A John Carpenter Poll

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Some of the films to which John Carpenter was attached at one point but eventually left were Top Gun, Fatal Attraction, The Golden Child, No Way Out, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Deal of the Century, Armed and Dangerous, Firestarter and The Philadelphia Experiment.

So feel free to pick the film John Carpenter should have directed out of that lot, too.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
The Thing (1982) 24
Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 9
Escape from New York (1981) 8
Assault On Precinct 13 (1976) 7
Halloween (1978) 6
They Live (1988) 5
Starman (1984) 3
Dark Star (1974) 1
Christine (1983) 1
Prince of Darkness (1987) 0
The Fog (1980) 0
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) 0
In the Mouth of Madness (1995) 0
Village of The Damned (1995) 0
Escape From L.A. (1996) 0
Vampires (1998) 0
Ghosts of Mars (2001)0


Matt #2, Monday, 3 September 2007 23:02 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Impossible.

Alex in SF, Monday, 3 September 2007 23:18 (eleven years ago) Permalink

When he's on, he's way the fuck on. Then there's the rest of the time. Anyway, "The Thing" is the best of his best period (the Kurt Russell trilogy) and also possibly the best paranoid horror movie ever made.

Starman is quality, too.

Oilyrags, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 00:15 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I voted for "The Thing" because I can't make it through that movie - it freaks me out v. thoroughly.

Sara R-C, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 00:21 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Thing! Thing! Thing!

latebloomer, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 00:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

The Thing.

jed_, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 00:28 (eleven years ago) Permalink

gotta be Halloween for me

dmr, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 00:46 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I picked Assault on Precinct 13. He has at least two movies that are "better" movies (The Thing and Halloween) but the simplicity of AoP13 appeals to me. Ghosts of Mars is sooooooooooo terrible.

n/a, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 01:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Oh, Escape from NY is probably better too.

n/a, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 01:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Plus Assault on Precinct 13 has the awesomest music.

n/a, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 01:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Virtually impossible to choose between these six:
Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)
Halloween (1978)
Escape from New York (1981)
The Thing (1982)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
They Live (1988)

The rest in order:
Christine (1983)
The Fog (1980)
Prince of Darkness (1987)
Escape From L.A. (1996)
Dark Star (1974)
Ghosts of Mars (2001) (this is kind of underrated)
Starman (1984) (I don't really remember this well, it might be higher)
In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
Village of The Damned (1995)
Vampires (1998) (this is the only one I can remember thinking okay this is really bad)

Never seen:
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 01:24 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I wonder if Dark Star is as much fun as I remember it being. (Saw it when I was 17.)

Rock Hardy, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 01:31 (eleven years ago) Permalink

In the Mouth of Madness is underrated

latebloomer, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 01:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Yeah it's pretty creepy.

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 01:43 (eleven years ago) Permalink

OK, unlike the Hitchcock one, I did not vote pragmatically here. I went Christine and also considered The Fog. That said, I hope Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing or They Live win over Escape from New York or Big Trouble in Little China.

Eric H., Tuesday, 4 September 2007 02:16 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Mmmm Vanilla Twist.

pisces, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 02:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I went for The Thing, but now wish I'd gone for Dark Star. Or Escape From New York. Or maybe Halloween. A John Carpenter-directed Fatal Attraction would have won it though.

Matt #2, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 12:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I like that he's never made a remotely serious movie (well except for Starman, I guess.)

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 13:49 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Really reaaly difficult, for me though it's

Halloween
A on P13
The Fog
Big Trouble In LC
They Live

The music on Halloween just beats out the music on A on P13 for me but they are both awesome.

Already i feel like Escape from NY and Starman should be top 5 as well.

Ned Trifle II, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 14:13 (eleven years ago) Permalink

And The Thing

Ned Trifle II, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 14:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I'm curious what you mean by a serious movie, Alex.

Oilyrags, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 14:16 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I think he means movies I like (ie, out of respect to you fanboyz, I am going to abstain rather than vote for Starman).

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 14:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

EXACTLY! Haha no I mean that he never tried for Oscar-fare or to really move out of the horror/sci-fi niche he created for himself. Obviously a lot of other horror/b-movie guys haven't either, but every time I think of oh Raimi for example, I still think it's neat that guys like Romero/Craven/Carpenter just stuck with what they were good at.

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 14:56 (eleven years ago) Permalink

in fairness, apparently I haven't seen 4 of Eric's 5 faves. Please warn me if there are any others like Big T in Little C.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 15:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Morbs, at least give The Fog a shot. It's got very Val Lewtonian overtones.

Eric H., Tuesday, 4 September 2007 15:06 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I will, someday

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 15:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I actually think "The Thing" is a pretty serious picture, even though the filmmaking itself is mostly about thrillpower. The whole cold-war 'enemy within' sci-fi invasion sub-genre is 'serious' imo, even if I can't really define what I mean by serious.

"Starman" is just "The Thing" standing on its head.

Oilyrags, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 15:10 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I'm not sure those are my 5 faves, either. Halloween would certainly give They Live a run for the fifth slot.

Eric H., Tuesday, 4 September 2007 15:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

The Thing is so f'ing scary. Love it.

Trip Maker, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 15:20 (eleven years ago) Permalink

The Fog isn't very good.

n/a, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 15:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

What's not to like? ... I mean, other than it not being particularly scary?

Eric H., Tuesday, 4 September 2007 15:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Yeah there isn't enough to 'The fog', a half-hour stretched to movie length.

Most of his films have some kinda veiled commentary to me - but done in a seriously entertaining way.

And yes, incredible music - seriously underrated as a film composer/arranger isn't he? Everybody loves Morricone, etc. but he sure knows how to pack a punch. 'Ghosts of Mars' is up there with his very best in that respect.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 18:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

http://www.i-marco.nl/weblog/images/bush_they_live.jpg

We're inching closer to the inevitable John Landis poll.

Eazy, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 18:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I still think it's neat that guys like Romero/Craven/Carpenter just stuck with what they were good at.

Craven did that Meryl Steep movie...

latebloomer, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 18:34 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Plus he wasn't very good at what he was good at.

Eric H., Tuesday, 4 September 2007 18:39 (eleven years ago) Permalink

voted 'they live' just to be objective, but it almost, almost went to 'prince of darkness' just to rep for it. the scene where alice cooper kills the nerd guy from 'riptide' with half a bicycle (a scene so brilliant it is spoiler-proof) and the shared dreams with television interference.

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 18:40 (eleven years ago) Permalink

'Escape from NY' for me, which just shades 'The Thing' as I skived off school to see it.

I also really rate 'The Eyes of Laura Mars', which he wrote.

Soukesian, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 20:50 (eleven years ago) Permalink

The Thing

I have no memory of Starman and was kinda unaware it was even his movie

Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 21:44 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Haha I totally suppressed that stupid Meryl Streep movie that Craven did!

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 21:51 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I don't think I've seen a single one of these. Maybe parts of Halloween when I was a kid.

jaymc, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 21:53 (eleven years ago) Permalink

it was downhill for Raimi after that stupid BillyBob Thornton hillbilly "thriller" movie

Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 21:54 (eleven years ago) Permalink

you mean the fine A Simple Plan? o u kid

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 21:55 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It was downhill after Quick and the Dead! Actually A Simple Plan s'okay.

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 21:57 (eleven years ago) Permalink

oh man I forgot about the Quick and the Dead ugh

Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 22:00 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It was downhill after Quick and the Dead!

You mean there are worse films than Quick and the Dead??!?!

ledge, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 22:03 (eleven years ago) Permalink

The Gift's mediocre.

Alex in SF, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 22:04 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I only saw it last night, and was AMAZED at the awful crash-zoom-piled-on-crash-zoom editing, totally destroying whatever semblance of tension the movie might have had.

xpost.

ledge, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 22:04 (eleven years ago) Permalink

horribly shitty casting doesn't help either - I'd say its only marginally more of a trainwreck than Carpenters' Vampires, which is unforgiveably bad

Shakey Mo Collier, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 22:07 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Apparently Sharon Stone insisted on DiCaprio and Crowe, and even paid their fees to get them over the studio's wishes.

ledge, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 22:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I suspect Dan S. has higher horror tolerance now than he did in 1978, he should see The Thing

One of the greatest threads in ILX history: The Thing

Brad C., Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:16 (one week ago) Permalink

xpost Except for the part where you don't even need special glasses to see the monsters.

Have you ever had a dream that you um you had your you you could you (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:17 (one week ago) Permalink

carpenter tried to warn us, man, we’ve only got ourselves to blame

michael keaton IS jim thirlwell IN ‘foetaljuice’ (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:18 (one week ago) Permalink

not enough ppl voted for the thing

mark s, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:22 (one week ago) Permalink

if everyone who’s ever posted on ilx voted for the thing it still wouldn’t be enough tbfttt

michael keaton IS jim thirlwell IN ‘foetaljuice’ (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:31 (one week ago) Permalink

Although I love many of his movies and have seen them countless times, it's just possible that this is the Carpenter production I've seen (and, one assumes, I must then love) the most:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bR57i3Fkn4

Have you ever had a dream that you um you had your you you could you (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:34 (one week ago) Permalink

Love that video, particularly Nick Castle hamming it up in a "sweater over button-down" ensemble.

☮ (peace, man), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:37 (one week ago) Permalink

lmao

big trouble in little china was my first carpenter film, i asked my dad to buy it for me when i was eight bc i loved the box art

american bradass (BradNelson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:38 (one week ago) Permalink

if ever a movie lived up to the box art, it’s btilc

michael keaton IS jim thirlwell IN ‘foetaljuice’ (bizarro gazzara), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:42 (one week ago) Permalink

i don't really find The Thing to be particularly frightening -- it's got the gore and the suspense about who's still human and who isn't, but it's more of just an absurdly entertaining and well-paced sci-fi horror ensemble piece.

those kids who staged Alien as a theater production should do The Thing next.

omar little, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:44 (one week ago) Permalink

cannot explain why my opinion of prince of darkness evolved from "goofy but interesting and cool" to "mortally terrifying masterpiece" but here we are

This transition took place for me while I was watching the movie for the first time, and it's still scary as hell every time I pull it out (I own the DVD). Also, watching it for the first time in 20 years or so and suddenly realizing that DJ Shadow had sampled the "transmissions from the future" on Endtroducing was a major *head explode* moment.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 16:52 (one week ago) Permalink

PoD
-
The typing, leading to "IN FACT, YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED".
- The blank-eyes stares of the two women guarding the morphing host.
- "Faaaaaaaaaather." as the host reaches through the liquid mirror.
- Jameson Parker waking up from the transmission, and the feeling of inevitability as he reaches towards a mirror.

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 17:42 (one week ago) Permalink

i don't really find The Thing to be particularly frightening -- it's got the gore and the suspense about who's still human and who isn't, but it's more of just an absurdly entertaining and well-paced sci-fi horror ensemble piece.

those kids who staged Alien as a theater production should do The Thing next.

― omar little, Wednesday, May 15, 2019 9:44 AM (fifty-eight minutes ago) Bookmark

i find the thing really hard to watch. just find a lot of those effects really eerily gruesome

findom haddie (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 17:43 (one week ago) Permalink

Whoops, sent too soon, with so many other examples why PoD edges out Halloween as favorite JC horror flick: the dissolving body in the parking lot, Alice Cooper, Dennis Dun, the swirling goo that drips upwards, Donald Pleasance, Jessie Lawrence Ferguson's cry/laugh reaction to being undead, Lisa Blount reaching backwards from the other side, the evolving content of the transmission, etc.

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 17:47 (one week ago) Permalink

it is just full of great terrifying ideas and standout performances and it's also a kind of slasher movie where the monster is entombed satan goo and aaaah

american bradass (BradNelson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 17:54 (one week ago) Permalink

i really love the shot where the decomposed and satan-possessed kelly looks at her pocket mirror on the floor

american bradass (BradNelson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 17:57 (one week ago) Permalink

Prince of Darkness is like a masterclass for depictions of the unheimlich... animate dead, eyeless living, physics-defying secretions, events proceeding contrary to time, airless mirror worlds, indifferent gods

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 17:58 (one week ago) Permalink

swarming insects, measuring devices vs the unmeasurable, explicit fate, that dude's mustache

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:03 (one week ago) Permalink

jesus was not human but an alien from a human-like species!!!! god i live for that shit

american bradass (BradNelson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:05 (one week ago) Permalink

Okay, okay, you've all convinced me, I'll rewatch ASAP.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:07 (one week ago) Permalink

I know my position remains controversial but Halloween is easily my least favorite of the Carpenter films I've seen. It does v v little for me.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:08 (one week ago) Permalink

Most overrated horror movie by some distance. Although Suspiria is a not-too-distant second.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:09 (one week ago) Permalink

what kind of horror do you like?

mh, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:10 (one week ago) Permalink

no judgment intended, just curious!

I probably am guilty of mostly liking non-horror horror

mh, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:12 (one week ago) Permalink

A very big and broad question! Actually don't think I'm that into slashers, for a start. I dig the first four Elm Streets but the Friday the 13th and Halloween series (minus my beloved Halloween 3) are largely snoozefests.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:15 (one week ago) Permalink

But I love the genre on the whole. I think I have like 500+ horror movies in my collection.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:17 (one week ago) Permalink

Possession is likely my favorite, so I'm also very into the horror-not-horror.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:18 (one week ago) Permalink

i didn't *get* halloween for a long time but it's exactly like how it took me forever to *get* celtic frost, it inspired so much and has blended so thoroughly into the culture around it that it can be initially hard to see what's special about it. but the last time i watched it i spent the entire time enthralled by the gliding camera movements through haddonfield

but also yeah not liking slashers v much in general would be another obstacle

american bradass (BradNelson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:19 (one week ago) Permalink

regardless i insist you get into bad '80s canadian slashers like the initiation ol, thanks ahead of time for altering your taste just for me

american bradass (BradNelson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:20 (one week ago) Permalink

I get Halloween in the same way I get The French Connection, i.e. it was an innovator which has been so subsequently cannibalized that it loses much of its latter-day impact. I can appreciate its influence and place in horror history, it's just that my eyes kinda glaze over when it's on.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:22 (one week ago) Permalink

And specifically wrt the thread topic, it's lacking much of the random batshittery and goofiness that makes so many other Carpenter films so appealing to me.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:23 (one week ago) Permalink

Good slasher pics off the top of my head: OG Texas Chainsaw, Tourist Trap, Pieces. I'm sure there are others. Even Black Christmas, though, doesn't do a lot for me.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:24 (one week ago) Permalink

It hasn't been mentioned quite enough times on this thread how utterly terrible Vampires is. I remember Kent Jones writing something around the time it came out that John Carpenter has never made a movie he should feel embarrassed over and thinking, "Um, right here!"

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:26 (one week ago) Permalink

I like Vampires. It's dumb as shit, but it's fun.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:32 (one week ago) Permalink

And it looks really good. Carpenter hadn't lost his eye yet.

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:33 (one week ago) Permalink

My only enduring memory of that movie is James Woods saying "f*gg**" as much as he could get away with.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:34 (one week ago) Permalink

I'm kinda curious to watch his Masters of Horror episodes but also...not that curious?

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:35 (one week ago) Permalink

I kinda feel like, independent of the actual quality of the films in question, it might be difficult to watch any movie starring James Woods these days.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:36 (one week ago) Permalink

Videodrome aside, yes.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:36 (one week ago) Permalink

"Cigarette Burns" is about as good as the show got, I'd say. Not his best work, but at least he showed up the rest of them. "Pro-Life" is less good and more grisly.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:37 (one week ago) Permalink

oh wait shit i forgot to mention this:

my wife has been dealing with her folks' financial stuff for several years now, and the guy who is the financial advisor she's worked with is Richie Castle, all grown up

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/headhuntershorrorhouse/images/8/8f/Richie_meets_the_Shape.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20141001142055

omar little, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:42 (one week ago) Permalink

He doesn't appear to have grown up all that much tbh.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:47 (one week ago) Permalink

They Live gets deserved credit for a honest depiction of Reagan's America, it's worthwhile for that alone

They Live is worthwhile as a big dumb goofy fun genre movie, but I always thought it gets waayyyyy too much credit as political/social commentary. It was 1988 after all - like yes, at last, a piece of culture that's finally brave enough to critique the greed and excess of Reagan's America, only a mere 8 years into Reagan's presidency. It's fun to see people fight weird gross monsters or w/e, but the idea of it as a piece of Serious Subversive Commentary always seemed a little rich to me. Would have worked just as well or better as a music video or an episode of Amazing Stories or something imho

I always thought of The Thing as the quintessential 80's/"Reagan's America" movie in Carpenter's filmography.

One Eye Open, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:52 (one week ago) Permalink

I assume that you mean that the Thing was the brave conservative simply trying to survive an assault on its values by a bunch of godless beardo hippie liberals who refused to conform to its dream of uniformity through assimilation.

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:00 (one week ago) Permalink

xp to Eric

I personally like to think James Woods died five minutes after the release of Videodrome. Tragic.

mh, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:06 (one week ago) Permalink

xp Old Lunch, plus theres the obvious reference to the time that William Casey's stomach opened up and bit the arms off Ed Meese

One Eye Open, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:09 (one week ago) Permalink

woods is good in salvador

mark s, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:11 (one week ago) Permalink

I think the credit it gets is for the on-screen depiction of Reagan's America, not necessarily the critique

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:12 (one week ago) Permalink

they live

mark s, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:36 (one week ago) Permalink


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