CARPENTER, John
(1948-)
   US film-maker. At USC Film School JC collaborated with writer-actor-director Dan O'Bannon on DARK STAR (1974), a student effort expanded successfully into a feature that attracted attention for its ABSURDIST humour and classical suspense, following the adventures of a spaceship crewed by near-insane astronauts and dangerously unstable sentient bombs. That calling card enabled JC to make Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), a very accomplished "urban Western", and to sell his (eventually rewritten) script for The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978); this in turn won him an assignment to write and direct Halloween (1978), an enormously influential "stalk and slash" movie. JC is usually classed as a HORROR director, his supernatural work including The Fog (1980), Christine (1983) from Stephen KING's novel, and Big Trouble in Little China (1986), but - perhaps influenced by Nigel KNEALE, who wrote HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH for JC - he often mixes elaborate sf concepts with GOTHIC horror.JC's sf films as a director include: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981), a cynical futuristic adventure; The THING (1982), a remake of the 1951 Howard Hawks production that returns to John W. CAMPBELL's paranoid original story for its creature-clogged theme; STARMAN (1984), a mellow and impersonal mix of The Sugarland Express (1973) with The MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976), Jeff Bridges starring as a benign ALIEN visitor; PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1978), a horror movie cross-breeding quantum physics and demonology, whose credits acknowledge Kneale; THEY LIVE (1989), a witty and socially conscious pastiche of 1950s alien-invader motifs; and MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN (1992), from the 1987 novel by H.F. SAINT, a bland comedy thriller in the mould of Starman, distinguished by state-of-the-art INVISIBILITY effects. Since then JC has directed the first two parts of a three-part tv horror anthology miniseries, Body Bags (1993). In 1994 a new JC film,In the Mouth of Madness, was premiered at a film festival; this horror film somewhat in the manner of H.P. LOVECRAFT is due for general release in 1995. He is credited with contributions to The PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT (1984) and Black Moon Rising (1986), both based on scripts he wrote in the 1970s. A composer, JC has worked on the scores for most of his films, some of them rather good.
   KN
   Further reading: Order in the Universe: The Films of John Carpenter (1990) by Robert C. Cumbow.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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