John Carpenter

April 7, 2011

John Carpenter

What the heck happened to John Carpenter (from Bowling Green, KY)? He used to be great at the kinds of films he made. Well, for one thing he just stopped caring (or trying). And in my opinion never made another watchable film after he parted ways with D.P. Dean Cundey.

Dark Star – This is how you make a student film. It’s cheap but a fun sci-fi flcik with help from Dan O’Bannon (Alien).
Assault on Precinct 13 – A western in modern day (modern in ’76) Los Angeles. The parking lot where the bad guys take cover outside the police station is near my home.
Halloween – South Pasadena substitutes for Indiana. And which part of Indiana has the mountains?
The Fog – Flawed but still not bad. The opening sequence around the town is pretty good. On a side note, I worked with a girl who was one of the kids sitting around the campfire, listening to ghost stories from Professor Kingsfield.
Escape from New York – Maybe the best thing Kurt Russell ever did (that’s not a dig, he’s been great other times). Useless trivia: The crazy, big haired Romero is the same guy who shot the girl from Witch Mountain in Assault On Precinct 13, and gave Albert Brooks a quote in Broadcast News.
The Thing – Great and unappreciated at its time. E.T. ruined dark and depressing sci fi for everyone that year (just ask Blade Runner). Dean Cundey‘s cinematography still holds up, unlike Daviau‘s work on E.T. which seems dated (and was Oscar nominated). And how the fuck does Quest For Fire beat Rob Bottin for best makeup? Ron Perlman is his own makeup.
Starman – Carpenter going outside his element for the first time, and doing a pretty good job. It’s hard to say Jeff Bridges was robbed come Oscar time, since F. Murray Abraham handed in the best performance he’s ever (or will ever) given. I fear the inevitable remake with Shia the Beef and Ellen Page (where she weeps over the You Tube video of them performing the Thriller dance).
Big Trouble in Little China – John’s last hurrah. There was studio interference and Carpenter vowed to never work for one again. Last pairing with Dean Cundey (he went off to work with Spielberg, so Dean probably got the better end of the split (until Spielberg dumped his ass in favor of Janusz, and now Dean gets to do prestige films like Garfield)).

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