Halloween (1978 USA)

He’s gone! The evil has gone!” Bug eyed Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasence) screams. This hilarious line stands out from such a bare bones of a screenplay. John Carpenter’s direction makes a lot out of such simple elements as: shadows, dark streets, creaking doors, that it makes even the everyday setting of a small town neighborhood claustrophobically terrifying. Of course, back when this was made there were no smart phones or CCTV to combat predatory homicidal stalkers. Although it wasn’t the first of its kind, Halloween certainly was the game-changer for almost every other slasher flick that followed this low-budget indie horror. But they only ended up imitating the formula that this sick ‘classic’ originated. [Read more…]

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Assault On Precinct 13 (1976 USA)

Labelled an “auteur” by the French and a “bum” by his compatriots, John Carpenter will never get the acclaim of a Spielberg or a Hitchcock. I’m siding with the Americans…The best thing about “Assault” is its bare-bones construction. There’s precious little backstory, no real explanation for the heinous actions of the gang members, no extraneous “character development” for the protagonists, no scenes where they talk about how they have a wife and kids at home or are retiring tomorrow, and very few cutaways from the main action once it gets going (the lone exception being a few sequences with a couple of clueless cops patrolling the neighbourhood who keep missing the siege on the supposedly abandoned precinct). [Read more…]

Christine (1983 USA)

christine 3I lost interest in John Carpenter many years ago because his films started looking and feeling like the work of someone who no longer cared. “Christine”, on the other hand, is the work of a director at his peak. It is a brilliant cinematic reduction of the King novel’s strongest elements. It is still a love story about a boy and his car, and it is still a study of teenage angst and high school cruelty, but it is also spare, stylish and uncluttered. [Read more…]

The Fog (1980 United States)

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For some reason, phones that begin ringing on their own and car alarms that go off without any reason, are still much more scary than a CGI-ghost appearing out of a wall. It is notable that this film had a low-budget which works perfectly for the dark, depressing atmosphere. The movie is quite short, and because of that, the story feels ‘incomplete.’ But this open-ending makes the whole thing more frightening. [Read more…]

Escape From New York (1981 USA)

escape_from_new_york_crimson_quill-2 In 1981 New York’s Times Square was filled with pawn shops, strip joints, peep shows, drug addicts and prostitutes. It seems worlds away from the Disney stages and suburban mall feel that has taken its place. Between 1965 and 1980, Americans watched the hearts of their largest cities degenerate into havens for the miserable, misbegotten, and mislead. [Read more…]

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