MASTERS OF HORROR SEASON ONE, EPISODE EIGHT: JOHN CARPENTER’S CIGARETTE BURNS-United States-2005
Directed by John Carpenter
I assume that a lot of you read Written in Blood because, first and foremost, you love movies; especially horror movies. I will expand upon that assumption by saying that there are those of you out there who love movies so much that not only do you collect and watch movies, but that you also collect movie memorabilia of various degrees. Along with the hundreds of DVD’s and Blu-rays that I own, I also have some posters; as well as a Planet Terror Cherry Darling action figure still in the original package. My pride and joy is a beautiful ceramic Godzilla statue depicting the lizard king (sorry Jim Morrison, but the Big G will always be the original) from Godzilla vs. Biollante. But enough about all that; this is one of those times where I start with one story to tell you another story. John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns is about the high price of movie collecting and I’m not talking about paying double on eBay for an authentic Iron Man helmet.
Norman Reedus (Mimic, The Walking Dead) is Kirby, a rare films dealer hired by the wealthy Bellinger (Udo Kier, Blade, Suspiria) to find a print of an ultra-rare film called “La Fin Absolue du Monde”, or “The Absolute End of the World”. Upon its premiere, the film set off a homicidal riot and was later believed to be destroyed. Bellinger is convinced that a print of the film exists and shows Kirby proof in the form of the Willowy Being, a humanoid creature that may or may not be an angel. The Being tells Kirby that if the film were truly destroyed then he would know about it. Up to his ass in debt to his late girlfriend’s father, Kirby accepts the job. The closer he gets to the truth, the more he begins to see ‘cigarette burns’ a slang term for the mark on a film that indicates that it will soon be time to change reels. The ‘burns’ are used here to indicate when there will be a shift in the tone of the film and the results of Kirby’s search for “La Fin Absolue Du Monde”. With that, seeing as how I take pride in keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible, there’s not much else I can tell you about the plot of Cigarette Burns.
This is the second time in the past three years that I’ve watched Cigarette Burns. The first time I had yet to begin writing and therefore took a casual approach to the episode. But, even after watching it with more scrutiny the second time around; I found that I had to sit for a while to be able to collect my feelings about it. It reminds me of a friend of mine who told me that when he went to see Pulp Fiction, he sat in his car in the theater parking lot for twenty minutes pondering on whether he liked the film before finally deciding that he did like it. I understand him now; it took me twenty minutes to determine that I liked Cigarette Burns. It’s the best episode (so far) of Masters of Horror. Norman Reedus carries the film with a charm that I personally don’t think a more well-known actor could have accomplished. Those of you who only know the guy as Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead I would highly recommend to see this episode. There’s a lot more to the guy than a red neck and a crossbow.
Cigarette Burns has an identical plot to Roman Polanski’s thriller The Ninth Gate. One of the main differences being that it is a film and not a book that Kirby is hired to find. The other is that at over two hours I couldn’t wait for The Ninth Gate to end. At the end of 58 minutes, Cigarette Burns left me wanting more.
The newspaper columnist lives in a secluded house in Carthage, New York. John Carpenter, who directed the movie, was born in Carthage, New York.
- John Carpenter (burningambulance.com)
- John Carpenter in Review: In the Mouth of Madness (1994) (houseofgeekery.com)
- Masters of Horror Season One, Episode Two: Dreams in the Witch House (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Masters of Horror Season One, Episode Three: Dance of the Dead (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- [From the Ashes] October Horror Part III: John Carpenter Edition (fromtheashesrpg.blogspot.com)
- Masters of Horror Season One, Episode Five: Chocolate (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Masters of Horror Season One, Episode One: Incident on and Off a Mountain Road (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Masters of Horror Season One, Episode Six: Homecoming (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Masters of Horror Season One, Episode Seven: Deer Woman (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Masters of Horror Season One, Episode Four: Jenifer (jmountswritteninblood.com)
Wow, I’ve done ten editions of “What’s Their Best Film?” already. In that time I have received great response from some of my regular and my non-regular commentators. I’m sure that a lot of you have voiced your opinion of not what you thought a particular filmmaker’s best movie was; but listed your favorite film from said director instead. Hey, that’s cool; because in order to accurately give an opinion of a director’s best movie you would have had to have seen every film in their catalog. I love movies, but I will not and cannot watch movies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are more important things such as work, supporting a family and figuring out ways to get Honey Boo Boo off the air. Damn what an annoying kid and her equally annoying mother!
So why am I babbling on and on? I shall tell you. In the last ten editions of “WTBF?” it has been you, dear reader, who has voiced your humble opinion. Now it’s my turn to give you my opinion. I will list each director below and I will tell what I think is their best movie or my favorite movie; whatever you want to call it.
Is it any surprise that I’m going with Goodfellas for this one? In my opinion it’s the greatest gangster flick ever made.
Runner-up: Taxi Driver
Most of what Bay puts out is complete shit; but if I had to choose a movie of his to watch I’d go with Armageddon . At least it got the Criterion Collection treatment.
Psycho. It’s my favorite “Hitch” film and in my humble opinion it is also his best. The shower scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Runner-up: Rear Window
Two words: Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, Okay, so that’s six words. That’s because these movies rock so hard they blow up two words and turn them into six!
Runner-up: Pulp Fiction
I loved Magnolia and watch it at least three times every year. There are just so many great performances in this film from Julianne Moore to John C. Reilly. Tom Cruise was robbed of an Oscar for his role as informercial sex guru Frank ‘T.J.’ Mackey.
Runner-up: Boogie Nights
Do you honestly think I would choose anything other than The Thing?
Jeff Goldblum had the role of a lifetime in Cronenberg’s vision of the George Langelaan short story The Fly. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Runner-up: The Dead Zone
BRIAN DE PALMA
Some might say Carrie, some might say Scarface; I’m going with Blow Out as De Palma’s best. Travolta’s performance is one of the key reasons Tarantino wanted him for Pulp Fiction.
Runner-up: Carrie or Scarface (tie)
I loved Short Cuts the first time I saw it and every time after that. Fantastic ensemble acting.
Not only is Sin City Rodriguez’ best film; but it is also the single most faithful adaptation of a graphic novel from page to screen that I have ever seen in my entire life. It’s also the movie that once again made a contender out of Mickey Rourke.
Runner-up: From Dusk ’til Dawn
Unforgiven is one of the greatest westerns ever made. It was directed by Clint Eastwood; who in turn learned a few tricks from one of the greatest filmmakers, Sergio Leone.
Runner-up: Million Dollar Baby or Mystic River (tie)
This is cheating, but I’m going with the entire Evil Dead trilogy for this one. Who needs Spider-man when you’ve got Ash? Bruce Campbell rocks!!
Runner-up: Spider-man 2
To be honest, I’ve only seen three Argento films: Suspiria, Mother of Tears and Opera. Of the three of those I suppose my choice for his best would be Suspiria. What a creepy and atmospheric film.
I have to go with The Wrestler on this one. I’ve been a fan of the squared circle for quite a long time and it’s the first film to take the subject matter seriously. Mickey Rourke was amazing as Randy “The Ram” Robinson.
Runner-up: Black Swan
I could be a complete asshole and go totally against the popular choice of A Nightmare on Elm Street as Craven’s best; but that would just be stupid. He gave us Freddy Fucking Krueger with this one, for crying out loud!
Runner-up: The Last House on the Left or Scream (tie)
Just as Craven brought usFreddy Krueger with his greatest film A Nightmare on Elm Street; so did Tobe Hooper bring us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface 10 years prior. Watch this movie and you’ll think twice about picking up hitchhikers and eating Texas Bar-B-Que.
It may seem like a strange choice, but I pick his remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes over High Tension (aka Haute Tension aka Switchblade Romance) as Aja’s best film. It’s close though; both movies are fucking brutal.
Runner-up: High Tension
Some people seem to love Rob Zombie’s films and other people seem to hate his films and his fucking guts. There’s no middle ground. What’s his best film? That’s easy: The Devil’s Rejects.
What have I said before? The Howling is the greatest werewolf movie ever made; so the choice here is a no-brainer.
Re-animator, of course. Those of you who disagree can get a job in a sideshow. This film brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘giving head.’
Runner-up: From Beyond
GUILLERMO DEL TORO
I haven’t seen everything by Del Toro, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Devil’s Backbone. It was an amazing little ghost story.
There is no question that Night of the Living Dead is Romero’s greatest film; the trouble is that Dawn of the Dead is every bit as awesome. Folks, we have a tie! Zombies everywhere have Uncle George to thank for their popularity.
Runner-up: Day of the Dead
I loved Session 9 and The Machinist on equal terms; but if I had to choose I’d have to go with the latter based simply on the strength of the performance from Christian Bale. The Machinist is a brilliant film about guilt and how it can affect us so deeply.
Runner-up: Session 9
The Exorcist. Nothing else need be said.
Runner-up: The French Connection
I choose May as McKee’s best for one simple reason: the deliciously disturbing performance from Angela Bettis. She deserved an Oscar for that movie.
Runner-up: The Woman
It’s going to take Sanchez a long time before he gets out from under the shadow of The Blair Witch Project. He’s been making heavy strides with films like Altered and Lovely Molly. Still, it is the witch who holds sway over all.
I’ve only seen one Bava film and that is Black Sunday. I do want to see more.
The same goes for Lucio Fulci and Zombie. I know, I know I need to watch more Fulci and Bava.
The man who gave us The Man with No Name. It’s hard to pick one great Leone film. A Fistful of Dollars? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? Once Upon a Time in the West? Once Upon a Time in America? Nope, I just can’t do it.
There you go; my choices. Some are your choices as well and some are not. Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one and they make the world go ’round.
- Criterion Collection Coming to Hulu Plus (savings.com)
- Saddest Movies of All Time (mrmovietimes.com)
- Pairing a Spooky Movie with the Ideal Sweet Snack for a Halloween Date (berries.com)
- Spielberg vs. Spielberg in The Fight of the Holiday Weekend! (mrmovietimes.com)
- Goosebumps (comm2302metafiction.wordpress.com)
- Steven Spielberg Refuses to ‘Exploit’ Abe’s Assassination in ‘Lincoln’ (aceshowbiz.com)
- Craig’s Best James Bond; Spielberg’s Bruising Lincoln: Movies – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- When it comes to Bond, nobody does it better than Sam Mendes (sacbee.com)
- RU? Instant Reaction Review Podcast Ep. 33 – Wreck-It Ralph And Giveaway (areyouscreening.com)
- The comfort of clichés (thehindu.com)
SCREAM QUEEN OF THE MONTH-OCTOBER 2012-DANIELLE HARRIS
I have to be honest with you all; I really don’t know all that much about the October Scream Queen of the Month, Danielle Harris. I know that she’s beautiful; the photo above is proof of that. I know that she made her film debut as Jamie Lloyd in 1988′s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and would return to the role the following year in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. I also know that she stepped into the role of Annie Brackett for director Rob Zombie’s re-vision of Halloween and Halloween II in 2007 and 2009; a role was originally filled by Nancy Loomis in John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978 and again in Halloween II in 1981.
Hmm, so what else do I know about Danielle Harris? Well, she has earned the title of modern day Scream Queen by appearing in genre films like Urban Legend (1998), Left For Dead (2007), The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond (2009), Hatchet II and Stakeland (both 2010) and Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 and The Victim (both 2011).
She has appeared in the non-genre films The Last Boy Scout (1991) with Bruce Willis as well as Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead and Free Willy. She recently completed Fatal Call and is in post-production with Hatchet III, Dead.tv and The Ghost of Goodnight Lane.
Last but not least, I know that it is an honor to bestow the title of Scream Queen of the Month for Halloween Month 2012 upon the beautiful and the busy Miss Danielle Harris!
Born Danielle Andrea Harris on June 1, 1977
She appeared both as the on-screen ”Roseanne” (1988)’s neighbour, Molly in the TV show, and as Roseanne’s real life daughter, Jessica in a movie autobiography of Roseanne’s life.
In the mid-1990s, she was stalked by an obsessed fan. This person wrote letters threatening to kill her, and was eventually arrested for bringing a shotgun to her house.
Kept her clown costume from Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) for years and even went trick-or-treating that year around Queens as Jamie Lloyd. Years later she sold the costume to a dedicated “Halloween” fan for his own personal collection.
- Three Part 3s: Friday the 13th Part 3, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warrior and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (gawker.com)
- 31 Days Of Horror – Exclusive Interview With Actor/Director/Scream Queen Danielle Harris (biffbampop.com)
- Top 6 Danielle Harris Horror Roles (dreadcentral.com)
- Blu-ray review: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (mutantreviewers.wordpress.com)
- Danielle Harris Bringing Among Friends to DEDfest 2012 in Edmonton (dreadcentral.com)
- Three Part 3s: Friday the 13th Part 3, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (gawker.com)
- Halloween Horror: Hollywood’s Best Scream Queens (mtholyoke.uloop.com)
- Neve Campbell & Our Favorite Scream Queens (k1047.cbslocal.com)
- Geekery’s Favourite Scream Queens (houseofgeekery.com)
I was asked, by my friend Tyson at Head in a Vice, if I would submit my list of eight movies, one book and one luxury item that I would want to have with me if I were stranded on a desert island. I must say that I am glad that he finally asked as I was feeling left out and would soon resort to stalking and glaring menacingly at him while cleaning my fingernails with an ice pick. Just kidding, Tyson. Maybe.
I got to thinking about what to include on the list. I’m not a professional critic; I don’t know all about the various techniques that filmmakers and actors use to make a great film. I don’t use fancy words to describe a performance or a scene. I am just a guy from California by way of South Carolina who has watched movies since he was six and knows what he likes when he sees it.
So, here’s my list. As you can guess most are horror movies but with a few non-genre films tossed in for balance. I don’t think my choices will surprise anyone; but who knows. There is no particular order to the selections.
1. The Thing (1982)-John Carpenter
Alright, I told a little white lie. There is no way that I was not going to put this movie anywhere but Number 1. The Thing is the best film of John Carpenter’s long career and is a perfect example of how hand-made special effects are far more convincing than something a four year old could do on a fucking computer. Isolation, paranoia and a creature that can assume any form; what more could you ask for in a movie?
2. The Howling (1981)-Joe Dante
Best werewolf movie ever made! Best werewolf transformation ever! These are not your daddy’s Lon Chaney Jr. werewolves. These are werewolves whose sole purpose is to keep you, me and Little Red Riding Hood in therapy for the rest of our lives. I fell in love with Dee Wallace in this movie. There was no way I could have shot her; it would have been like shooting Ole Yeller.
I’m cheating quite a bit with this selection as Hostel and Hostel Part II are two entirely different movies. But then again, how different are they? Both feature dumb Americans in foreign countries who get in way over their heads. Both feature torture and gore. Even the Bubble Gum Gang makes an appearance in both movies. Why do I love these two sicko movies so much? I have no fucking idea! Best line goes to Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) for “I get a lot of money for you, and that makes you MY bitch.”
4. Goodfellas (1990)-Martin Scorcese
Where do I start? I take nothing away from The Godfather; but in my humble opinion Goodfellas is the definitive gangster movie. I could, and did, write an entire post on this one movie. Give me time and I could write 10 more. There are so many great scenes in this film; Henry and Karen’s first date and that masterful tracking shot, Tommy’s death and Jimmy’s heartbreaking reaction. Last but not least there’s that great scene:
Henry Hill: You’re a pistol, you’re really funny. You’re really funny.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean I’m funny?
Henry Hill: It’s funny, you know. It’s a good story, it’s funny, you’re a funny guy.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?
Henry Hill: It’s just, you know. You’re just funny, it’s… funny, the way you tell the story and everything.
Tommy DeVito: [it becomes quiet] Funny how? What’s funny about it?
Anthony Stabile: Tommy no, You got it all wrong.
Tommy DeVito: Oh, oh, Anthony. He’s a big boy, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how?
Henry Hill: Jus…
Tommy DeVito: What?
Henry Hill: Just… ya know… you’re funny.
Tommy DeVito: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it’s me, I’m a little fucked up maybe, but I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
Henry Hill: Just… you know, how you tell the story, what?
Tommy DeVito: No, no, I don’t know, you said it. How do I know? You said I’m funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what’s funny!
Henry Hill: [long pause] Get the fuck out of here, Tommy!
Tommy DeVito: [everyone laughs] Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.
5. Taxi Driver (1976)-Martin Scorcese
Taxi Driver is one of the most perfect American movies ever made and by far the greatest performance of Robert De Niro’s career. It is a paranoid journey into the seedy heart of New York City. It is a film that the lonely can understand and that the rest of us can be awed by. The scene where Travis is pleading with Betsy over the phone is one of the most heart wrenching in movie history.
6. Role Models (2008)-David Wain
What? Did you seriously think I wouldn’t take a comedy with me? If I watched the other movies on the list without having something to laugh at I’d go insane. This goofy movie about two losers forced into community service at a Big Brother type program makes me LOL and ROFLMAO every time I see it. So take that, Reindeer Games. I know; you’re not Ben Affleck. You know something? You white, you Ben Affleck.
7. Inside aka À l’intérieur (2007)-Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
I had heard that the French were making some brutal horror movies lately. I didn’t believe it at first; and then I saw Martyrs and this movie, Inside, and my eyes were opened. Brutal does not even begin to describe this movie. Beátrice Dalle is fucking terrifying in this film about a woman, her unborn child and the woman who will do anything to make it her own. Inside is intense!
8. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (2003 and 2004)-Quentin Tarantino
The Kill Bill films are my absolute favorite Tarantino films. QT pays homage to nearly every genre that he can cram into the narrative of his tale about a vengeful bride and Bill, the son of a bitch who shot her down. You’ve never met anyone quite like The Bride, Bill and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.
My one book would have to be Ghoul by Michael Slade. This was Slade’s second novel and the first that I read. After that I haven’t missed one since. Slade’s books are mystery, history and bloody horror all rolled into one brilliant little package. Ghoul is a masterpiece.
As for my luxury item that would be a toothbrush. If she were with me my wife would at least want me to have healthy teeth and gums.
- Pairing a Spooky Movie with the Ideal Sweet Snack for a Halloween Date (berries.com)
- Eli Roth Recruited Amazonian Villagers For ‘Green Inferno’ With ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ & Boats (movieline.com)
- A2: Research & Planning – Trailer Analysis: Hostel (slideshare.net)
- Goodfellas : Keeping It in the Family (mraybould.wordpress.com)
- Schnook (somecamerunning.typepad.com)
- Toronto After Dark Short Film Roundup Part 2 (Matt Hodgson) (entertainmentmaven.com)
- [From the Ashes] October Horror Part III: John Carpenter Edition (fromtheashesrpg.blogspot.com)
- Eli Roth Shows Villagers Their First Movie – Luckily, Not One of His Own (geektyrant.com)
- Eli Roth Borrows Werner Herzog’s Tactics to Shoot Cannibal Movie ‘The Green Inferno’ (slashfilm.com)
- ‘Halloween’: John Carpenter classic returns for theatrical run (herocomplex.latimes.com)
ALIEN-United States/United Kingdom-1979
Directed by Ridley Scott
Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon
I couldn’t believe it. I checked and double-checked and still I couldn’t believe it. I’ve reviewed everything from Halloween to The Howling to Dead Hooker in a Trunk for this blog and yet there is one glaring omission.
I’ve never reviewed Alien.
But then again maybe ‘reviewed’ is too harsh a word. To say that I have never reviewed this film would perhaps indicate that I am going to tell you not only about its strengths but also about its weaknesses. Alien has no weaknesses. It is similar to its titular creature in that it is the perfect science fiction/horror film hybrid. It is even more perfect than John Carpenter’s masterpiece of xenomorphic terror, The Thing and that is a truly bold statement as that film is my favorite of all time.
You don’t believe that Alien is the perfect sci-fi/horror film? Just ask the 17 year-old boy that sat with his fingers over his eyes in that dark movie theater in South Carolina in 1979. This young man watched in horror at the screen as this huge ship with a strange name, Nostromo, and a small crew picked up a distress signal in the far reaches of space. He watched as it began with a parasite that hugged tight the man’s face and planted its seed in his stomach. We all know what happened next; so much blood and a creature that in its infancy screamed its way across a blood-soaked table and into cinematic history. I can assure you it would not stay an infant for very long. One by one like the characters in a twisted version of an Agatha Christie novel it picks off the crew of the Nostromo until only one is left alive. Oh, and don’t think I’m telling you who. There is always that remote chance that some unlucky soul has never seen this cinematic work of art and I will not be the one to spoil it for them.
It has now been 33 years since Alien made its debut. There have been three sequels and two other films that have crossed over into the mythos of another creature, the Predator. Each film has met with varying degrees of success or notoriety. None of them, and I mean absolutely none of them will ever have the impact that this first film in the series had on me all those years ago. So, no, this is not a review as you are familiar with the word; it is merely a labor of love.
Thank you, Ridley Scott. Thank you, Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Finally, thank you Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. As much as I have always loved the movies, you made me love them even more.
Originally to be directed by Walter Hill, but he pulled out and gave the job to Ridley Scott.
The rumor that the cast, except for John Hurt, did not know what would happen during the chestburster scene is partly true. The scene had been explained for them, but they did not know specifics. For instance, Veronica Cartwright did not expect to be sprayed with blood.
H.R. Giger’s initial designs for the facehugger were held by US Customs who were alarmed at what they saw. Writer Dan O’Bannon had to go to LAX to explain to them that they were designs for a horror movie.
The screen test that bagged Sigourney Weaver the role of Ripley was her speech from her final scene.
The original title was “Star Beast”.
There is no dialog for the first 6 minutes.
- Review: “The Thing” (1982) (viewerscommentary.wordpress.com)
- Great Scene: “Alien” (gointothestory.blcklst.com)
- Happy Birthday to Sigourney Weaver & Comic Review: “Alien – The Illustrated Story” by Goodwin & Simonson (lezgetreal.com)
- Alien Anthology [Blu-ray] $29.99 (ritholtz.com)
- Ridley Scott Explains Prometheus, Is Lovably Insane (tor.com)
- Review: Alien (ch2289.wordpress.com)
- Movie Discussion: Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) (girlmeetsfreak.com)
- Alien (1979) Macabre month of horror #11 (greencarbon2112.wordpress.com)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines Impressions — Xenomorphs At NYCC 2012 (g4tv.com)
- Maybe ‘Prometheus’ Would Have Been Better Without Any People in It (theatlantic.com)
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13-United States-1976
Written and Directed by John Carpenter
Let’s play a game, you and I. It’s a simple game of word association. I’ll tell you a name and you tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Are you ready?
Now, I never said I was good at this game. But did you notice that there’s a pattern to my madness? We know John Carpenter for his horror and for his science fiction films; but do we always remember that he was also the director of one of the best low budget action films of the 1970′s, “Assault on Precinct 13?” Watching this film I began to see the thematic templates that Carpenter would follow throughout most of his career. A small group of people under siege by an unseen or alien (or both) force; an anti-hero who puts his life on the line for the greater good; a soundtrack created by Carpenter himself that throbs along with, and against the beat of the action. All of these things have been evident in Carpenter’s films for years and I truly believe that this is where they began.
After a gang member murders his young daughter, a father kills him in retaliation. When the man seeks refuge in Precinct 13, the gang lays siege to the station; shooting it up and killing anything that moves inside. After the smoke clears the only ones left standing inside the station are a cop (Austin Stoker, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes“), a secretary (Laurie Zimmer) and two convicts, Wells (Tony Burton, “Rocky”) and a death row bound Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston, “The Fog”). Outnumbered and outgunned, will they survive the assault on Precinct 9, District 13?
The highlight of this film would have to be Joston’s performance as Wilson. He takes a stereotypical character, the guy with nothing left to lose, and makes it completely his own. There’s a lot of Snake Plissken and R.J. MacReady in Napoleon Wilson.
“Assault on Precinct 13″ was inspired in part by Howard Hawk’s “Rio Bravo“. I’ve never seen “Rio Bravo”; but if it’s anything at all like ‘Precinct 13′ then I’m in for a treat.
Got a smoke?
Following the release of his first feature, Dark Star, John Carpenter was approached by a group of investors who gave him carte blanche to make whatever kind of picture he wanted, albeit with a very limited budget. Although Carpenter wanted to make a Western, he knew he wouldn’t have the resources to make a period piece. He wrote this film as a highly stylized, modern-day western, essentially remaking Rio Bravo, which was directed by Carpenter’s hero, Howard Hawks. Carpenter acknowledges this debt to Hawks and “Rio Bravo” by using the pseudonym of John T. Chance for his film editor’s credit, which was the name of John Wayne’s character in “Rio Bravo”.
The assault takes place on Precinct 9, Division 13. Many have noted the title misnomer, since there is no “Precinct 13″ in the film. At first, Carpenter wanted to call the film “The Anderson Alamo” (the original title of his screenplay), and, at one point, he changed the working title to “The Siege.” CKK, the film’s distributor, was responsible for the misnomer; they rejected Carpenter’s titles and came up with the name “Assault on Precinct 13″ (which they felt was more ominous sounding) during post-production.
The precinct’s new address, 1977 Ellendale Place (written on a sign erected in front of the building), was director John Carpenter’s real address when he first lived in Los Angeles.
John Carpenter has acknowledged Night of the Living Dead was an influence on the marauding street gang. Like George Romero’s zombies, they’re completely dehumanized. They hardly talk and almost seem supernatural in their ongoing resilience.
- John Carpenter on how to give people the creeps (arts.nationalpost.com)
- John Carpenter to hit Fan Expo (lfpress.com)
- Flashback Weekend 2012: John Carpenter Panel Highlights Part Two (dreadcentral.com)
- Our Daily Trailer: JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS (badassdigest.com)
- Flashback Weekend 2012: John Carpenter Panel Highlights Part One (dreadcentral.com)
- Tell me a movie! (moviemorlocks.com)
- Jarv’s Birthday Series Redux: The Thing (1982) (moonwolves.wordpress.com)
- Beak – >> (thequietus.com)
- The Walking Dead Episode 3: Long Road Ahead [Review] (incgamers.com)
- Apocalypse Of The Dead (2009) (horror-movie-a-day.blogspot.com)
It’s very simple; I give you three directors and their respective filmography and you tell me what you think is their very best movie. I do list TV movies; but only if they are an original piece (“Duel”) and not an already established series (“C.S.I.”).
Without further ado, I give you:
DARK STAR (1974)
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976)
SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME! (TV Movie, 1978)
ELVIS (TV Movie,1979)
THE FOG (1980)
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)
THE THING (1982)
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986)
PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987)
THEY LIVE (1988)
MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN (1992)
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1994)
VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1995)
ESCAPE FROM L.A. (1996)
GHOSTS OF MARS (2001)
THE WARD (2010)
CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (1970)
JIM RITCHIE SCULPTOR (TV Movie, 1971)
LETTER FROM MICHELANGELO (TV Movie, 1971)
TOURETTES (TV Movie, 1971)
THEY CAME FROM WITHIN (1975)
FAST COMPANY (1979)
THE BROOD (1979)
THE DEAD ZONE (1983)
THE FLY (1986)
DEAD RINGERS (1988)
NAKED LUNCH (1991)
M. BUTTERFLY (1993)
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005)
EASTERN PROMISES (2007)
A DANGEROUS METHOD (2011)
MURDER Á LA MOD (1968)
THE WEDDING PARTY (1969)
HI, MOM! (1970)
GET TO KNOW YOUR RABBIT (1972)
PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974)
THE FURY (1978)
HOME MOVIES (1980)
DRESSED TO KILL (1980)
BLOW OUT (1981)
BODY DOUBLE (1984)
WISE GUYS (1986)
THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987)
CASUALTIES OF WAR (1989)
THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES (1990)
RAISING CAIN (1992)
CARLITO’S WAY (1993)
SNAKE EYES (1998)
MISSION TO MARS (2000)
FEMME FATALE (2002)
THE BLACK DAHLIA (2006)
I can’t wait to hear from you. Take care and stay scared!!
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Directed by John Gulager
If you enter into watching “Feast” with lowered expectations, then you’re not going to be disappointed. Think John Carpenter‘s “Assault on Precinct 13“; but set in a hick bar with douchebags, barflys and dumb-asses surrounded by bloodthirsty creatures that are as horny as they are hungry (they hump each other on the hood of a car and out pops baby monster). They’ve got big teeth and big Johnson’s and no one has any idea where they came from. As I re-read that last sentence it seems confusing to me. The trailer for “Feast” tells us that they were created by the military as a secret weapon and that before they could be used on the enemy they had to be field tested…on us. Now, unless I missed something somewhere or wasn’t paying attention in class there is no mention of this anywhere in the movie. What I do know is that I was hoping for half the people in the bar to become monster food. Balthazar Getty (“Ladder 49″), leads the merry assortment of idiots that include Henry Rollins (“Wrong Turn 2: Dead End“), Clu Gulager (“Return of the Living Dead”) and Judah Friedlander (“The Wrestler”). Needless to say I wouldn’t trust these losers with cap guns, much less shotguns and Molotov cocktails. It comes as no surprise that the women of this film, Krista Allen and Navi Rawat in particular, are the ones that give these bumpkins any chance of seeing the light of day. Feast is directed in a fast paced, take no prisoners style that has become the thing to do these last few years or so. One thing I found amusing for a while is the way that the characters were introduced. A short bio with their name, occupation and life expectancy is flashed across the screen. It’s funny but it wears out its welcome quickly. Like I said at the beginning; don’t expect too much and you will not be disappointed. Dig any deeper and it all falls apart.
Clu Gulager, the actor playing Bartender, is the father of the film’s director, John Gulager. Also, Diane Ayala Goldner, who plays Harley Mama, is John’s wife.
The movie’s development was part of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight 3 program.
The role of Hero was offered to Mark Wahlberg, but he turned it down. Josh Duhamel was also interested but forced to drop out for scheduling conflicts.
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Directed by John Carpenter
Screenplay by Frank Armitage
Based on “Eight O’clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson
The one thing I can say about John Carpenter is that he’s a crazy genius. Leave it to him to cast “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in the role of a drifter who discovers a pair of sunglasses that enable him to see the subliminal messages of an alien race intent on lulling humans into a false sense of security. Piper is perfect as Nada. Carpenter realized that his experience as a professional wrestler would come in handy for two reasons. Piper’s microphone skills were the ultimate screen test for the hilarious one-liners he delivers in “They Live”. “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum”. “Life’s a bitch…and she’s back in heat.” “You know, you look like your head fell in the cheese dip back in 1957.” None of these lines could have been delivered with any kind of authority by anyone but Piper.
The other reason Piper is perfect for the role is his ability to sell a fight scene. Watch the fight between Piper’s character Nada and Frank (Keith David-”The Thing”, “There’s Something about Mary”). The scene is played out like an “I Quit” match. The sunglasses that Nada so desperately attempts to have Frank try on take the place of the microphone that Piper would shove in his opponents face in the hopes of hearing those words.
“They Live” works in other ways besides Piper’s casting. Carpenter may not be the most subtle director; but he has a point. Haven’t you always wondered that there was something more to what you read and watch on TV? Who knows, maybe I’m sending out subliminal messages with this blog. Maybe I’m saying “READ THIS BLOG” “YOU LOVE THIS BLOG” “THIS BLOG IS YOUR FRIEND”.
I can dream, can’t I?
The line “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” was ad-libbed by Roddy Piper. According to director John Carpenter, Piper had taken the line from a list of ideas he had for his pro wrestling interviews.
The fight between Nada (Roddy Piper) and Frank (Keith David) was only supposed to last 20 seconds, but Piper and David decided to fight it out for real, only faking the hits to the face and groin. They rehearsed the fight for three weeks. Carpenter was so impressed he kept the 5 minute and 20 second scene intact.
John Carpenter wanted a truly rugged individual to play Nada. He cast wrestler Roddy Piper in the lead role after seeing him in WrestleMania III. Carpenter remembered Keith David’s performance in The Thing and wrote the role of Frank specifically for the actor.
Roddy Piper’s character never gives his name nor is he referred to by name throughout the entire movie. He is simply referred to as “Nada” in the credits, which means “nothing” in Spanish. The name is most likely a reference to George Nada, the main character of Ray Nelson’s short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning,” which was the basis for ‘They Live’.
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This question is for the older gentlemen in the audience; how many of you had this poster hanging on your walls when you were teenagers? Raise your hands. Wait; keep them up so I can take a count. Wow, that many? Okay, now how many decided to forego the tape or thumbtacks and hold up the poster with only one hand? No wait, don’t answer that. That falls under the Too Much Information act of 2012. Anyway, my last few Scream Queens have been dedicated to the younger ladies of the horror genre. So I thought it would be fair that I would feature one of the beauties that helped pave the way.
Adrienne Barbeau became known to audiences as Carol Traynor, the divorced daughter of Bea Arthur’s titular character “Maude”. The popular show ran on CBS television from 1972-1978. She made her first dive into the horror genre when she starred in her then-husband John Carpenter‘s made-for-TV film “Someone’s Watching Me” (1978). From that point on she starred in Carpenter’s “The Fog” (1980) and ”Escape from New York” (1981), “Swamp Thing” (1982), directed by Wes Craven, and George Romero’s “Creepshow” (1982), based on tales written by horror author Stephen King ; as well as Dario Argento and George Romero’s directorial team-up “Two Evil Eyes” (1990). Her latest genre film was the SyFy original “War Wolves“. In addition to films she has starred as the voice of Catwoman on the acclaimed “Batman: The Animated Series” and has had roles on “The Drew Carey Show“, “Carnivale” and “Dexter”, just to name a few. Her autobiography is entitled “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and was published in 2006 and she is also the author of the novel “Vampyres of Hollywood” as well as its sequel. It is her busy schedule and her longtime contribution to the world of horror and science fiction that Written in Blood honors the beautiful Adrienne Barbeau as the Scream Queen of the Month for July, 2012.
Is of French and Armenian ancestry.
In 1978, a poster of Adrienne Barbeau wearing a tight purple corset was a bestseller. The poster’s image later served as a cover photo for her autobiography.
Sister-in-law of musician and actor Steve Van Zandt.
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