Director Profile: John Carpenter

John Carpenter
It was European audiences who first embraced John Carpenter’s films of the 70s, and pushed his filmography into the very top bracket of cult status.

Carpenter’s Point of View

Off the back of early success with short films, John Carpenter’s first feature was the ultra-low budget Dark Star (1974). It was there Carpenter first harnessed his ambitions of multitasking right across the creative processes; writing, directing and producing, as well as composing the music. His writing partner Dan O’Bannon also did the special effects and acted in the film. Prominently featuring in the ‘alien mascot’ sequence, this would later inspire O’Bannon to write the screenplay for Alien (1979).

John Carpenter then began to make a name for himself with his economical style and stretching modest studio budgets to their full potential. The massive commercial success of Halloween (1978) gave birth to the slasher genre, and Carpenter’s tense musical score became iconic. After being pressured into writing Halloween II (1981), Carpenter then distanced himself from the sequels, on record as having no desire to be making the same film over and over again.

He produced Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) which saw a stark shift in storyline, not featuring Michael Myers. Although it’s since gained a cult fanbase as a standalone film, initial audience apathy mirrored box office failure, and saw the franchise return to following Michael, but with less hands-on involvement from Carpenter.

Although his career has been riddled with box office failures, cult popularity has always followed. The brilliant-but-bleak The Thing (1982) was released in the same summer as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), with audiences clearly more drawn towards the more heartwarming tale of alien visitation.

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