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) link

Impossible.

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

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) link

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) link

Thing! Thing! Thing!

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

The Thing.

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

gotta be Halloween for me

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

http://www.sensesofcinema.com/images/directors/03/25/they_live.jpg

The Yellow Kid, Tuesday, 4 September 2007 01:05 (eleven years ago) link

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) link

Oh, Escape from NY is probably better too.

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

Plus Assault on Precinct 13 has the awesomest music.

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

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) link

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) link

In the Mouth of Madness is underrated

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

Yeah it's pretty creepy.

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

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) link

Mmmm Vanilla Twist.

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

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) link

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) link

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) link

And The Thing

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

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

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

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) link

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) link

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) link

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) link

I will, someday

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

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) link

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) link

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

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

The Fog isn't very good.

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

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) link

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) link

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) link

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) link

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

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

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) link

'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) link

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) link

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

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

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) link

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) link

you mean the fine A Simple Plan? o u kid

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

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) link

oh man I forgot about the Quick and the Dead ugh

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

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) link

The Gift's mediocre.

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

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) link

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) link

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) link

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 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

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

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:32 (three months ago) link

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

shared unit of analysis (unperson), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:33 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

Videodrome aside, yes.

zama roma ding dong (Eric H.), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:36 (three months ago) link

"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 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

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

Independent Living Ass (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 15 May 2019 18:47 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

woods is good in salvador

mark s, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:11 (three months ago) link

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 (three months ago) link

they live

mark s, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:36 (three months ago) link

three months pass...

id never seen precinct 13

its bad

phil neville jacket (darraghmac), Tuesday, 20 August 2019 20:41 (five days ago) link

no movie which features a kid getting shot dead in the first couple of minutes can be entirely bad iirc

Andy Jones, Earth-Born Angel of Love (bizarro gazzara), Tuesday, 20 August 2019 20:42 (five days ago) link

Nah, it's good, just kind of formative.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 20 August 2019 20:43 (five days ago) link

i promise you ive just seen it, its bad

phil neville jacket (darraghmac), Tuesday, 20 August 2019 20:48 (five days ago) link

Great score at least.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 20 August 2019 21:19 (five days ago) link

yep

and girl moment and slow setup are good

performances are shockin tho

phil neville jacket (darraghmac), Tuesday, 20 August 2019 21:29 (five days ago) link

dun-diddle-dun-dun a-dun-diddle-dun-dun dun-diddle-dun-dun dun-DUN-diddle-dun-dun

‘Assault.. ‘ is great! What a movie! I always loved the story of how it did nothing in the States but then became a big hit in Britain at festivals where everyone went crazy over it. I hated Dark Star which is about as funny as a pin through the eye, so it tickles me that his co-writer on that hated ‘Assault..’. Interesting to note it currently has 98% on Rotten tomatoes.

It was a cast of as-good-as-unknowns so that explains the unpolished acting I suppose.

piscesx, Friday, 23 August 2019 04:08 (two days ago) link

feel i normally align with darragh on films but Assault on Precinct 13 is good and James Morrison makes an excellent point.

Fizzles, Friday, 23 August 2019 05:24 (two days ago) link

oh deems is talking about the *performances* lol.

Fizzles, Friday, 23 August 2019 05:25 (two days ago) link

ha, develop that

i love any other carpenter ive seen, and was really looking forward to this so am willing to be talked round a bit.

phil neville jacket (darraghmac), Friday, 23 August 2019 08:18 (two days ago) link

well i’m ion a train but yes i don’t think the performances are v good but probably don’t need to be.

saw this when i was 15 and that’s where it’s status for me comes from. but if i give it a bit of thought i’d say the escalation of violence, from initial incident to gradually coalescing threat is v well managed. that threat coalesces into the specific impacts of bullets etc on the claustrophobic precinct but they’re only ever loosely linked to that brooding presence just beyond the visible iirc. in that respect it’s much like the early parts of the fog.

Fizzles, Friday, 23 August 2019 08:44 (two days ago) link

hmm this is all fair tbh

i hate to be that person doing that thing where youve seen a genuinely bold and influential effort after all the movies that have done it since (and tbf often better, which of course given budget and a template is easy done) and therefore seeing mainly the faults...but i think im that person this time

phil neville jacket (darraghmac), Friday, 23 August 2019 09:13 (two days ago) link

As I'm sure has been mentioned somewhere on this thread already, Assault is basically Hawks' Rio Bravo transplanted to an urban modern-day setting - but I think knowledge of that actually makes the Carpenter seem more ingenious!

IIRC ex-ilxor Enrique tried to argue somewhere (again, maybe here) that the remake of Assault is better than the original, but he may have been provoking us complacent auteurist at the time.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 23 August 2019 09:21 (two days ago) link

i’ve only seen the remake once, back when it was released, but i remember it being pretty good

Andy Jones, Earth-Born Angel of Love (bizarro gazzara), Friday, 23 August 2019 10:43 (two days ago) link

Obviously Carpenter loved Hawks and siege movies, and he would go to that well a lot - even Halloween is ultimately kind of a one-person siege movie - but Assault is also kind of a riff on zombie movies (minus the zombies).

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 23 August 2019 11:49 (two days ago) link

right down to the weather/lubar radio reports at the start

phil neville jacket (darraghmac), Friday, 23 August 2019 13:02 (two days ago) link

lunar

phil neville jacket (darraghmac), Friday, 23 August 2019 13:02 (two days ago) link

AOP13 is good but it's certainly this (relative to expectations) really understated and bleak and dim movie which i think works effectively as a mood flick more than a kinetic action movie, which is to its credit. i do remember the performances being blatant in terms of the lack of charisma happening onscreen, everything taken away from the performances but the words and the gestures. I mean practically Bressonian in a way tbh.

omar little, Friday, 23 August 2019 19:47 (two days ago) link

There's a quote from Simon Pegg on the wiki that sums that up, sort of:

"You wouldn't really call it an action film," claims Pegg, "because it was pre- the evolution of that kind of film. And yet it is kind of an action film in a way."

Which is party why it works as a kind of link between Night of the Living Dead and, I dunno, Die Hard.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 23 August 2019 19:58 (two days ago) link

Wikipedia says "Assault ... was shot in only 20 days, including Thanksgiving, on a budget of $100,000."

and you can see every dollar on the screen

Brad C., Saturday, 24 August 2019 18:51 (yesterday) link

Carpenter only ever makes siege movies, just sometimes the protagonists are under siege (they live, the fog, prince of darkness), and sometimes they're the ones conducting the siege (big trouble in little china, escape from new york, vampires). His is a world of fortresses.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Saturday, 24 August 2019 22:19 (yesterday) link

in dark star the protagonists are under siege by their own bomb

El Tomboto, Saturday, 24 August 2019 23:07 (yesterday) link

Embarrassingly, I must confess that I only saw Escape From New York for the first time last night. Solid flick! Although not quite what I expected. I figured it would have the brash swagger of his mid-'80s action-oriented material, but falling as it does between The Fog and The Thing it makes sense in hindsight that it's actually a moodier and more meditative film than I'd imagined. Wanna see LA now even though I'm sure it isn't the sequel this thing deserved.

McGrief the Crying Dog (Old Lunch), Sunday, 25 August 2019 00:47 (eighteen hours ago) link

LA is bad

Οὖτις, Sunday, 25 August 2019 00:48 (eighteen hours ago) link

What's the word on Black Moon Rising? I was first alerted to its existence via a trailer compilation I own and thought 'THIS LOOKS AMAZING' even before I learned that there was a Carpenter connection.

Also need to get around to watching Somebody's Watching Me! so the title stops seeming like an indictment of my continued negligence.

McGrief the Crying Dog (Old Lunch), Sunday, 25 August 2019 00:51 (eighteen hours ago) link

FTR, I seem to enjoy Carpenter even when he is bad (eg Vampires and Ghosts of Mars).

Oh right, the other one I haven't seen and always forget he did: Memoirs of a See-Through Chevy Chase. Is there any point?

McGrief the Crying Dog (Old Lunch), Sunday, 25 August 2019 00:54 (seventeen hours ago) link

Nah, Carpenter didn't write it or do the soundtrack... it's pretty bad.

the girl from spirea x (f. hazel), Sunday, 25 August 2019 02:43 (sixteen hours ago) link

I've never seen Memoirs. I always forget about Starman (which is not a siege film).

Black Moon Rising he ... wrote? Like The Eyes of Laura Mars?

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 25 August 2019 03:30 (fifteen hours ago) link

Yeah, he only wrote the screenplay (directed by the fella who helmed the feted Burt Reynolds vehicle Malone).But I mean just look at this thing and tell me it isn't simply drenched in unadulterated Carpenterism

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MFD9P-QupFs

McGrief the Crying Dog (Old Lunch), Sunday, 25 August 2019 03:43 (fifteen hours ago) link


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