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John Carpenter


chalkitdown
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Seriously. So many (cult)classics to his name in the 70's and 80's. Then the 90's arrived*. What the hell happened?

Oh yeah, and, Escape From New York is on ITV, like, RIGHT NOW! Almost over though.

*I still haven't seen 'In the Mouth of Madness'. I hear it's good.

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I've literally just finished watching In the Mouth of Madness, which makes this thread incredibly spooky.

Anyways, the Carpenter slide was a weird, slow one. He was solid up to Big Trouble... then the films drop off in quality bit by bit, but things like Prince of Darkness and They Live are still very watchable so you forgive them a little. Memoirs of an Invisible Man is arse but In the Mouth of Madness is actually a little upward turn. Then things go quite pear-shaped with Village of the Damned and *sob* Escape From LA. From there it's unmitigated shite.

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You get the feeling the pressure of his earlier work was bearing down on him. Well that's a possible excuse.

No matter what he does though he's done enough superb films in his time, more than some other directors could dream of.

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He seems to make a good film from a decent script. I guess everyone has to put food on the table, if a studio asks him to direct or permission for a remake you can pretty much guarantee he'll accept.

Ghosts of mars.. (shakes head) :)

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I think the thing with John Carpenter is that he's very much a director of the 70s and 80s. It's like he can't adapt to the 90s and 00s, which is a shame. I can't put my finger on why exactly, but that's my gut feeling.

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Did someone just diss Memoirs of an Invisible man, Prince of Darkness and They Live? You fool!

Carpenters epic career took a nosedive after In the Mouth of Madness for me. Village of the Damned is passable (at least for having Mark Hamill as a mad priest) but Escape from LA and Ghost of Mars truely ended his run of greatness.

So sad. His films are some of my all time favorites (The Thing being nearly my number one)

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Hey there.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...

John Carpenter

john-carpenter.jpg

Kurt Russell

244.russell.kurt.092706.jpg

These two men are roughly the same age. Just 3 years between them...

It seems blatantly obvious to me that when John Carpenter was 28 years old he sold his soul to the Devil in return for 12 years of amazing movie making. But on the day of his 40th birthday, the day he had to pay his debt, he chose not to hand over his soul. He chose instead to go on without the talent the Devil gave him and spend the rest of his life on the run from the Devil. As a consequence the Devil cursed him with 5 times accelerated aging of a normal human being.

It's the only explanation that makes sense.

Despin out.

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Hey there.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...

John Carpenter

john-carpenter.jpg

Kurt Russell

244.russell.kurt.092706.jpg

These two men are roughly the same age. Just 3 years between them...

It seems blatantly obvious to me that when John Carpenter was 28 years old he sold his soul to the Devil in return for 12 years of amazing movie making. But on the day of his 40th birthday, the day he had to pay his debt, he chose not to hand over his soul. He chose instead to go on without the talent the Devil gave him and spend the rest of his life on the run from the Devil. As a consequence the Devil cursed him with 5 times accelerated aging of a normal human being.

It's the only explanation that makes sense.

Despin out.

Thats the third time you've posted that in a Carpenter thread now, Despin. It wasn't that funny the first time.

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I just don't understand how someone so talented can go from hero to zero in the way that Carpenter has.

See also: Francis Ford Coppola.

Coppola was never a hero, he did the overrated Godfather films, the overlong Apocalypse Now and then the overkeanureeves Dracula.

Carpenter on the other hand is one of the greatest directors to ever live (and I say that without seeing Mouth of Madness) and it's a great shame that his talent seems to have disappeared. Despin's theory is an interesting one but I think JC's struggles are rooted in the production, he's given casts of big names he can't handle or rising stars who have no acting talent, too much money which breaks his balance of tension and special effects, and a desperate need for money so he can eat, look at the guy! I think he's still got 'it' but can't really work in the modern climate, but I think if you gave him the Ghost on Mars script, a five pound note, a soundstage, Kurt Russel and 3 or 4 unconventionally attractive TV stars, you'd have a great movie.

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Aye. Bung him a hundred quid, a casio keyboard, a horror script, Kurt and a few no names and he'd create a work of art. Its obvious that his type of filmaking just can't exist in todays high budget / big return + high pressure studio system

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I think the thing with John Carpenter is that he's very much a director of the 70s and 80s. It's like he can't adapt to the 90s and 00s, which is a shame. I can't put my finger on why exactly, but that's my gut feeling.

He's never really adapted to the CGI age. Which is surprising given his skill with old fashioned effects and makeup.

And Escape from LA is ace. Flawed, but ace. Which makes everybody all wrong. 50 million dollar big budget crowd pleaser and he ends it by switching off the world.

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One of the highlights of my professional career was working on Sentinel Returns on the PS1, which Carpenter did the score for.

I'd say Carpenter started going downhill with Prince of Darkness, though that was pretty good, it's definitely second-tier Carpenter, as is In the Mouth of Madness. Everything post-Prince is rubbish, Vampire$ for instance. :lol:

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Whatever happens, we'll always have his classics. Age shall not weary them.

I keep meaning to watch Village of the Damned - it's the only Carpenter movie I've never watched all the way through (although I've seen the odd section).

I also really like Memoirs. I really like Chevy Chase too though - maybe the Carpenter / Chase pact brought about both their career slides? :lol:

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The Carpenter book, Prince of Darkness, is well worth a read. It's really just a set of interviews regarding his career. I think he's turned down a lot of stuff and when he gets involved with the big budget stuff the studio is straight in there to alter his work.

Ghosts of Mars was pretty awful, Vampires had its moments but really it was James Woods who raised it above straight to video tat. Early Carpenter, I'd put it up against any director and he'd probably come out on top. He had a streak that was hotter than white hot. He might not have had the box office success he deserved (especially in regards The Thing and Big Trouble) but his early stuff speaks for itself. Look at how many people tend to slip a Carpenter movie into their top ten. If not, they've generally got a lot of respect for his work.

Nowadays I think he's happy to kick back and take the remake cheques. He's not a director for the 90s/00s, but with the right script and team in place, he'd blow anyone away.

(I think I wrote most of the above in the last Carpenter Thread).

Has any other director had so many people lament the loss of quality in their work as time has gone on?

Eli Roth & torture porn is the face of horror? Fuck you, Roth. In a million years, if you directed a movie every year, you'd still not put down anything close to the most mundane scene in The Thing. Ahem.

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Check out the 2-disc Criterion Collection dvd of Videodrome if you haven't already. It's got a round-table featurette, starring three young movie bucks in the eighties about to start filming some little known horror films. John Landis>American Werewolf in London. David Cronenberg>Videodrome. John Carpenter>The Thing. A Holy Triumvirate of Horror!

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Were his episodes of Masters of Horror any good?

I've only seen Cigarette Burns and, slightly meandering script and very suspect casting aside, it's actually quite good. I think, as people have already mentioned, when he's stripped to the basics - cheap sets, jobbing actors and practical make-up - he's still able to throw something together, just not to the same standard he once could.

Amazingly hammy turn from Udo Kier as the eccentric movie collector, too.

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  • 7 years later...

Nobody ever mentions Starman in a John Carpenter thread. And fair enough, some of you might think it's shit, but I rather like it. It's the kind of uncomplicated blockbuster that doesn't seem to get made these days. No convoluted twists, just good, solid story telling.

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