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Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Sean Axmaker
October 22, 2013 11:54 AM
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Why John Carpenter Is the Most Underrated Filmmaker Of Our Time


Also new on Blu-ray in 2013: "Christine" (Twilight Time), which is unfortunately sold out (the company's contracts limit them to a run of 3000), and his H.P. Lovecraft lovefest "In the Mouth of Madness" (Warner), both in bare-bones editions, and an upcoming special edition of the made-for-cable anthology "Body Bags" (Shout Factory).

Carpenter on Blu-ray in 2013:

"Assault on Precinct 13" (Shout Factory)

"Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition" (Anchor Bay)

"The Fog" (Shout Factory)

"Christine" (Twilight Time)

"Prince of Darkness: Collector's Edition" (Shout Factory)

"Body Bags" (Shout Factory)

"In the Mouth of Madness" (Warner)


"Escape From L.A."

"The Ward"

Amazon Prime

"Escape From New York"

"In the Mouth of Madness"


"Assault on Precinct 13"

"The Fog"

"The Thing"


"Big Trouble in Little China"

"Prince of Darkness"

"They Live"

"Village of the Damned"

"Escape From L.A."

"Ghosts of Mars"


  • Brian W. Fairbanks | October 26, 2013 2:03 PMReply

    What I want to know is why has he only made one feature in the past decade?

  • Matt | October 24, 2013 8:44 AMReply

    How does one write an article about John Carpenter and not mention "The Thing"? Easily one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

  • Dean Treadway | October 23, 2013 5:50 PMReply

    He's great, for sure...but he hasn't really been working at the top of his game since THEY LIVE, and that was two decades ago. The article doesn't go very far in trying to convince us. And it displays a certain lack of knowledge of world cinema, or we'd be including in the discussion Mike Leigh, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, or about 30 other filmmakers who don't have huge cults swirling around them.

  • Gavin | October 23, 2013 5:23 PMReply

    I read that Carpenter was offered directing duties on Zombieland (2007). The Zombieland we got was pretty damn great, but I would have loved if Carpenter directed it, I think it would have been even better. You can see why in Big Trouble in Little China.

  • Gavin | October 23, 2013 5:21 PMReply

    Halloween is easily the great horror film of all time. The Thing is up there too. Fog is criminally underrated.

  • Colton | October 23, 2013 5:07 PMReply

    Maybe in the sense that he's not dead, I guess.

  • Colton | October 23, 2013 5:07 PMReply

    I love Carpenter, but I don't think he's of our time. He hasn't made a popular film since 1996...

  • Tom | October 23, 2013 11:34 AMReply

    Almost every movie of his upon release was derided by critics and most of the films failed at the Box Office.
    Halloween and The Thing were crucified.

  • Davide | October 23, 2013 10:39 AMReply

    I like Carpenter, but how exactly is he an underrated filmmaker?

  • John | October 23, 2013 10:02 AMReply

    I ve shown HALLOWEEN to a bunch of young students a few months ago.
    They were mesmerized by it,the object,the music.enjoyed it 10 times more than an actual film.

    They ended saying "amazing,but it's so cliché,so much classic effects and scenes;like seen and reseen in any horror /slasher movie'.

    They don't realize ALL the movies they've seen last 35 years where INSPIRED by HALLOWEEN.

  • Steven Millan | October 23, 2013 5:42 AMReply

    ...those two MASTERS OF HORROR episodes(it should have read)

  • Steven Millan | October 23, 2013 5:40 AMReply

    John Carpenter is an underrated filmmaker ?!?! (Rolls Eyes) John Carpenter is actually one of the most widely acclaimed modern filmmakers ever that's been behind classics such as THE THING,THEY LIVE,THE FOG,and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK(and--yeah--HALLOWEEN),for just because he hasn't been productively active in the last 12 years(with only GHOSTS OF MARS,THE WARD,and those two MASTERS OF HORROR being his only film projects throughout that time period) doesn't make him underrated at all.

  • Ekkard Baeuerle | October 23, 2013 1:44 AMReply

    John Carpenter is one of the rare directors with a very personal style: An american style that seems to be honored more cheerfully overseas than by his own countrymen. He is a master of suspence and horror in its classic essential meaning... Carpenter is the founding father of popular slasher movies (Halloween) and maybe even gore movies (The Thing). He has always had a fascination with the western genre. You still can find this obsession in almost every one of his works. To me Carpenter is and always will be an american icon. Best wishes from Germany!
    War Movies:

  • John | October 22, 2013 9:16 PMReply

    You forgot "Dark Star" - his student film. A very funny film that was way ahead of its time.

  • parsyeb | October 22, 2013 9:02 PMReply

    Give me a break. Carpenter hasn't made a vital film since Madness (which was over twenty years ago). His best thing since then was a 50 minute tv episode for Showtime.

    Set him against Abel Ferrara, who started making films around the same time. Abel gets better with every film and doesn't get half of them distributed. That sounds more like underrated to me.

  • Rogério Barbosa | October 22, 2013 5:36 PMReply

    John Carpenter was, is and always will be my favorite movie director. I absolutely love movies sind childhood and Carpenter was always special. I love other movies and other directors, but, like so many sports, Carpenter is my team of heart. Who else could create such an amazing film like Escape From New York ? - My Carpenter favorite.
    Many say that if he had more money to make his movies, he would be better than he is.
    He hadn´t and he´s the best, or for some, among the best. I guess that says everything

  • Wayward Visions | October 22, 2013 4:35 PMReply

    I'm so glad that Carpenter is finally getting the critical reevaluation he deserves. HALLOWEEN is clearly a classic, but THE FOG doesn't get the credit it deserves as an upending of American ghost stories, while THE THING and THEY LIVE are awesome science fiction, and PRINCE OF DARKNESS and IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS are under-appreciated horror gems.

    The only thing I would add is the political component to Carpenter's work, because his films almost all contain some level of ideology behind what they're doing. THE FOG is partially awesome because it pulls back the curtain on the notion of American exceptionalism, positing that you can never be truly great if you're founded on lies until there's a form of reparation or restitution; and THEY LIVE is excellent in the way it argues that all advertising and entertainment are forms of coercion, even reflecting the film's gaze back on its own audience in the way Carpenter has characters address others as audience surrogates.

  • Sean Axmaker | October 22, 2013 2:50 PMReply

    I would have loved to have gotten into "They Live" (which Shout Factory released in a terrific special edition last year) and "In the Mouth of Madness" (pretty bare-bones Blu-ray from Warner with week), but just didn't have the space. Along with "Prince of Darkness," they offer a most ingenious portrait of a nightmare reality hidden by myths and stories.

  • David Wilke | October 22, 2013 2:18 PMReply

    John Carpenter always has been and always will be my favorite director. Halloween is the first movie I remember seeing. I own his entire catalogue and consider his only weak movie to be Memoirs of an Invisible Man. Thank You John Carpenter for every scene you have ever given us and hope to see many more.

  • A.J. MacReady | October 22, 2013 5:39 PM

    Everything this good gentleman said = truth. (not a huge fan of Village either but there's more good stuff in that than any "failure" I can think of)

  • Visitor Q | October 22, 2013 1:34 PMReply

    Duddi is right, all of those are incredible movies. THE THING and HALLOWEEN put in him the list of great directors. Throw in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and THEY LIVE for some extra fun.

    His two episodes from MASTERS OF HORROR are incredible as well, especially CIGARETTE BURNS, which might be the best episode of the short series.

  • DUDDI | October 22, 2013 1:01 PMReply

    You should, Chad !!! The man has brought us some of the finest movies of 80's... He has resurrected thriller-genre with Assault on Precinct 13... He has given the horror genre two great movies such as THE THING & HALLOWEEN and he has also delivered two of the best kick-ass movies like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA & ESCAPE FROM L.A.... Now what more do you want ? ;-) ( I strongly recommend IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS & STARMAN)

  • Chad | October 22, 2013 12:33 PMReply

    I'm not convinced.