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RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 10:18:10 AM   
Silent Bob


Posts: 116
Joined: 30/9/2005
What does everyone think about the ambiguous ending, who is the Thing?

I've ended up ordering "In the Mouth of Madness" thanks for this thread, been a while since I saw it on TV, so looking forward to seeing it in all it's 2.35:1 widescreen glory.

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Post #: 91
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 10:25:50 AM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
John Carpenter is on record as saying he loves the debate about The Thing's ending but says it was never meant that way and was just the way the camera didnt show some breath. Although he has spoken about an idea The Thing 2 where the two survivors are taken back to civilisation and The Thing is loose once more in the world........Not sure id like to see The Thing 2 nowadays......perhaps 20 years ago.

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Post #: 92
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 2:33:38 PM   
brucechimp

 

Posts: 6
Joined: 9/2/2006
I think his early films are amazing. Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, Escape From New York, The Fog, The Thing. All of them absolutely peerless. Halloween was fantastic. Has been ripped off by so many moronic slasher flicks since that certain things (ala bad guy coming back from the dead) have become genre staples. Christine and Starman were awful awful shit, but I’ll forgive him these as ‘blips’.
 
Something clearly went wrong somewhere though. ‘Escape From LA’ is proportionately bad to the fantastic-ness of ‘Escape From New York’. How could anyone make another Snake Plissken film with not only Steve Buscemi in it, but also Bruce Campbell, and still have turn out to be such a stinker is beyond me. Idiots will throw ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ at you and bleat on about how great it is, but they are in fact, sorely mistaken. It is an unexciting, unfunny mess. The last good film he made was ‘They Live’, which RULES. Hard.

It boggles my mind to try and comprehend that the same bloke who made those early films, now just shovels out drivel like ‘Vampires’ (James Woods living up to his name. He should have played a stake) and ‘Ghosts Of Mars’ which was just unspeakably awful. Criminal in fact.

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Post #: 93
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 3:20:34 PM   
clownfoot


Posts: 7931
Joined: 26/9/2005
From: The ickle town of Fuck, Austria
quote:

ORIGINAL: brucechimp
 Idiots will throw 'Big Trouble in Little China' at you and bleat on about how great it is, but they are in fact, sorely mistaken. It is an unexciting, unfunny mess.


How can you use the word "unfunny" when the film stars the delightfully stupid Jack Burton? The idiots will back this film for the misunderstood genius it is no matter what the goofs from planet numpty have to say otherwise...  

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Post #: 94
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 4:34:27 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
This thread got me into watching The Thing again last night. Hadn't seen it for a while, and it absolutely blew me away all over again. I highly recommend this to all you Carp fans out there who - like me - appreciate the unabounded genuis but haven't induldged in awhile. Tonight I'm smothering myself in some Halloween, tomorrow its Escape/ New York. How great is life now Empire have chose to shine its light on these masterpieces?!

The thing that smacked me about quite a bit in The Thing is the actual performance JC got on celuloid from the dog at the beginning of the film. I mean, its a fecking DOG for chrissakes, and the way it stared, the way it acted, the nuances of its performance was just the epitome of evil. Now THAT'S class from a director right there when you can get an animal to act! Amazing......absolutely amazing.

Have to say, i loved every minute of The Thing again. Highly recommended viewing for all. And in a word..... chuffin' brilliant.

Well, alright. Two.   

Ps, Well done to Companero and Stu Bannerman for making it in print in this months magazine! Well done fellas!!   

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Post #: 95
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 4:37:57 PM   
davidjthomson


Posts: 420
Joined: 7/10/2005
It sounds bad to say, but I wish John Carpenter had died in a car accident before he started his downward spiral towards DVD release only movies.  It's the same as Elvis (check out Elvis The Movie starring Kurt Russell!). 
Wouldn't you rather remember Elvis as young and attractive rather than the fat guy in a jumpsuit in Vegas?

I would certainly like to remember John Carpenter as one of the greatest directors of the 70s.

The other shame is that today's film makers are churning out inferior remakes of some of his best (don't see remakes of The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13).

Even HE done it himself, remaking Escape from New York as Escape from L.A.!!!!!

What next - a remake of The Thing or Big Trouble in Little China?  God, I hope not!



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Post #: 96
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 5:25:12 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
Unfortunately, i see 'The Thing remake' as just being a matter of time.   It wouldn't surprise me if someone already has their calculator out, tapping away trying to figure how much money it'd make. I just wish they'd leave it alone. But they won't. You know it's coming.

I never thought they'd touch The Fog........and my God wasn't it awful (I came out of the cinema with a face like a smacked arse - the original is a vastly overlooked classic, and i was INCENSED to say the least!).

One brief point raised earlier in the thread was about the masterful use of score in a Carpenter film. Over the recent years my visa card has taken a servere kicking getting all the cd soundtracks to all of JC's films off eBay....the Thing being my most prized addition, coming in at a whopping £89. Worth every penny though!

What's everyone's favourite score?? Halloween is probably mine.....not only is it (arguably) one of the most recognized soundtracks to any film, be it horror or not (I don't think I've ever come across so many peoples ringtones being that main theme tune!) - but even today, after TWENTY EIGHT YEARS, it STILL has the effect of raising the hairs on the back of my neck whenever I'm watching the film. Props to John for composing it himself.....just fantastic. The man's a bonefide genius in every aspect.

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Post #: 97
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 6:22:39 PM   
NadaPlissken


Posts: 1297
Joined: 4/12/2005
From: Hobb's End
quote:


Even HE done it himself, remaking Escape from New York as Escape from L.A.!!!!!


He and Russell had some motive for doing EFLA besides the cash (which, given their track record together, they certainly aren’t too bothered about making).  On the BTILC commentary, near the end, they both mention how people are slowly realising "what that [EFLA] was, and why it was slightly different, but very much the same."
They both seem bitter about how it would be impossible to make EFNY with the same budget nowadays ($7 Million abouts).  EFLA seems like a testament to that; I see it as a parody, not a sequel or remake.  For me, the whole film feels like it has a self-mocking nature, and personally I think it’s one of his most interesting films.  And it had Bruce Campbell.

As for Carpenter’s hand in the production of the Fog remake, he claims he got involved due to his late partner Debra Hill.  She died during the production, and from later interviews, Carpenter just sounded like his waiting for his cheque.

They Live looks like the film of his that looks closest to a remake.  Unfortunately, I can see The Rock as Nada, and Mekhi Phifer as Frank.


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Post #: 98
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 8:20:04 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
Vampires or Ghosts of Mars arent  bad films, and certainly not  bad John Carpenter movies. They are in the similar vein (no pun intended) to the films John made in the 70's and 80's. His films havent changed.Nor has Johns directing style. Its us the audiences that have changed in the films we desire to see.


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Post #: 99
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 24/2/2006 10:18:13 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
I've always had a soft spot for the HALLOWEEN series. But truth told, it's a really weird, erratic, and mostly unrelated series of films, kept chugging along only because of the relentness of Moustapha Akkad and the need to make a buck. There's so little cinematic, narrative, or tonic unity amongst any of the films, it makes the FRIDAY THE 13th series look like a model of auteurism in action.

Really, the first film was and remains a perfect stand-alone film. It's a testament to its strength that one can still watch it and block out memories of the sequels. But if there is a "series" here, for me it ends with HALLOWEEN III. Yes, that's right, I include 3. Why? Because for me, the unifying thing that gives HALLOWEEN its voice is not a guy named Michael Myers, but rather John Carpenter. HALLOWEEN II may be a cash-in job, and III might be an unrelated goof, but both sequels share much of the core creative team of Carpenter's golden era, and have that intense, grim, uber-cool Carpenter vibe that's hard to describe but easy to recognize. The Dean Cundey widescreen lensing, the Alan Howarth synth sound, the production design -- all pure Carpenter. But I still always think it's funny that a desperate pulled-out-of-the ass gimmick like "Laurie is Michael's sister!!!!" became the foundation upon which ALL the sequels were based, when it wasn't even a factor of the original.

Has everyone caught the documentary on the Halloween 25th Anniversary DVD? Absolutely fantastic stuff. Entitled "'Halloween: 25 Years Of Terror" its a documentary that chronicles the history of the 'Halloween' horror film series from its inception in 1978 through to the present day. Filmed in 2003, it revisits many filming locations and includes footage from the 'Halloween Returns To Haddonfield 25th Anniversary Convention'. Well worthy of your time.

Btw, shouldn't they have renamed this "Halloween: 25 Years of Terror" to "Halloween: 1 Year of Terror, 24 years of Unnecessary Mediocrity"...?

"And Busta Rhymes".

< Message edited by Ant_1971 -- 24/2/2006 10:20:04 PM >

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Post #: 100
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 25/2/2006 9:45:19 PM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
This hasnt been mentioned as much as i htought it would have been. But with Rio Bravobeing one of John Carpenters favourite films. I really do enjoy seeing him remake the film with is own addages.
Assault on Precinct 13, Prince of Darkness, Ghosts of Mars, and to a slightly lesser extent. The Thing
Its also worth pointing out (or rather reminding people) that almost every John Carpenter film has a cowboy theme. From the lone gunslingers Snake Plissken (Escape From LA/NY), Desolation Williams(Ghosts of Mars) Jack Crow(played by James Woods in Vampires),Nada(played by Roddy Piper in They Live) right through to the twangy style music that John so often places in his films. Hes a modern day cowboy film makers with no sign of tumbleweeds or hooped dresses or even spitoons

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Post #: 101
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 25/2/2006 10:45:18 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
I do agree with you Stu. My suspicion is also that he regrets not having made the western he always wanted to. It's obvious he has great passion for the genre: He's co-scripted several western Teleplays, his gushing for the genre in just about every interview he does, the constant insertion of western themes/ cliches into his genre films and then his work on The Once Upon a Time in the West DVD.

And now he could probably never get it off the ground. Aside from the genre being pretty much dead, he's nowhere near the bankable director he was in the late 70'-early 80's. He's always going to have a steady income due to the royalties the Halloween franchise continues to pay him, so I'm sure he's not starving, but a natural director like Carpenter should be working.
 I think Carpenter was one of the first (if not the first) independent writer/producer/director whose movie broke box-office records the theaters, and in 1978, dollars taken too. And I think it's because of this reason (along with him being talented) that he will always be able to get a film made. Ghosts of Mars had a pretty high budget of $28 million... while Escape from LA had, five years earlier, a $50 million dollar budget.

Both films did terrible at the box office.

I trust Carpenter as a director, but I think the choices in scripts is what is making these last few films so not on par with his earlier work. I think the same thing can be said about Schwarzenegger... I'm just making a comparison here between the two, because their choices of scripts (End of Days and The 6th Day for Arnold) were not good choices.

His films until Memoirs have all been relatively low budget, and though they never made as much money as Halloween, they all were successful in their own rights. Till this day the films do well in rentals and sales, so they continue to make money.

I thought 1995 was a great year, because Carpenter filmed both Village of the Damned and In the Mouth of Madness at the same time... crazy guy. I enjoyed both of them.

It's funny, but his films haven't made money since, yet every since Halloween addition to the franchise (for which he gets a cheque) makes money. It's almost a universal constant that when directors put their names above the title in a possessive manner (ie. John Carpenter's Vampires... Wes Craven's New Nightmare is an exception to this rule, though I wouldn't argue the contention that we've seen the best from Craven we ever will.. another thread), that the film will suck and the directors' career is over. Really, did John Carpenter's name on the Ghosts of Mars poster really draw that many more people into the theatre? No, and reason for that is that John hasn't been able to use his name as currency for a long, long time.

He had a good run though. As many have pointed out, he's made some bonafide masterpieces: Assault, Halloween, Escape from N.Y, The Thing.. as well as several respectable genre efforts. And even many of his failures are at least entertaining, intriguing or provocative: Prince of Darkness, They Live, Big Trouble.

I don't think he has had any passion for any of the projects he's done in the past 15 years. In the Mouth of Madness is probably the only halfway decent film he's done in that period, but the lustre on that one wore off after the second viewing. It's sad, because Carpenter is so enormously talented, and helped kick start the 80's horror boom that so many other directors benefitted from. I'd hate to entertain the notion that he's dried up and has nothing left

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Post #: 102
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 12:07:07 PM   
23niner


Posts: 6
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Marske-by-the-Sea
My top 3 are:
1. The Fog
2. Escape from New York
3. The Thing

I also liked Halloween. I bought The Fog special edition DVD recently which I would recommend. It includes a documentary made around the time of the movie and one made very recently - makes for a very interesting contrast. The synth music is extremely powerful in a lot of Carpenter movies.

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Post #: 103
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 1:32:06 PM   
Sleepy


Posts: 589
Joined: 30/9/2005
There's not many films I watch that have me shouting at the screen 'Shoot the dog, shoot the fucking dog!' I remember sitting down as teenager and watching the film with my dad and just being scared and horrified in equal measure by The Thing - so thank you Mr. Carpenter for the nightmares.

* Minor Spoiler

One question I do have is, everyone remembers the classic line "You gotta be fuck'n kidding me" but wasn't the guy that said it also one of the infected? I haven't listened to the commentary track on The Thing, but does Carpenter address this at all?

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Post #: 104
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 4:43:55 PM   
homerbert

 

Posts: 54
Joined: 27/10/2005
Other poeple have siad that people on't want B-Movies. I think a quick glance at any cinema listing wil prove that wrong. Carpenter's problem is tha people want slick movies. With the exception of the Thing, all his good movies look cheap and rough. In my eyes, this isn't a criticism. Part of the charm of Big Trouble, They Live, or Prince of Darkness is the pulpy, cheap and fun feel.

If you look at any of the recent 70's remakes (Texas Chainsaw, Dawn of the Dead and Carpaenter's own Assault on Precinct 13) they all did several things. They removed the minimalism, added tighter plotting, had large orchestral scores and looked slick and modern. Even though Assault and (particularly) Dawn worked, they had to dramatically change the tone and style of the movies to do so.

I think Carpenter's time is wasted trying to make relatively big budget films. He would be better off with a few digital cameras, a small budget, and a clever one line premise. Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later used this and was, to my mind, heavily Carpenter influenced. It felt like the film was heavily influenced by Carpenter's style, with the dark pessimism mixed with bleak humour ("the end is extremely fuckign nigh" could have been in one of his 80's films)

The relative failure of Land of the Dead is not going to help Carpenter. It was a hokey, fun little film that felt like Carpenter could have made it in his Big Trouble/Prince of Dakness era and it failed to do half as well asit's slicker rivals.

An interesting question is whether he has a non genre movie in him. I believe he could do a very strong thriller or drama. Even somehting straddling between Carpenter weirdness and mainstream thriller, like Phonebooth would suit him well.

It's weird how many great films he's turned out from bona fide classics (the Thing, Halloween, Escape from New York) to incredibly enjoyable pulp (Thye Live, Prince of Darkness, Esape From LA, They Live, Assault on Precinct 13, Dark Star) and he still is only revered in the nerd community.
Eoin

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Post #: 105
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 4:50:42 PM   
homerbert

 

Posts: 54
Joined: 27/10/2005
It's been a while, but isn't it Macready who says "You've got to be fucking kinng me"?

Eoin


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Post #: 106
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 5:58:24 PM   
NadaPlissken


Posts: 1297
Joined: 4/12/2005
From: Hobb's End
Spoiler for The Thing.

Palmer (David Clennon) says the infamous line.  Yes, he does turn out to be infected.

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Post #: 107
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 6:31:40 PM   
Shadowman


Posts: 39
Joined: 12/11/2005
From: Unknown
He does a huge range of films. You have to like one of them at least.

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Post #: 108
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 8:09:20 PM   
Three Seashells

 

Posts: 1
Joined: 26/2/2006
From: Sheffield
Carpenter is like Dennis Waterman in Little Britain:
"...write the theme tune, sing the theme tune..."

He always creates a memorably brooding score for his pictures. Usually minimalistic and synth based but always hummable.

It's like Goblin as done by Phillip Glass. Fantastic stuff.


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Post #: 109
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 9:47:22 PM   
Ratt1138

 

Posts: 3
Joined: 18/2/2006
I had no idea carpenter directed In the mouth of madness! I watched it years ago on TV when my fascination with movies was just beginning! I had forgotten all about it until I check out Carpenters list of movies just 10 minutes ago. And you don't get it on DVD!! uk or usa! does anyone know if or when this great film will grace DVD?

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Post #: 110
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 26/2/2006 10:43:30 PM   
Ant_1971


Posts: 105
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: England
You can get it off eBay Ratt....got mine from there

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Post #: 111
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 27/2/2006 10:27:25 AM   
Neth


Posts: 4750
Joined: 3/10/2005
In my eyes, Carpenter's one of the best directors of the last quarter of the 20th century. He's the only director, alongside Spielberg and Scorsese, with a large body of work that I find consistently fantastic - with the occassional mis-step of Escape From LA (which is still kind of enjoyable), Memoirs Of An Invisible Man (which I seemed to enjoy less after reading William Goldman's Which Lie Did I Tell?) and Vampire$ (which I just found to be too misogynistic and unpleasantly-natured). The Thing, Precinct 13, Halloween and Escape From New York can all rightly be hailed as classics, but even his more over-looked films are great (and rightly getting acknowledgment in this thread).

Christine - One of the first 18-rated movies I ever saw, and it stopped me getting in a car for a week afterwards.

Big Trouble In Little China - It's fucking nuts. It's absolutely one of the barmiest movies ever commited to celluloid. And because Carpenter and Russell both know this, it works perfectly. For about three years in the late eighties, I would constantly check out the local cinema foyer for a sequel poster. For shame, it never appeared.

Prince Of Darkness  - Again, I saw this pretty young and it terrified me. There's something deeply sinister and unnerving about this film, and the ending still makes me shiver to this day.

In The Mouth Of Madness - The first Carpenter movie I ever saw at the cinema. In retrospect, some of the rubbery effects are a bit lame, but it's still a deeply unsettling movie with some nice side-swipes at the horror novel genre. The final scene (SPOILER, folks) where Sam Neill is sitting in the cinema watching John Carpenter's own adaptation of the movie's book is so whacked out it's insane.

Ghosts Of Mars - It gets a lot of flack, and it is pretty stupid, but there are still some genuine Carpenter flourishes throughout the film. It edges close to the paranoia stirred up in The Thing, and again it features that kind of "oh fuck, it's the apocalypse" ending that Carpenter does so well.

They Live - Possibly one of the best fist-fights ever filmed, between Roddy Piper and Keith David. The fact that it was only meant to last for around twenty seconds, and that the duo actually continued to slug it out for real for a further five minutes, makes it even better.


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Post #: 112
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 27/2/2006 11:33:26 AM   
Companero


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

ORIGINAL: Silent Bob

What does everyone think about the ambiguous ending, who is the Thing?



Funny you should mention that, Silent Bob. The Thing marks the first part of Carpenter's apocalypse trilogy (it was followed by Prince of Darkness and concluded with In The Mouth Of Madness.

SPOILER:  I wouldn't say that the ending were ambiguous and the same can be said of the other films mentioned above. In all three cases, the destruction of the human race is assured.


< Message edited by Companero -- 27/2/2006 3:35:52 PM >

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Post #: 113
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 27/2/2006 12:15:18 PM   
jolly_ramon


Posts: 31
Joined: 30/9/2005
Carpenter seems to tread a fine line between Genius and Trash, with no in-between.

It's too bad that for nearly 20 years now, (since Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, They Live) fun , inventivennes and originality have been severely lacking.

Vampires, Escape from L.A and Ghosts of Mars were missing some vital ingredient, and so remained just another substandard action/horror.  

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Post #: 114
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 27/2/2006 4:15:17 PM   
Silent Bob


Posts: 116
Joined: 30/9/2005
I've just checked Bravo's TV schedules and the Carpenter episode of Masters of Horror - 'Cigarette Burns' is on this coming Friday.

I've heard this is possibly the best of the series, could it be a return to form for JC?

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Post #: 115
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 27/2/2006 6:24:41 PM   
NadaPlissken


Posts: 1297
Joined: 4/12/2005
From: Hobb's End
Cig Burns is very much a return to "commercial" form, very similar in vein to In The Mouth of Madness.

Also, I just discovered Empire gave In The Mouth of Madness TWO stars.  Way to destroy your credibilty Empire!  Why did I register here?  I might not buy your wretched magazine anymore.


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Post #: 116
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 27/2/2006 10:56:39 PM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24508
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: No Direction Home
Watched The Thing last night for the first time, and it was really really enjoyable. will search out more Carpenter films in the near future

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Post #: 117
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 28/2/2006 10:05:41 AM   
stuartbannerman


Posts: 1088
Joined: 30/9/2005
Rhubarb. Glad you enjoyed The Thing. I recommend Halloween, Escape From New York, In The Mouth Of Madness, Big Trouble In Little China  for starters....

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Post #: 118
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 28/2/2006 9:21:18 PM   
Gazz


Posts: 873
Joined: 30/9/2005
The Thing was the first and most terrifying horror film I saw. Back then I was four years old and I still remember the look on Palmers face as he uttered that infamous line "You've got to be fucking kidding me". Though I also remember the look on Norris' face as it scurried away on six newly formed legs. This was John Carpenter at his very best. Sixteen years on and The Thing is still able to give me the same chills, shudders and jumps without falter.

Rob Bottin locked himself in the studio for little over a year in order to create the special effects and during the final stages of production, was diagnosed with extreme exhaustion. The result is that the film hasn't aged a singular year. We live in a time when directors have it much easier thanks to the aid of CGI, though back in 1982 Rob Bottin, John Carpenter and a little of Stan Winston carved their names into film history by creating the impossible through practical effects. This is film dedication at it's peak.

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Post #: 119
RE: JOHN CARPENTER - 28/2/2006 9:24:44 PM   
Gazz


Posts: 873
Joined: 30/9/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: Silent Bob

What does everyone think about the ambiguous ending, who is the Thing?


I once asked Kurt Russel this (through Empire Magazines Public Access section) and though he didn't answer directly he did say that he believed MacReady was not The Thing as he didn't care whether he lived or died by the end of the ordeal, which isn't how The Thing works. It strives to survive. Did you know Kurt Russel wrote that ending a night before shooting.

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Post #: 120
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