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Famous Like Me > Composer > C > John Carpenter

Profile of John Carpenter on Famous Like Me

Name: John Carpenter  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 16th January 1948
Place of Birth: Carthage, New York, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
This article is about the director. For the composer see John Alden Carpenter. For the athlete, see John Carpenter (athlete). For the game show winner, see John Carpenter (Who Wants to be a Millionaire winner).

John Carpenter

John Howard Carpenter (born January 16, 1948 in Carthage, New York) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film music composer. He is considered by many to be the greatest director of modern horror, although he has in fact made movies in a number of other genres.

His films are characterized by minimalist lighting and photography, static cameras, and distinctive synthesized scores (often self-composed). He describes himself as having been influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, and The Twilight Zone.


Although born in Carthage, New York, Carpenter was raised in Bowling Green, Kentucky, he attended Western Kentucky University (where his father was director of the music department) and later the University of Southern California, where the student film he co-wrote with John Longenecker, The Resurrection of Broncho Billy, won an Academy Award for Live Action Short Film in 1970.

His first major film in a directing role, Dark Star (1974), was a sci-fi comedy written by Dan O'Bannon (who later went on to write Alien, borrowing freely from much of Dark Star). His next film, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), a movie influenced by the films of Howard Hawks, was a very popular low-budget thriller regarded as one of the best exploitation films of the 1970s. Halloween (1978) was a smash hit on release and is considered to be the father of the slasher film genre, while the ghost story The Fog (1980) and sci-fi adventure Escape From New York (1981) quickly picked up a large cult audience as well as mainstream critical acclaim.

His next film, The Thing (1982), was unfortunately released at the same time as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and did not perform well commercially, marking the end of his purple patch at the box-office. The film was considered far too dark and the effects by Rob Bottin were considered too grotesque for a mainstream audience. However the film itself has retrospectively gained more and more critical appreciation, and is now often considered his best.

Following the box office failure of his big budget action comedy Big Trouble in Little China (1986) he struggled to get films financed. He returned to making lower budget films such as Prince of Darkness (1987), a film influenced by the BBC series Quatermass, and They Live (1988). Although some of the films from this time did pick up a cult audience, Carpenter never again realised his mass-market potential. His recent career is characterized by a number of notable misfires: Escape From L.A. (1996) and Ghosts of Mars (2001) being two such examples which were both critically mauled and failures at the box-office.

Carpenter's reputation remains strong, his earlier films are considered classics and (as they have continued to perform well on home video) several are due to be subjects of big budget remakes. Many horror/sci-fi/indie filmmakers have expressed admiration for Carpenter's work, from Robert Rodriguez to Guillermo Del Toro to Quentin Tarantino to even the critically-praised Paul Thomas Anderson of Boogie Nights and Magnolia fame.

He is currently producing the remake of his film The Fog. He also recently directed an episode for the tv-series Masters of Horror.

Apocalypse Trilogy

  • The Thing
  • Prince of Darkness
  • In the Mouth of Madness

It is considered these three films form part of an unofficial trilogy dealing with different "end of the world" scenarios. There is no connection otherwise between the films.


Some of the films that John Carpenter was attached to at one point but eventually left were Fatal Attraction, The Golden Child, No Way Out, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Deal of the Century, Armed & Dangerous, Firestarter and The Philadelphia Experiment.

Filmography as director

  • The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970)
  • Dark Star (1974)
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
  • Halloween (1978)
  • Elvis (1979, TV)
  • The Fog (1980)
  • Escape from New York (1981)
  • The Thing (1982), remake of The Thing From Another World
  • Christine (1983)
  • Starman (1984)
  • Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
  • Prince of Darkness (1987)
  • They Live (1988)
  • Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
  • In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
  • Village of the Damned (1995)
  • Escape From L.A. (1996)
  • Vampires (1998)
  • Ghosts of Mars (2001)

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article John Carpenter