Since we’re all slowly and inexorably heading into the last day of the month of October, I’ve gotten to thinking about the perfect film to watch on Halloween. The sort of film where, to properly experience it, you have to turn off all the lights in your living room and surround yourself with friends or family, put a huge bowl of freshly made popcorn on the table to get that smell of hot butter in the air, and then cower together to scream and laugh while lit only by the glow of the television. We’ve all done it at least once, and it’s always fun, but it can be unforgettable if you pick just the exact right thing to watch.
This, in turn, got me to thinking about John Carpenter. Because, as you all remember, he just happened to make a little obscure flick called “Halloween”. Which, coincidentally, is why my own personal recommendation for the perfect film to watch on Halloween is “The Fog.”
It’s a pretty interesting time to be a Stephen King fan, as 2017’s seen the emergence of King in almost all media. His works “It” and “The Dark Tower” are being adapted in to highly anticipated feature films, “The Mist” has been turned in to a series for better or for worse, and Scream Factory are re-releasing “Misery” on blu-ray later in the year for fanatics. With “The Dark Tower” coming to theaters very soon, I thought I’d ring in the occasion by highlighting five stellar Stephen King movies, and five you’re much better off avoiding.
What are some King adapted movies you think are worth watching, and what are some you think should be avoided? Let me know in the comments!
Back in 1982, American audiences were enamored with the extraterrestrial. We were in a time where the prospect of aliens was cuddly and friendly, and we were capable of exploring vast new worlds. What with “ET” and “Close Encounters” and “Star Wars,” who didn’t want to visit new worlds? Then John Carpenter came along in 1982 with his version of “Who Goes There?” a short story about an amorphous alien entity that could consume human bodies, and America wasn’t too kind to it. John Carpenter’s masterpiece is notorious for not being welcomed by critics or the box office during its release date, but thankfully years later, horror fans and movie buffs alike have embraced “The Thing” for the sheer pitch perfect masterpiece it is. John Carpenter doesn’t provide us with a more positive outlook of an alien visitor as he did with “Starman.”
With “Escape from New York,” director John Carpenter once again evokes the western by delivering his own trademark twist of the sub-genre. Through his film he offers up a classic tale of a hero in the badlands while also introducing us to one of the most colorful figures in the Carpenter gallery: Snake Plissken. Plissken is a role only Kurt Russsell could have played, a brooding and rebellious anti hero who is also very cunning and of few words.
Almost forty years later, director John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13” is still an excellent and mean contemporary western that never lets up on its audience. Director Carpenter has a knack for lensing the world to look like an alien habitat filled with despair and evil, and “Assault” is no exception. What begins as moving day for a local precinct descends in to violence, chaos, and murder with an enemy that will stop at nothing to quench its thirst for vengeance.
What began as a concept for an anthology series was formed to become a pretty solid anthology horror film that has the advantage of director John Carpenter under its wing. Surely, it’s not the best anthology movie ever made. It’s not even in the top ten anthology horror movies ever made, but it promises a decent horror trip with three stories varying in quality and often jarring changes in tone. Director John Carpenter comes out of his shell as a decrepit and demented coroner who brings us in to his morgue to gander at the bodies in his care. Every corpse has a story to tell, and he brings us the tale of three unfortunate souls.
Compared to other John Carpenter films, “Halloween” demonstrates an amazing amount of restraint for the director. Which is not to say the chaotic elements of “The Thing” and “Assault on Precinct 13” aren’t amazing, but Carpenter displays a surprising competence for pulling back as he does with unleashing hell on a slew of characters. Like many of Carpenter’s films, “Halloween” is also relegated to a limited setting, where the slasher tropes for hundreds of other slasher films would be built. There’s a small town, a curse, a crime that resonates within the community, and a virginal final girl who would stand off against the monster.
John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness,” the second leg in the “Apocalypse Trilogy” is a horrifying film about the apocalypse and one of the many Carpenter films where good fights evil and evil wins. Again. And again. It’s interesting that “Prince of Darkness” is almost a precursor to the found footage film boom of the mid aughts, as director John Carpenter stages a series of dream sequences void of cinematic flare. Through fuzzy hand held cameras, he manages to stage numerous horrific dream sequences signaling the coming of the anti-god, and the anti-Christ, all the while using it as a means of expressing how imminent the apocalypse is. The thirty second dream sequences are much more horrifying than most found footage films I’ve ever seen.