To follow the other top 10 I posted recently (The Man, The Myth, The Snake: Top 10 Kurt Russell Films), I figured I might as well continue on with the theme, and give you all my top 10 John Carpenter films, of ALL TIME! I am hoping to start posting some horror film reviews, especially on ones I find good or intriguing. Enough gibber gabber, on with the show….
Carpenter will never go down as one of the greatest directors of all time, but he will be remembered as a very influential filmmaker, mainly in classic cult films, generally in the horror and science fiction genres. I have always been a huge Carpenter fan, having grown up admiring many of his early films, and appreciating most everything he has done. I am hoping he has at least one more great film to give to us, but alas, like Argento and many others, with age, has also come mediocrity and let downs. Let’s begin….
10. They Live (1988)
By no means a “great” film, but a fun, Twilight Zone-esque showing for Carpenter. Staring Roddy Piper as a homeless man who stands up to the aliens that are trying to control the population with subliminal messages of acceptance of the status quo through the use of mass media. Another B-Movie classic from Carpenter.
Stars – Roddy Piper, Keith David, and Meg Foster
9. The Fog (1980)
Carpenter’s follow-up after 1978’s Halloween, The Fog has always held a special place in my heart since I was a kid. Once again, not a “great” film, but a moody and atmospheric piece of cinema that gives you zombie leper pirates bent on vengeance for crimes of the past! Let’s not mention the lame 2005 remake…………
Stars – Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, Janet Lee, and Hal Holbrook.
8. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Carpenter’s second major film, focuses on a police officer who defends a precinct from an onslaught of gang members. Initially not a success, the film was a hit in Europe and gained cult status shortly after in the US. Once again, no need to mention it’s 2005 remake……….
Stars – Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, and Laurie Zimmer.
7. Starman (1984)
The only Carpenter film to receive an Academy Award nomination (Jeff Bridges – Best Actor). The story is about an alien traveling to Earth in response to an invitation to do so left on the Voyager 2 space probe. At it’s core, it is a love story, and a nice little change-of-pace film for Carpenter.
Stars – Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, and Charles Martin Smith.
6. In The Mouth of Madness (1995)
Carpenter’s Lovecraft inspired horror film, the third part of his Apocalypse Trilogy (The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and ITMM), centers on a man’s investigation into the disappearance of popular horror novelist Sutter Cane.
Stars – Sam Neil, Julie Carmen, Jurgen Prochnow, and Charlton Heston.
5. Prince of Darkness (1987)
Underrated Carpenter film, that does feel a bit “unfinished”, but very creepy and atmospheric. The Second installment of his Apocalypse Trilogy, did not receive favorable reviews on release, like a lot of his films, but has since garnered cult status. Who doesn’t like a film about the ultimate evil infused with the theory of matter and anti-matter? Additionally, you get Alice Cooper!
Stars – Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Victor Wong, and Jameson Parker.
4. Halloween (1978)
The film that created a franchise along with the slasher film genre. It also starred an unknown actress at the time, Jamie Lee Curtis. It has established itself as a classic in it’s field, and remains as Carpenter’s most influential film.
Stars – Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, and P.J. Soles.
3. Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
Classic Carpenter, and once again, a critical failure on it’s initial release, but through the years, has become a cult classic. Who can’t love a good ole’ Kung Fu movie starring Kurt Russell? In my opinion, a huge influence on the Mortal Combat game series, especially Raiden! Great stuff!
Stars – Kurt Russell, Kin Cattrall, Dennis Dun, and Victor Wong.
2. Escape From New York (1981)
No doubt in mind what the top four were on this list, it was just a matter of where they ranked for my personally. Escape was one of those films that when I saw it, I feel in love with it instantly. One of Carpenter’s films that actually was received well by critics and movie-goers. Snake Plissken was a bad ass and my main man Kurt was ideal for the role and created an iconic character with his performance. There are rumors of a “remake”, which I hope are squashed, but as long as Carpenter is willing to sell off all his properties, be warned. Big Trouble is also in “remake” stage………..UGH!
Stars – Kurt Russell, Donald Pleasence, Adrienne Barbeau, Lee Van Cleef, and Ernest Borgnine.
1. The Thing (1982)
If you read my other article on Kurt Russell, then no surprise here. For me, this is as good as it gets for Carpenter. I have watched this film no telling how many times and it never gets old. A true horror classic!
Stars – Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David.
Elvis (1979) – Kurt Russell – TV
Cigarette Burns (2005) and Pro-Life (2006) episodes of Master of Horrors – TV
Halloween II (1981) – Jamie Lee Curtis
What are your guys thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with my list? I am probably done with Top 10 lists for awhile, and will probably try my hand at a Horror Column, reviewing several recent horror films. Plan on also doing reviews on two new albums coming out in the next few weeks, the new Buck Cherry and Shinedown. Believe It!