John Carpenter is often referred to as the “master of the horror film.” This is a reasonable title, considering he has proved himself as a true visionary of the horror genre. John Carpenter has created some of the most intense, imaginative, influential and successful horror films in cinema history. Unfortunately his work is often misunderstood and under appreciated by audiences and film critics alike. One of my favorite horror films Halloween (1978), is also one of the most profitable independent films ever made. Halloween spawned seven sequels, which dominated the horror film industry during the late 1970s and early 1980s. John Carpenter is renowned for his mastery of the cinematographical craft, static cameras, use of steadicam, and distinctive synthesized scores (usually self-composed).
Producer Irwin Yablans, offered Carpenter a chance to direct a feature which lead to his success and widespread appreciation for slasher horror films . The project was to be a thriller based on a concept by Yablans called “The Babysitter Murders.” The struggling writer-director thought the idea might prove commercial and thus, “Halloween” came to pass, introduced Jamie Lee Curtis to the world and helped establish the new horror sub-genre. “Slasher” films were born and lead the way for many to come. Produced by co-writer Debra Hill, “Halloween” reportedly grossed over $75 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable films ever made.
1. Halloween – 1978
On Halloween night in 1963, a six-year-old Michael Myers murders his older sister by stabbing her with a kitchen knife. Fifteen years later, he escapes from a psychiatric hospital, returns home, and stalks teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends. Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis suspects Michael’s intentions, and follows him to Haddonfield to try to prevent him from killing.
2. The Thing – 1982
A parasitic extraterrestrial life-form that assimilates other organisms, imitates humans with the intention to survive and spread. The Thing infiltrates an Antarctic research station, taking the appearance of the researchers that it absorbs, and paranoia occurs within the group. The group frantically tries to isolate the thing and destroy it whilst they struggle to understand who to trust within the group of survivors.
3. Christine – 1983
She was born in Detroit… on an automobile assembly line. But she is no ordinary automobile. Deep within her chassis lives an unholy presence. She is Christine – a red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury whose unique standard equipment includes an evil, indestructible vengeance that will destroy anyone in her way. She seduces 17-year-old Arnie Cunningham, who becomes consumed with passion for her sleek, rounded, chrome-laden body. She demands his complete and unquestioned devotion and when outsiders seek to interfere, they become the victims of Christine’s horrifying wrath.
4. They Live – 1988
The film follows a nameless drifter referred to as “Nada,” who discovers the ruling class are in fact aliens managing human social affairs through the use of a signal on top of the TV broadcast, concealing their appearance and subliminal messages in mass media.
5. The Fog – 1980, (remake 2005)
It tells the story of a strange, glowing fog that sweeps in over a small coastal town in California, bringing with it the vengeful ghosts of mariners who were killed in a shipwreck there exactly 100 years earlier.