skip navigation
Overview for John Carpenter
John Carpenter

John Carpenter


TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here


TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Body Bags ... This trilogy of horror comes from the gleefully demented minds of horror masters... more info $20.95was $29.98 Buy Now

The Fog ... A Northern California fishing town, built 100 years ago over an old leper... more info $23.57was $29.98 Buy Now

The House on... Kelly McGillis (Witness) and Jeff Daniels (Arachnophobia) spark a fiery... more info $16.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Something Wild... A straitlaced businessman meets a quirky, free-spirited woman at a downtown New... more info $22.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Border... A phantom raider and his thugs create havoc at Spade Cooley's dude ranch. more info $5.95was $6.98 Buy Now

Starman ... Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen. An alien assumes the human form of an Earth woman's... more info $14.95was $19.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Died:
Born: January 16, 1948 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Carthage, New York, USA Profession: Music ...


"Carpenter best sums up the influence of his fannish preoccupations, in a letter he wrote to the fanzine PHOTON shortly after the release of "Dark Star": 'My young life was filled with the pulp and pablum of "Not of This Earth", "It Conquered the World" and "Enemy From Space". I was only eight years old when I saw "Forbidden Planet", but I still haven't gotten over it. The young eyes that watched the invisible id creature make its huge footprints in the sand of Altair IV and finally saw the thing fully illuminated in the glowing laser beams would never be the same.'"--From "Roots of Imagination" by Frederick S. Clarke, CINEFANTASTIQUE, Volume 10, Number 1.

From "Carpenter: Riding High on Horror" by Jordan R Fox, CINEFANTASTIQUE, Volume 10, Number 1:

[Fox:] What's your view on the resurgence of the horror film in recent years?

[Carpenter:]I don't think it's just the horror film. We're going back to escapist entertainment; the "B" film is coming back. By "B" I don't mean less expensive, good, or important, but a film whose primary purpose is to entertain. There was a great deal of pretension in film during the '60s and '70s: filmmaking is ART. The idea was that you were delivering a message of great importance. This goes back to Antonioni and Fellini, the influence of the European film. Now we're going back to the American cinema, filmmakers like Howard Hawks, Hitchcock and John Ford--entertainment movie-makers. I'm happy, because this is the best kind of film there is.

His [Carpenter's] early work was a fond and felicitous tribute to the aura of RKO in the forties: very low-budget pictures full of visceral excitement and rich cinematic texture that belie their cost. He adores and refers to the style of Hitchcock and the atmosphere of Hawks, and he made "Dark Star" as a rebuke to "2001" and an affirmation of the innocent wonder of "The Thing" or "Forbidden Planet". With effect, for "Dark Star" is the best space-travel film since the early fifties.--David Thomson, "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994).

From Fox, CINEFANTASTIQUE Volume 10, Number 1:

[Carpenter:] You want a philosophy? Filmmaking is not people sitting and talking. That's recording--like what we're doing here. Movies MOVE--M-O-V-E--they move. Cutting, camera movement--that's what they're about.

At the same time, technique is not an end in itself. It is the means through which you reach your audience. I don't want to make a film where the story is subordinated to technique. We're all storytellers here."

"I am a writer, and a director, and let me tell you something, a screenplay is not a movie, it's a bunch of words. The director makes the movie. All this other bullshit can just go away. I've had my screenplays directed by other people. "The Eyes of Laura Mars" was directed by Irvin Kershner and he is the author of that movie, not me. As a director, I am the author of my movies. I know that's not a popular view with the writers, but I'm sorry. If the writer thinks he's an auteur, then let him thread up his screenplay in a projector and we'll take a look at it."--John Carpenter interviewed in "Fires... Floods... Riots... Earthquakes... John Carpenter!: Hollywood's Prince of Darkness Destroys L.A." by Ted Elrick, DGA MAGAZINE, July-August 1996 (Vol. 21, No. 3).

From Fox, CINEFANTASTIQUE, Volume 10, Number 1:

[Fox:] That brings up the question of the 'director's hand.' A good example would be Brian De Palma and "The Fury", where you have some very fancy shots that show off his camera virtuosity.

[Carpenter:]It's called masturbation. Now, to be fair, I must admit that I have been masturbatory in my work also, but I do try not to be too self-conscious. A director get's a few tricks under his belt and says 'Hey, watch this! See what I can do!' But it's hollow isn't it? There's no substance underneath. Take a film like "Vertigo". The underlying emotions are so strong, the technique just amplifies them (without calling attention to itself)."

"If I had three wishes, one of them would be 'Send me back to the 40s and the studio system and let me direct movies.' Because I would have been happiest there. I feel I am a little bit out of time. I have much more of a kinship for older-style films, and very few films that are made now interest me at all. I get up and walk out on them."--Carpenter quoted in "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" by David Thomson.

From Army Archerd's column, "Just for Variety" in DAILY VARIETY, October 9, 1995:

". . .Sandy and John Carpenter's home in the Point Reyes National Forest area was one of 40 destroyed by the forest fire last week. John bought the house when he was making "The Fog". It was their 'retreat from the world', also the site of his "Village of the Damned". 'It's the last anyone will see of that forest with its 200-foot-tall trees', Sandy said. The house was in ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST. They are more saddened about the loss of the forest and its animals than their house."

"In . . . "They Live", aliens have settled on Earth, offering material success to a chosen few while the rest of the population becomes poor and homeless. In one of the most chilling moments of the film, the hero stumbles upon some special sunglasses which, when worn, reveal subliminal messages hidden in billboards and magazines. Everywhere there are messages ordering the subconscious to 'Consume' and 'Marry and Reproduce.' Dollar bills reveal the message, 'This is your God.' The sunglasses also reveal the aliens' true identity.

As he rides across the Paramount lot in a studio golf cart on his way to a photo shoot, Carpenter, wearing sunglasses given to him from a French fan which have the "They Live" logo on the frames, suddenly spots a fellow in jeans and work shirt. After a beat Carpenter says, "He's human." As his golf cart turns a corner, he spots another fellow, this time wearing a suit and tie. 'I'm not sure about him,' he says.--From Elrick, DGA MAGAZINE, July-August 1996.

Carpenter should not be confused with the stage actor of the same name who has also appeared in films including "Network" and "Tootsie"

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute