Monday, June 28, 2010

Honoring: John Carpenter

John Carpenter was born January 16, 1948 and is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, composer, editor, and actor. Although Carpenter has worked in numerous film genres, his name is most commonly associated with horror and science fiction.

John Carpenter's first major film as director was Dark Star (1974) a science fiction black comedy that he cowrote, produced, directed, and composed for. Carpenter's next film was Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), a low-budget thriller influenced by the films of Howard Hawks. He not only wrote, directed and scored it, but also edited the film under the pseudonym "John T. Chance". The film was released in the United States to mixed critical reviews and unsuccessful box-office profits, but after it was screened at the 1977 London Film Festival, it became a commercial success in Europe and is often credited with launching Carpenter's career.

John Carpenter's third film was his legendary smash hit "Halloween" that helped launch the slasher genre. Originally an idea suggested by producer Irwin Yablans which was entitled The Babysitter Murders, he envisioned a film about babysitters being menaced by a stalker, Carpenter took the idea and another suggestion from Yablans that it take place during Halloween and thus the series was made. Carpenter again worked with a relatively small budget, $320,000. The film grossed over $65 million, making it one of the most successful independent films of all time.

Carpenter followed up the success of Halloween with The Fog (1980), a supernatural revenge tale inspired by horror comics such as Tales from the Crypt. Completing The Fog was an unusually difficult process for Carpenter. He was dissatisfied with the view rough cut of the film. He had to devise a way to salvage a nearly finished film that did not meet his standards. In order to make the movie more coherent and frightening, Carpenter shot additional footage that included a number of new scenes. Approximately one-third of the finished film is the newer footage. Carpenter immediately followed The Fog with the science-fiction adventure Escape from New York (1981), which quickly picked up large cult and mainstream audiences as well as critical acclaim.

His next film, The Thing (1982), is notable for its high production values, including innovative special effects by Rob Bottin, special visual effects by matte artist Albert Whitlock, a score by Ennio Morricone and a cast including rising star Kurt Russell and respected character actors such as Wilford Brimley, Richard Dysart, Keith David, and Richard Masur. The Thing was made with a budget of $15,000,000, Carpenter's largest up to that point, and distributed by Universal Pictures. Although Carpenter's film was ostensibly a remake of the 1951 Howard Hawks film, The Thing from Another World, Carpenter's version is more faithful to the John W. Campbell, Jr. short story, Who Goes There?, upon which both films were based. The Thing was part of Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy a trio of film's with depicted scenarios of the apocalypse.

Years continued and John Carpenter has been credited from movie to movie, including, but not limited to: In the Mouth of Madness, Prince of Darkness, Christine, Village of the Damn, They Live, and Escape from L.A. His career has been quite the vast exploration of his many talents. He is undeniably one of horror's greatest contributors and only years will tell if John Carpenter's movies will be able to remain as timeless as they have so far.

So today, I pay great respect to this legend and can only hope that his future projects will keep bringing out the innovative mind of this legendary director.


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