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RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 10/2/2006 8:31:29 PM   
sushiandrice


Posts: 606
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: The Village of the Damned.
Ghosts of Mars is a worthless piece of nothing, and it breaks my heart to see the mighty fall, but I'll be damned if history doesn't view John Carpenter as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

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Post #: 31
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 10/2/2006 9:26:41 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
I cant help feeling that Ghosts Of Mars (which i do enjoy) came from the often talked about storyline for Escape From Earth.
Watching Ice Cube's role it would be so simple to re-cast him with Kurt Russell as Snake Plisken.


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Post #: 32
JOHN CARPENTER - 11/2/2006 2:41:17 AM   
Alistair

 

Posts: 2397
Joined: 1/10/2005
I'm not a fan of horror films. I'm not even a fan of John Carpenter, yet Halloween just creeps me out like no other film I've ever seen. For 'jumps' it's second only to Jaws.

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Post #: 33
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 11/2/2006 8:14:21 AM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
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Halloween...most people dont even seem to realise that theres very little blood in the film whatsoever.

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Post #: 34
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 11/2/2006 4:20:49 PM   
kdawg

 

Posts: 304
Joined: 12/11/2005
I, like many was brought up on John Carpenter movies, my Dad sat me down a we watched Halloween together, it had a profound effect on me, the structure, the music; the Shape. It's only on repeat veiwing that you appreciate how brilliantly Carpenter manipulates the mood with the first person shoots of the breathing shape, the use if music to highlight the knife penetration and of course humour to lull us into a false sense of security. He's been borrowed from but never bettered in the slasher genre, to the extent that Valentine is just plagerism.
In 2002 i went to the Carpenter all night movie marathon at the Curzon in the west end and shared in the pure love of Carpenter with a full house.
The night started with They Live followed by Escape from New York then The Thing and the night ended on Dark Star. All very different and awseome for the same reason, Carpenter. I pray that he has one more classic in him but keep getting dissapointed, purhaps its over but what a legacy.

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Post #: 35
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 12/2/2006 11:12:20 AM   
NadaPlissken


Posts: 1297
Joined: 4/12/2005
From: Hobb's End
I'm reluctant to class Carpenter as a "horror" director.  I once heard someone say he “specialised” in the slasher genre, which is completely wrong.  Joe Average only seems to know him for Halloween, which is sad.  People watch Halloween, and then Ghosts of Mars, and think “what the hell?”, probably for good reason.  But Ghosts of Mars is far truer to Carpenter’s style of cheap, hugely entertaining, western stylised siege/action films. 

Really, if They Live was released today, who would like it?  It would get trashed for having a wrestler in the lead, and cheesy FX etc etc; similar to what Ghosts of Mars gets nowadays.  If Ghosts of Mars came out in 1987 and They Live 2001, which would have the cult following and which would be getting trashed by everyone and his brother?

Carpenter knows what makes a good B movie.  Clearly, his critics don’t.


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Post #: 36
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 12/2/2006 8:59:49 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
John Carpenter is no way a Horror Director. Hes done more Science Fiction films than Horror although he will always be known mostly for John 'Halloween' Carpenter.


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Post #: 37
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 12/2/2006 9:19:01 PM   
Baby Bear


Posts: 5544
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From: Back stalking Wilbert....oh, yes...
I actually really enjoyed Prince of Darkness , which very few people remember. It's worth it for Donald Pleasance alone.

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Post #: 38
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 12/2/2006 9:24:15 PM   
Shawlord


Posts: 546
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: The Sands, Las Vegas 1950's
quote:

ORIGINAL: NadaPlissken
Joe Average only seems to know him for Halloween, which is sad. 


If you are only going to be widely known for one film then it may as well be one as influential and agelessly frightening as Halloween.  It is my favourite horror film and one of my favourite films of any genre.  Visually it is an incredibly dark film which is where most peoples fears intrinsically lie, too many modern horror films take place in bubble gum American high school surroundings and fail to use the one element that can never fail to unnerve.  Darkness.

For this one film alone I am a huge fan of John Carpenter.  The only other films I have seen of his is are The Fog, which I thought was okay and The Thing which I love.  Again, and even with the brightness of the snow, this film is also very visually dark and deals with another intrinsic fear, isolation.

I would absolutely love to see some of his early films which have titles that surely belong in that magnificent sci-fi thread in Movie Musings;  Gorgon the Space Monster, Revenge of the Colossal Beasts, Sorceror from Outer Space...

I think Carpenter would struggle to come up with anything that would be deamed greater than Halloween but something along the same lines of The Thing would be good.  He should get together with the people behind Dog Soldiers, perhaps add Rick Baker to the mix and see what happens...

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Post #: 39
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 13/2/2006 8:34:00 AM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: stuartbannerman

John Carpenter is no way a Horror Director. Hes done more Science Fiction films than Horror although he will always be known mostly for John 'Halloween' Carpenter.



The easiest fit for categorization would be that John Carpenter is a genre director - he seems best at home making Action, horror and sci-fi - his biggest output it in genre films.Even his most human drama, Starman has its roots in sci-fi.
 
quote:

ORIGINAL: NadaPlissken
Joe Average only seems to know him for Halloween, which is sad. 


If I were a filmmaker and I was best known for Halloween - I would consider that an incredible accolade - the film is as close to perfect Carpenter has ever come, though that's not to take away from some of his other work.

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Post #: 40
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 13/2/2006 10:29:42 AM   
Mojo


Posts: 6053
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: The CIC, next to the old man.
quote:

ORIGINAL: Companero

If I were a filmmaker and I was best known for Halloween - I would consider that an incredible accolade - the film is as close to perfect Carpenter has ever come


Apart from The Thing, which is perfect. No room for argument.

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Post #: 41
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 13/2/2006 10:58:26 AM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
The Thing is a great film and is certainly one of the more memorable films of the 80s but IMO, Halloween is Carpenter's best film.

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Post #: 42
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 13/2/2006 8:32:41 PM   
The Todge


Posts: 592
Joined: 30/9/2005
Ah the fall oh Carpenter.  One of life's great mysteries.  How does a man capable of directing soem of the greatest films of all time (The Thing, Halloween, hell even Escape From New York), end up resorting to making traashy low grade garbage like Vampires and Ghosts of Mars.

I still dont have the answer.  Im just about to watch his Masters of Horror episode, so Ill see what thats like, but my opinion at the moment sands that he doesnt have an ounce of talent left in his body and no way do I want him anywhere near a really meaty horror project again.  Especially The Thing 2 if it ever gets made.

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Post #: 43
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 14/2/2006 7:10:17 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England

My constant complaint about post-80s Carpenter, which I like to scream to the rafters every chance I get, is that the reason JC's body of work has become has so bad lately, is that many of his simpatico collaboraters of his early era have left him, or moved on to bigger and better things. While JC is in every way an auteur, filmmaking is still a collaborative process, and it seems like Carpenter has been working with a B-level crew over the last decade. The most devastating loss was the switch from Dean Cundey as his DP (Director of Photography) to the very bland, TV-movie-ish Gary Kibbe, who, while competent, is awfully uninspired, making little use out of JC's trademark Panavision, and instead settling for a flat look that looks, as I like to say, Made for USA Network.

Think about it. In his salad days, from 1976 with ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, through roughly THEY LIVE, Carpenter was a prolific cause celebre among genre filmmakers. He cranked out a solid, gritty, cynical, edgy B-movie about once a year, and even showed signs of maturing with the more ambitious THE THING, STARMAN, and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Unfortunately, at least two of those three were, at the time, pretty conspicuous bombs at the Box Office, and he retreated to B pictures with the one-two punch of PRINCE OF DARKNESS and THEY LIVE. No shame in those two at all, but something funny happened around this time.

After THEY LIVE, the prolific director retreated and didn't make a movie again for over three years, not unusual for others, maybe, but certainly for Carpenter, who returned with a hired-gun job on MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN. I actually like this movie, especially Sam Neil's villain, but the JC trademarks were all missing -- the synth score, the white on black credits, the cool supporting turns from, say, Tom Atkins and Charles Cyphers.

He then returned (sort of) to form with IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, which is sadly beginning to look more and more like the last really competent JC film. Good cast, good concept. My only complaint, again, was that his style seemed a little watered down here -- the old moody synth drones replaced by wah-wah guitar straight out of the hair metal era, the somewhat flat compositions by Kibbe.

Unfortunately, it's been pretty down hill since then. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED is watchable, but icy and mean-spirited; compare VILLAGE with ESCAPE FROM NY or THE THING, and you'll be shocked by the drop in quality in virtually every aspect of filmmaking.

ESCAPE FROM L.A. is a fun romp, and Russell is a riot in his second go at Snake Plissken, but as has been said ad nauseum, it's basically a lighter remake of the original, with shitty special effects and a bland visual style that does nothing to hide them. Whereas the earlier film was all black-and-blue murk and grit, this one's chintzy and flat, with some of the clunkiest production design to ever grace a $50 million film.

VAMPIRES and GHOSTS OF MARS -- the less said, the better. Excepting James Woods' hilarious performance in the former, these both seem like JC doing an imitation of Robert Rodriguez doing an imitation of Carpenter. Bland red-tinted lensing, dull compositions, and annoying use of dissolves which look like they're merely covering for JC not shooting enough coverage. It's weird; To hear JC on his commentary tracks, even for these films, he's still sharp as a tack. It's not like he's feeble, just maybe bored. Sadly, that boredom, or simple not caring, is showing through more and more in the films themselves. 

 
My take on John Carpenter's early Feature Films (1976-1982):

Dark Star is definitley one to watch to say you've seen all of his films. It was childishly amatuer, little more than an exercise to see what he could do

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) - Again is very early, and Carpenter really doesn't have his groove, but you can see it forming in every shot. Decent cast with acceptable acting, and the start of his signature panovision. A dark and surprisingly suspenseful action picture, which really got the ball rolling for Carpenter's reputation as a director. He integrates action, western and horror elements into a basic story of survival. It has gained a cult following among fans of the director's work and low-budget action movies in general.

Halloween (1978) - The movie that would put Carpenter on the map, and become a classic horror film of the "slasher" subgenre that it started. Not to mention, it gave birth to a very successful franchise that still continues today (thanks to the original's financer, Moustapha Akkad). If one was forced to choose a favorite from the director's body of work, it would have to be this one. The "shape" remains scarier than Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees combined. He is an unstoppable force without a soul or motives of any kind.

The Fog (1980) - A film that has been praised on many occasions for its "atmosphere", which Carpenter is known for already, but here he truly makes a film that is creepy from start to finish. Every element that is used in it manages to add a layer of atmosphere to the story (such as its music, cinematography, location, mise-en-scene and even acting). You might say it did for fog what Psycho (1960) did for showers and Jaws (1975) did for water. It is definitely one of Carpenter's less well-known classics.

Escape From New York (1981) - The character of Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is considered one of the great anti-heroes of our time, and that's mostly because he's a stone cold bad ass who doesn't take shit from anybody. It should also be noted that he's a criminal, who is forced into taking a mission to save the President. Russell's performance carries this movie, plus it has enough thrills and campy dialogue to make the whole ride worth taking. Also, just like in 'Assault', Carpenter blends multiple storytelling elements into the film, so it ends up being more than just another action movie. This film is not to be confused with its inferior sequel, Escape From L.A. (1995).

The Thing (1982) - Still one of the scariest movies ever made. This is maybe my favourite Carpenter film. The gross out effects are some of the best ever, and acting is top knotch. My absolute favorite "trust no one" movie. It was obvious in Halloween that Carpenter admired the original 'Thing' movie, since it was playing on the T.V. in the background, while Jamie Lee Curtis was babysitting. His remake is rather well-regarded, and is considered to be another one of his classics. This movie has an ensemble cast, but isn't too character driven. The actors deliver convincing performances and the direction is completely solid. The creative special effects and boiling tension are what highlight this entertaining science fiction movie. This marked the second feature film collaboration between Carpenter and Russell (who would later work together on Big Trouble in Little China (1985) and Escape From L.A. as well).

IMHO, John Carpenter is second to none in his field of moviemaking. Good or bad, you always end up with some form of entertainment. And for that I truly tip my hat

< Message edited by Ant_1971 -- 14/2/2006 7:43:34 PM >

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Post #: 44
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 14/2/2006 7:38:44 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
Ps, What does everyone rate as a defining Carpenter 'moment'?

For me, Im split between the following:

In Halloween......the Shape's appearance in amongst the washing line in the back garden as Laurie looks on.........to the time he steps behind the hedge as Laurie & friends approach him......to the time the Shape dresses as the 'ghost' with just the glasses on. All MOMUMENTAL Carpenter!!

In They Live........the overhead shot as Roddy Piper gets smacked on the head with a bottle (to fall out of the window and down the cliff/ hill). Pior to the actual 'hit', all angles are as normal and low down - with the 'high and above' coming from nowhere, almost like the bottle itself. Classic

And finally The Thing........the blood sample scene. Simply incredible.....and my all time favourite scene. Words fail me how good this actually is

I can't choose between any of them!!!!  Whatcha think Carp fans??

< Message edited by Ant_1971 -- 14/2/2006 7:49:03 PM >

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Post #: 45
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 14/2/2006 9:11:18 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
The most memorable moments in John Carpenters films for me are:

The shot of The Shape standing behind Jamie Lee Curtis, the light changes to show the mask of Michael Myers appear to us.

Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken complete with Clint Eastwood style gravel voice.

John Carpenters film scores..


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Post #: 46
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 14/2/2006 10:00:35 PM   
Mojo


Posts: 6053
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: The CIC, next to the old man.
quote:

ORIGINAL: Ant_1971


And finally The Thing........the blood sample scene. Simply incredible.....and my all time favourite scene. Words fail me how good this actually is


I think that's the one for me. Absolutely fantastic from start to finish.

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Post #: 47
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 14/2/2006 11:12:58 PM   
TrippyHippy

 

Posts: 8
Joined: 14/2/2006
I think Halloween is an excellently crafted film and The Thing is to me the best representation of H.P. Lovecraft's style of horror that has been made in cinema (go read The Mountains of Madness). I think Carpenter also showed a fine skill for making perfectly paced thrillers, horrors and sci-fi films with minimal budgets in his early years. All his early movies made good money for his investers because of this reason. The problem is that he never really adapted to being given bigger budgets in his later career. At heart, his artistic style is minimalist - which is obviously wasted when he can just buy anything he wants! As such, I feel his later work never really lived up to the hype.

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Post #: 48
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 15/2/2006 10:18:14 AM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
quote:

ORIGINAL: stuartbannerman

The shot of The Shape standing behind Jamie Lee Curtis, the light changes to show the mask of Michael Myers appear to us.


For years I didn't see this as i had Halloween on Pan & Scan VHS. Proof right there that the ONLY way to see Carpenter films is in widescreen. I don't think this point has been mentioned yet in the thread, and its true to say you dont actually SEE a JC movie until its there in all its anamorphic glory.

That scene took my breath away. Respect to his D of P Dean Cundy indeed. Top post Stu!

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Post #: 49
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 15/2/2006 10:28:20 AM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: Ant_1971

quote:

ORIGINAL: stuartbannerman

The shot of The Shape standing behind Jamie Lee Curtis, the light changes to show the mask of Michael Myers appear to us.


For years I didn't see this as i had Halloween on Pan & Scan VHS. Proof right there that the ONLY way to see Carpenter films is in widescreen. I don't think this point has been mentioned yet in the thread, and its true to say you dont actually SEE a JC movie until its there in all its anamorphic glory.

That scene took my breath away. Respect to his D of P Dean Cundy indeed. Top post Stu!


I think Stuart's example just highlights the fact that Carpenter made films for the cinema and never considered how his films would look on TV - just like David Lean and Sergio Leone had. You cannot compromise the scope compositions of Carpenter's films.
 
It's wonderful that widescreen framing has been embraced on home video formats the way it has over the past 15 years. Without wanting to sound pretentious - a serious film enthusiast is not going  to watch an 80 minute version of a 2 hour film, so why would we settle for a two thirds of an anamorphic frame, as seen in a pan & scan version? I do not except fullscreen versions of films shot in CinemaScope, Panavison or the like and will NEVER watch them - it's as simple as that.

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Post #: 50
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 15/2/2006 10:41:17 AM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
Absolutely spot on. Couldn't have wrote that better myself!   As soon as W/S vhs came out it became the only way to go.....for so long the only option was pan & scan, and it was like seeing the same film I'd watched for years for the first time again. (Halloween being a good point in question)

God bless the invention of widescreen televisions! (Can you imagine being stuck with a 4/3 ratio home cinema screen set up?!)   Nasty! 

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Post #: 51
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 15/2/2006 11:06:47 AM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: Ant_1971

Absolutely spot on. Couldn't have wrote that better myself!   As soon as W/S vhs came out it became the only way to go.....for so long the only option was pan & scan, and it was like seeing the same film I'd watched for years for the first time again. (Halloween being a good point in question)

God bless the invention of widescreen televisions! (Can you imagine being stuck with a 4/3 ratio home cinema screen set up?!)   Nasty! 


The studios seemed to have a very slap-dash attitude to widescreen and it was never guaranteed that a film would get put out in its original ratio. LaserDisc was a great format for establishing letterboxing but it wasn’t until DVD that it became the norm.
 
You’re so right though, Ant. When we finally got hold of widescreen versions of classic films it was like rediscovering a film. Not only were the compositions severely cropped on the pan and scan releases, many of the prints looked absolutely terrible, with washed out colours and Halloween is a case point example. I had the old sell-thru VHS release on the Channel 5 label. De Palma’s Scarface is another film that looked abysmal too.
 
I will say that if anyone here hasn’t seen Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween, Escape From New York and The Thing in their original widescreen ratios, they really haven’t seen the films at all. The framing of all four films is integral to the storytelling.

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Post #: 52
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 15/2/2006 1:38:18 PM   
TheMadFatChickKiller


Posts: 319
Joined: 30/1/2006
I'm a big fan of John Carpenter, faves includes Christine, The Thing, Escape from New York, and Big Trouble, but he's a product of his times. Like a lot of directors, he had a purple patch from the 70s to the 80s. But then the studio system changed in the mid-80s, as Execs prioritised formula, hi-concept and box-office timed to the holidays in favour of the earlier' risk-taking' approach (imagine trying to pitch Alien in the same year as Crocodile Dundee???)
 
Like others say here, Carpenter was of the same discipline as the Movie Brats, but closer in style to DePalma and Milius, more on the fringe, more vocal about what should serve the story, less willing to adapt. All of these guys have experienced the same arc, falling out of favour, finding it more and more difficult to get projects off the ground.

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Post #: 53
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 15/2/2006 2:11:16 PM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: TheMadFatChickKiller

Like others say here, Carpenter was of the same discipline as the Movie Brats, but closer in style to DePalma and Milius, more on the fringe, more vocal about what should serve the story, less willing to adapt. All of these guys have experienced the same arc, falling out of favour, finding it more and more difficult to get projects off the ground.


But Carpenter and De Palma always seemed to pursue the mega-sized, studio-financed hit that evaded them. Both director's seem to work at their best with smaller budgets. Even a director of the stature of De Palma and the Carpenter of the 80s have to compromise when making studio films. They may have final cut, but there still a lot of interferece from executives before a single frame is shot.

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Post #: 54
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 15/2/2006 8:35:55 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
and bless the movie god for persuading John Carpenter to give some of the best DVD commenteries out there..............the greatest being any that he has with Kurt Russell at his side (Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York, The Thing)

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Post #: 55
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 15/2/2006 11:09:06 PM   
Starscream


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From: Cats Lair
Dark Star is very underrated film which was the inspiration for Alien and Red Dwarf and is definitely a "cult" classic


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Post #: 56
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 16/2/2006 7:32:25 PM   
JonnyBoy

 

Posts: 1
Joined: 16/2/2006
I do love Mr. Carpenter, I do however believe that he is yet to top 'The Thing'. He has made so great films, some not so great, but 'The Thing' is just phenomenal. It just proves that anamatronics can be more impressive than CGI. A truly frightening film.


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Post #: 57
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 16/2/2006 10:07:57 PM   
paolo verdi


Posts: 171
Joined: 30/12/2005
Yes, he's made some duds, but he's also made some of THE greatest and influencial movies in cinema history. Dismissing him because of Ghosts of Mars and Memoirs of an Invisible Man is like judging Coppola on Jack, and ignoring Apocalypse Now and The Gofather (parts 1 & 2).

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Post #: 58
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 17/2/2006 9:27:32 AM   
Companero


Posts: 626
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: London Violenta, UK
quote:

ORIGINAL: paolo verdi

Yes, he's made some duds, but he's also made some of THE greatest and influencial movies in cinema history. Dismissing him because of Ghosts of Mars and Memoirs of an Invisible Man is like judging Coppola on Jack, and ignoring Apocalypse Now and The Gofather (parts 1 & 2).


That's a fair point. People seem to measure a filmmaker's career on their earlier, fresh and innovative work. Truth be told, many of the filmmakers that were at the top of their game in the 70s and 80s have had to diversify, some to give themselves inspiration and others just to make money and remain in the public eye, hence misguided choices such as Jack and almost everything directed by William Friedkin since 1985.

 
If you look closely at the filmmaking in general, a pattern emerges. It would appear that and with the exception of Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg (who both seem to be able to grasp what today's audiences want to see) it's the younger filmmakers that we continually look to for challenging films. At this point in time, we can count on the likes of Alexander Payne, Spike Jonze, PT Anderson and Darren Aronofsky to push our buttons but it's only a matter of time before they are superseded by the next generation.

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Post #: 59
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 17/2/2006 3:45:10 PM   
Silent Bob


Posts: 116
Joined: 30/9/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: Baby Bear

I actually really enjoyed Prince of Darkness , which very few people remember. It's worth it for Donald Pleasance alone.


Prince of Darkness was universally reviled upon it's initial release, however, it's now gaining a reputation as one of the better 80s Horror films. Defniately one of Carpenter's creepiest and genuinely scary.

As mentioned earlier "In the Mouth of Madness" is probably his last competent film, having said that I've heard good things about his episode of "Masters of Horror" (cigarette burns); possibly a return to form?

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This is my BOOM stick!

(in reply to Baby Bear)
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