John Carpenter: A Directorial Filmography
This is a filmography of John Carpenters’ theatrical films within the horror, sci-fi and action genre. It is not a complete filmography and that is why films that he directed for TV or Cable are not included.
John Carpenter directed several short films from 1969 to 1974, when he then directed his first full length feature film: DARK STAR. The film was co-written by Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon, who would go on achieve fame as the co-writer of ALIEN with Ronald Shusett. DARK STAR itself is now considered a cult classic.
Carpenter followed up DARK STAR with a modern day western entitled ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. The film is an homage to RIO BRAVO and to his hero, Howard Hawks. In fact, for his film editing credit he used the pseudonym “John T. Chance“. This was John Waynes’ characters name in RIO BRAVO.
In 1978 John Carpenter made the film that would establish him as a master of horror, would make Jamie Lee Curtis a scream queen for much of her career and would make October 31st the night he came home. Made on a very low budget (the leaves were spray-painted construction paper cut-outs and Michaels mask was a prototype Captain Kirk mask), it went on to gross around $47 million and would be his most financially successful film to date.
After helming two made-for-TV movies (SOMEONES’ WATCHING ME and ELVIS, the latter his first collaboration with Kurt Russell), Carpenter cast his then-wife Adrienne Barbeau and mother/daughter scream queens Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis for THE FOG. When THE FOG rolls in, the terror begins.
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK-1981
Carpenter re-unites with his ELVIS star Kurt Russell for this futuristic action/adventure that is by far one of his most popular films to date. The names of some of the characters are the names of horror films great such as David Cronenberg and George Romero.
Once again teaming up with Kurt Russell, Carpenter made a film that was reviled upon its’ release but is now considered a classic of the horror/sci-fi genre. The all male ensemble cast is excellent in what is in my opinion Carpenters’ masterpiece as a film maker.
How do you follow up a masterpiece like THE THING? Carpenter did it by adapting Stephen King’s book about a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury. Keith Gordon, the actor who plays Arnie Cunningham, went on to be a successful director himself and has helmed several films and TV shows including A MIDNIGHT CLEAR and DEXTER.
In 1984 Carpenter directed Jeff Bridges in an Academy Award nominated performance as an alien who takes the form of a young widows’ husband in this sci-fi romance that also starred Karen Allen (RAIDERS of the LOST ARK).
Teaming again with Kurt Russell in 1986, Carpenter directed this action adventure comedy also starring Kim Cattrall. Due to poor promotion the film was a bomb upon it’s release. It has since become a cult hit due to home video rentals.
PRINCE OF DARKNESS-1987
Carpenter returned to horror with PRINCE OF DARKNESS. Donald Pleasance protrayed Father Loomis, an homage to the character he portrayed in HALLOWEEN.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was the star of Carpenters’ next film about a society where subliminal messages are planted by aliens who wear the guise of the rich and affluent. The five minute plus fight scene between Piper and Keith David would parodied blow for blow on the popular comedy SOUTH PARK in the ‘cripple fight’ sequence of episode 67.
MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN-1992
This was Carpenters first studio film since BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and is based on the novel by H.F. Saint.
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS-1995
Carpenter directed Sam Neill in this Lovecraftian horror thriller from 1995. Sutter Canes’ popularity is clearly based on the real life following of author Stephen King.
VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED-1995
This remake of the 1960 film by Wolf Rilla would be actor Christopher Reeve’s final film before the horseback riding accident that would leave him paralyzed until his death in 2004.
ESCAPE FROM L.A.-1996
In what would be his fifth collaboration with Kurt Russell, Carpenter directed this sequel to his brilliant sci-fi action film ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.
Carpenter directed James Woods as vampire hunter Jack Crow and his battle against the master vampire Jan Valek.
GHOSTS OF MARS-2001
This would be Carpenters’ last theatrical film until 2010 when he will be directing THE WARD.
- Indie Horror Month Video Interview: Master of Horror John Carpenter Reflects on the Early Days of His Career (dreadcentral.com)
- What’s So Great About Escape From New York? [John Carpenter] (kotaku.com)
- Lockout trailer: Escape from Space? (bizzam.wordpress.com)
- Christine (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- John Carpenter’s Asylum #1 (comicsforge.com)
- Lockout Wondercon footage (bizzam.wordpress.com)
- Don’t give The Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day any of that intelligent life crap, just give it something to blow up! (aintitcool.com)
- “The Horror In Music Comes From The Silence” – John Carpenter Interviewed (thequietus.com)
- John Carpenter: Master of Horror (mysweetoasis.wordpress.com)
- The Thing (2011) – Movie Review (monsterscifishow.wordpress.com)
Posted on 12/11/2010, in John Carpenter Films, Monster or Alien Films, Movies, Slasher Films and tagged Assault on Precinct 13, carpenter, Dark Star, Escape from New York, John Carpenter, Kurt Russell, Movies, Stephen King, Thing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.