May 10, 2016

John Carpenter’s Best Horror Works: A Countdown

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Written by: Lee Skavydis
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It has been announced that 68 year old legendary horror director, John Carpenter will be headlining the Simple Things Festival in Bristol, England on October 23rd.

Carpenter will be playing a type of contemplation of his past musical work that reached the pinnacle of success throughout the late 1970’s and 1980’s and will be accompanied by a live band. Fans of Halloween and Carpenter’s work in general are sure to have a blast.

A countdown on several of his best works in the horror genre will be analyzed today, so stick around to see which movie this article picks as it’s first choice!

The Fog (1980)


Capturing some of the spiritual essence of Halloween, The Fog tells the story about a group of shipwrecked outcasts that return to terrorize a small Californian town all beginning with the incoming of a mysterious wide sheet of fog.

Director John Carpenter utilized his famous synths to construct the score as he famously did for Halloween which suitably fitted the picture. But unlike the aforementioned, The Fog confirms the entities in this one are, in fact, supernatural, something in which Halloween only hinted at to the audience.

The Fog makes for a spooky early 1980’s supernatural slasher movie that was designed by Carpenter when he was still at the top of his game, although this work was to be bettered in the future!

The Thing (1982)


It has been reported that The Thing is the one movie that Carpenter is most proud of. After being an independent director for so long, Universal Studios were willing to lend him a sizeable budget to do the remake of 1951’s The Thing From Another World.

But unfortunately for Carpenter, The Thing has always been viewed as something that should have been given much more credit than it received considering the jaw dropping practical special effects combined with a sterling narrative and matching performances by the likes of Kurt Russell. Carpenter managed to still create an intense sense of paranoia as he did with his independent horror works but in a slightly altered manner.

It has been said that the musical score has the power to tell just as much of a story as the actors, but unfortunately The Thing’s theme does fall short of being memorable and effective. But with the astonishing effects showing themselves for what they are, a good score doesn’t seem to matter much in this case and is instead secondary to what the film visually displayed.

Christine (1983)


After work was completed on The Thing, an adaption of Stephen King’s novel Christine became John Carpenter’s next project. Plot alterations that were set in the novel have irked fans of the book who still want to see a more faithful adaption.

Nevertheless, Christine is an effective chiller. Keith Gordon is disquieting as teenage owner Arnie Cunningham, who eventually turns against his loved ones after being emotionally lured by the devilish automobile. It’s conclusion does suffer from not being as definitive as perhaps it could have been but the back door is left open for a sequel which never came to fruition.

A remake has been mentioned by Hollywood executives but nothing has been set in concrete. If or when it does happen, maybe fans of the book will finally get what they have been longing for!

Halloween (1978)


Considered, rightly or wrongly, the grandaddy of slasher movies, Halloween wasn’t a success right away and instead was a project that gained a global following through word of mouth over time.

Relatively tame compared to what we are shown today, modern audiences born after 1989 possibly wouldn’t be able to take it quite so seriously as older folk who were born closer to it’s initial release. But those that are interested in the technicalities of filming would find Halloween quite interesting. Carpenter knew exactly what he wanted out of each and every shot that made it to the big screen and used the Steadicam to instigate audiences into wondering if the villain, Michael Myers was ever going to pop out from behind a tree or a large green garden bush and terrorize 1970’s audiences!

The score was also composed by Carpenter, which resonates simplistically but is haunting and threatening at the same time. Although it’s sequels also used the theme, it’s message eventually changed into one that symbolized Myers as some unstoppable monstrous force that lost it’s dangerously expressive presence.

About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.


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