirely dialogue based scenes that precede it.

Cigarette Burns isn't too bad, but his other MoH entry Pro-Life is an utter stinkaroo; unequivocally the sloppiest thing JC has ever put his name to. There's a continuity error involving a head-blast that really has to be seen to be believed,

Weird that Carpenter fared so poorly, whereas Argento (another master who's late-career output has been underwhelming) did comparatively so well. Although that's likely down to "Pelts" (his second season effort) being such a blatant homage to Lucio Fulci's later gore and sleaze epics.
 

Gilzor

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Jun 2, 2011
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I just wanted to say, I caught John Carpenter live yesterday for Release The Bats at The Troxy. It was to all intents and purposes a mind blowing evening and something I'll never forget. The highlight of it all though, was Carpenter and the band performing the theme tune to Assault on Precinct 13, my favourite ever Carpenter theme, and injecting the thing with a guitar that almost took the roof off. Absolutely incredible. Best Halloween ever.
 

Discotheque

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Oct 5, 2009
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I would start by suggesting the films of Sergio Leone, Howard Hawks, and Mario Bava. Those are probably his biggest three inspirations.

Howard Hawks feels like John Carpenter before John Carpenter happened if that makes any sense

Like he also had a very ambitious need to delve into multiple genres
 

pretty done

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Jun 29, 2013
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Watched They Live again last night, Meg Foster probably puts in some of the worst acting I've ever seen in a film...and Rowdy Piper was in the movie!

The movie is just all around bad acting

One of those "how the hell does this have over a 7 on IMD... oh the director"
 

Jazzem

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I just wanted to say, I caught John Carpenter live yesterday for Release The Bats at The Troxy. It was to all intents and purposes a mind blowing evening and something I'll never forget. The highlight of it all though, was Carpenter and the band performing the theme tune to Assault on Precinct 13, my favourite ever Carpenter theme, and injecting the thing with a guitar that almost took the roof off. Absolutely incredible. Best Halloween ever.

I saw the Bristol showing just over a week ago, was tremendous aye :) He's clearly having so much fun on stage!
 

Rhomega Beta

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Mar 12, 2012
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I saw the first 3 Halloweens, The Fog, and They Live for this year's 31 Days of Horror. I've also seen Escape from New York, Escape from LA, The Thing, Christine, and Big Trouble in Little China. Great guy.
 

Gilzor

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Jun 2, 2011
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I saw the Bristol showing just over a week ago, was tremendous aye :) He's clearly having so much fun on stage!

Totally. He literally came out with his hands in the air, horns out, and was rocking throughout the whole thing. It was lovely to see.
 

Timeaisis

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May 27, 2011
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I love JC. One of my favorite directors because he's stands so firmly on his own ground. He's got a vision and he sticks to it.

Just finished the Apocalypse Trilogy. Fantastic stuff. Do yourself a favor and watch Price of Darkness and In The Mouth of Madness. Criminally underrated (and not much talked about) films. His sense of horror is almost existential those films. I said this on our film thread, but I frequently wish horror went in the direction Carpenter was pushing it towards: cerebral and disturbing.
 

Llyranor

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May 17, 2006
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Some of his films didn't enthrall that much even though they were decent (The Fog, Big Trouble, Escape from NY), but The Thing is absolutely amazing. Great psychological horror with amazing practical effects.
 

Fancy Clown

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Dec 3, 2013
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Howard Hawks feels like John Carpenter before John Carpenter happened if that makes any sense

Like he also had a very ambitious need to delve into multiple genres

For sure, although that's partly due to the studio structure in the 50's where they were farming out directors to all sorts of projects.
 

PR_rambo

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Jul 29, 2014
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I pissed off a lot of people tonight when I commented on how The Thing is better than Alien, while I was complimenting this guy on his Macready costume.
 

mokeyjoe

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His output has been erratic for sure. Some bad films, some entertaining and interesting B movies , and some bona fide classics - but whatever it is you feel he's put his heart and soul into it. A proper film maker with a real love and understanding of the medium.
 

MikeMyers

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Mar 9, 2007
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I would start by suggesting the films of Sergio Leone, Howard Hawks, and Mario Bava. Those are probably his biggest three inspirations.

Always wanted to get into the works of Mario Bava. What would you deem his essentials/classics? I've heard of Kill, Baby, Kill, but that is about it.

Feel free to PM me if you don't want to deviate the thread.
 

Fancy Clown

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Dec 3, 2013
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Always wanted to get into the works of Mario Bava. What would you deem his essentials/classics? I've heard of Kill, Baby, Kill, but that is about it.

Feel free to PM me if you don't want to deviate the thread.

Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Blood and Black Lace, and The Whip and the Body are his essentials imo. After that his output is a little more uneven in the 70's but there's still plenty of good stuff. Kill Baby Kill is really solid, but I wouldn't put it on the level of the others I listed. Try to watch the Italian version of Black Sabbath if possible, too.
 

kyser73

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Sep 29, 2013
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I'm a sucker for anything with heavy religious mythology stuff, and Prince of Darkness is one of my favourite films period.

JC is an awesome filmmaker, although I agree with the sentiment that his most recent work isn't up to par.
 

Dimmle

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May 18, 2014
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Thank you for this wonderful thread. I've been in love with Big Trouble and The Thing for years but only recently began thinking about John Carpenter's wider oeuvre. It looks like I've missed out on quite a few gems!
 

CrichtonKicks

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Nov 6, 2004
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Watched Prince of Darkness for the first time last weekend. Large parts of it were pretty awful (especially most of the acting) yet it was still really compelling. And the score really just made the movie.

Was kind of disappointed in the script a bit- I had heard for years about how it was this examination of the idea of the Anti-Christ as a religious figure and also something from a scientific perspective. But that seemed to only get a few minutes of screentime and never really congealed into anything.

The video from the future was pretty cool and creepy. Both literally and figuratively ahead of it's time- the style matched the found footage stuff that become popular after Blair Witch which is really odd when merged with something that is so quintessentially '80s.
 

Zombine

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Feb 6, 2014
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I think what I most love about his work is that there is a lot of showing and not much telling. Most of his scripts don't drone on and on about the logistics of whatever world he has created for his characters. They are snippy, quotable, and each scene usually serves its purpose to further some part of the plot or to set up an amazing set piece.

This is where Rob Zombie failed with Halloween 1&2 remakes: they aren't fun. They tried to rationalize "walking evil." He wanted to make you feel something for each and every character and that's not what the viewer wants or needs with genre films. Carpenter isn't a very fluffy director. I find his movies incredibly lean and rewatchable over and over again.
 

aett

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Feb 27, 2007
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Watched Prince of Darkness for the first time last weekend. Large parts of it were pretty awful (especially most of the acting) yet it was still really compelling. And the score really just made the movie.

Was kind of disappointed in the script a bit- I had heard for years about how it was this examination of the idea of the Anti-Christ as a religious figure and also something from a scientific perspective. But that seemed to only get a few minutes of screentime and never really congealed into anything.

The video from the future was pretty cool and creepy. Both literally and figuratively ahead of it's time- the style matched the found footage stuff that become popular after Blair Witch which is really odd when merged with something that is so quintessentially '80s.

I totally agree about large parts of the movie being pretty awful. I remember not enjoying the majority of the movie... yet I think about it a lot, relative to how much I enjoyed it at the time. I really like the overall concept as well as stuff like that future video, and especially the ending.

Same goes for Mouth of Madness. I felt like there was a big part in the middle that wasn't very good - probably when the creepiness "behind the scenes" starts coming out in the open and is unavoidable - but everything after he leaves the town and returns home is fantastic.
 

mariachi507

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Feb 1, 2010
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I've recently ordered the upcoming Second Sight blu-ray of Assault on Precinct 13. Note for anyone looking to buy, it's most likely a region 2 only release. The reason I'm posting about it though, is that one of the extra's included is a short film called Captain Voyeur. This is notable since it was just discovered in 2011 and it's one of Carpenter's short films made during his years as a USC film student. The film itself is said to only be about 8-minutes long, but it features a masked man stalking a woman. I'm very interested to see what similarities there are to Halloween which he made a few years after and to see how he evolved in that timeframe.
 

PhoncipleBone

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Apr 12, 2005
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I pissed off a lot of people tonight when I commented on how The Thing is better than Alien, while I was complimenting this guy on his Macready costume.
I wouldn't agree with you, but I wouldn't be pissed. Moving between those films is a lateral move. Both masterpieces.
 

HStallion

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Nov 23, 2015
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Mondo Tees is Making a Boardgame Based on John Carpenter's The Thing

 
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