It is very difficult not to love john carpenter, a guy true to himself and willing to risk his career over and over again in order to shoot exactly what he wants. Along the way, it has left unrepeatable jewels, unforgettable entertainment and different box office flops that, over time, have become cult classics from which to profit with various remakes and rehashes. His acolytes, tireless defenders of the talent of this craftsman of horror, seem willing to do anything since the filmmaker premiered in the 70s the student ‘Dark star‘.

Since then, we have seen how this endearing guy laid the foundations of the slasher American, modernized horror classics with Lovecraftian airs, adapted to Stephen King in an exemplary manner and amused himself with nonsense adored by his followers.

John Howard Carpenter was born on January 16, 1948 in Carthage, New York, but at the age of five he moved with his family to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he grew up and began his fascination with movies, especially westerns and the horror and science fiction movies.

“I loved monster movies as a kid, but unfortunately, it’s all superheroes now. A lot of my characters aren’t the coolest people in the room, they’re the underdogs, the working class.”

Although he enrolls in Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, he does not finish his studies when he becomes involved with Dan O’Bannon Produced by ‘Dark star‘.

“In the Film School they told me that we had to fight for our own vision, so I have always protected my films. I have fought so that they do not put their hands on them, because in the US they do not want us to be the authors owners of our works. The fight is hard”.

Thanks to his good work he managed to shoot shortly after ‘Assault on the 13th Precinct Police Station‘, a title that, despite not dazzling the public at first, managed to find its place and once again kept Carpenter’s phone active.

It was then that he began to prepare his film about a babysitter killer which, thanks to an exceptional team, the refinement of the script of Debra’s Hill and to the talent of a boiling Carpenter, it ended up becoming ‘The halloween night‘ (1978).

“‘Halloween Night’ was never my idea for the movie. My idea was to make a movie about an old haunted house. It’s 100% exploitation cinema. I decided to make a movie that I would have loved to have seen as a kid, full of cheap tricks, like the haunted house at a fair, where you can walk down the aisle and things jump out at you. It’s been suggested that he was making some sort of moral statement. Believe me, he wasn’t. On Halloween I used to see the characters as just normal teenagers.

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We review here some of those films that shaped the cinephile culture of several generations (and those that remain).

one

‘Dark Star’ (1974)

two

‘Assault on the 13th Precinct Police Station’ (1976)

A new Los Angeles police officer supervises the transfer of the last troops of a police station that will be abandoned. When some gang members besiege the building with a vengeance, the last guests of the premises must endure their continuous attacks without losing control of the fort.

Considered by Carpenter to be his first real film, it is a tribute to Howard Hawks’s ‘Río Bravo’. Later it would have its own remake, the weak ‘Assault on the 13th district’ (Jean-François Richet, 2005).

3

‘Halloween night’ (1978)

At the age of six, young Michael Myers stabs his family. Fifteen years later, the care of Dr. Loomis does not seem to have much effect and he escapes from the psychiatric hospital ready to kill poor Laurie and anyone who gets in his way.

The beginning of a legend that not only started a saga that continues to grow, but also opened the season for the North American slasher. His powerful soundtrack asserted his role as the perfect composer of his works.

That same year he premiered the television movie ‘Someone is spying on me!’ (1978), one last test to see if he was ready to meet Myers’s challenge. It turned out so well that he was soon commissioned for another television production on the king’s life, ‘Elvis’ (1979), a project in which he coincided for the first time with the other king, Kurt Russell.

4

‘The Mist’ (1980)

A mysterious fog slowly approaches a coastal town preparing for its centenary. A curse lurks under the mist, and anyone who fails to flee its inexorable presence will come face to face with death.

Along with Debra Hill, Carpenter pulled this story that smelled like authors out of his sleeve, with whom he would collaborate shortly after. As if it were a story from ‘Tales from the Crypt’, it achieved another success based on a low-budget product.

5

‘1997: Rescue in New York’ (1981)

In 1997, New York has become the mega-prison of the United States. Criminals live there under their own rules, something that is fatal to the President when he is kidnapped and taken to the very Manhattan. Luckily veteran Serpent Plissken takes matters into his own hands.

John Carpenter and Kurt Russell decided they were going to be cool, and they were cool. This crazy dystopia was a success in its day, but it has gained as we have moved away from that impossible 1997. And yes, Hideo Kojima liked it so much that he made a version of Plissken the protagonist of his ‘Metal Gear Solid’ . They threaten remake.

6

‘The Thing’ (1982)

Something is happening at an experimental station in Antarctica. The Americans discover that the Norwegian team has been killed too late, just as they begin to understand that there is an entity among them capable of taking any form.

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What for many is the director’s best film was his first big disaster. The success of ‘ET, the extraterrestrial’, meant that this not-so-benevolent visitor from space was ignored and harshly criticized. Today it is a classic, more recognized than the first version of John W. Campbell’s story, ‘The enigma of another world’ (Howard Hawks, 1951).

7

‘Christian’ (1983)

A ’58 Plymouth Fury with a thirst for blood. What Stephen King can’t think of…

The failure of ‘The Thing’ made things difficult for poor Carpenter, who saw how Universal removed him from the ‘Eyes of Fire’ template at the last moment. Chance wanted Universal to offer him another adaptation of King and the director, who had no more proposals, agreed to shoot the one with the killer car.

In 1984 he got even with ‘Starman’, a Michael Douglas production with a fabulous Jeff Bridges as a charming visitor from space. Despite good reviews and Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, it did not fully penetrate popular culture.

8

‘Little China Coup’ (1986)

Jack Burton is a trucker who knows them all. When he witnesses the kidnapping of a colleague’s fiancée, he will not hesitate to delve into the depths of a secret society led by Lo Pan, a guy who is about 2,000 years old.

The fame of this madness has grown so much over the years that it is hard to believe that it was the failure with which Carpenter saw his entire subsequent career weighed down. Anyway, remember what Jack Burton always says: “But what happens”.

9

‘The Prince of Darkness’ (1987)

A priest and a group of physics students discover that evil is hiding in the basement of an old church in Los Angeles. Together they will try to seal the place forever.

After the economic disaster of the previous year, the director backtracked and returned to take charge of small low-budget stories. Accompanied by his always faithful Donald Pleasence, the result was quite interesting.

10

‘They’re Alive’ (1988)

A poor bloke from wild Los Angeles stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses that show the world as it really is. Everything around him is full of subliminal messages that force society to obey an alien race that has camouflaged itself among us.

Another video store classic that has grown alongside those who enjoyed it in its day and those to whom it has been shown. Roddy Piper may not have been the best actor in the world, but that just adds to the movie.

eleven

‘Body Bag’ (1993)

A guy who works in the morgue tells us three horror stories. The first will take us to a gas station where things get out of hand, the second will show us the dangers of not facing alopecia with integrity and the third will underline that Mariló was right when a guy’s life is turned upside down by transplanting the eye of a serial killer

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Recalling badass episodic horror movies like ‘Creepshow’, Carpenter teamed up with his colleague Tobe Hooper (who signs the third short) to bring to life this funny prank with cameos from all the popes of the genre in the 80s/90s.

All this happened a year after the premiere of ‘Memoirs of an invisible man’, but if we have skipped it, it will be for something.

12

‘In the mouth of fear’ (1995)

A detective is hired to find a horror novelist who has disappeared. Although he fears that it may be a publicity stunt for his next novel, he agrees. Little by little he will discover that the matter is trickier than it seems.

The perfect mix between an approach by Stephen King with a background by HP Lovecraft, the film closes the particular trilogy of the Apocalypse that it forms together with ‘The Thing’ and ‘The Prince of Darkness’.

That same year, ‘El pueblo de los malditos’ premiered, a new adaptation of John Wyndham’s work which, although effective, was a box office failure.

13

‘2013: Rescue in LA’ (1996)

In 2013, Los Angeles has become the new trendy prison. The president’s daughter has ended up there, and Serpent Plissken will have to travel there to rescue her.

Desperate to reconnect with his audience, Carpenter returned to one of his best characters only to discover that what worked in the early ’80s didn’t work in the mid-’90s. A surfing car chase is coffee for coffee drinkers.

14

‘John Carpenter’s Vampires’ (1998)

A group of vampire exterminators is on the trail of the dangerous Valek, a cunning bloodsucker who intends to ambush his killers in a New Mexico town.

Knowing that his fan base would answer the call, Carpenter directed both this adventure and the even more schizophrenic ‘Ghosts of Mars’ (2001). Both must be loved as we love the director himself.

fifteen

‘The end of the world in 35mm’ (2005)

Kirby Sweetman runs a dilapidated movie theater and is hired by a strange guy who asks about Le Fin Absolue Du Mond’, a movie that seems to have disappeared from the face of the Earth. Little by little, Kirby will discover why.

This account in the ‘Masters of Horror’ series is one of Carpenter’s latest acclaimed works. He also made the curious ‘Pro-Vida’ (2006) for the same compilation of stories and, in 2010, he premiered his last feature film to date: ‘Encerrada’.

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