American filmmaker, screenwriter, and musician. John Howard Carpenter was born January 16, 1948in Carthage, New York, He and his family relocated to Bowling Green, Kentucky during 1953? He was interested in films from an early age, particularly the westerns of Howard Hawks and John Ford, as well as 1950s low-budget horror films, such as The Thing from Another World and high budget science fiction like Forbidden Planet and began filming horror short films with 8 mm film even before starting high school. He attended Western Kentucky University, where his father chaired the music department, then transferred to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts during 1968, but quit to make his first feature film.
In a film course at USC Cinema during 1969, Carpenter wrote and directed an 8-minute short film, Captain Voyeur. The film was rediscovered in the USC archives in 2011 and proved interesting because it revealed elements that would appear in his later film, Halloween (1978). In 1970 he collaborated with producer John Longenecker as co-writer, film editor, and music composer for The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970), which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. The short film was enlarged to 35mm, sixty prints were made, and the film was released theatrically by Universal Studios for two years in the United States and Canada.
Carpenter’s first major film as director, Dark Star (1974), was a science fiction comedy that he cowrote with Dan O’Bannon (who later went on to write Alien, borrowing freely from much of Dark Star). The film reportedly cost only $60,000 and was difficult to make as both Carpenter and O’Bannon completed the film by multitasking, with Carpenter doing the musical score as well as the writing, producing, and directing, while O’Bannon acted in the film and did the special effects (which caught the attention of George Lucas who hired him to work with the special effects for the film Star Wars). Carpenter received praise for his ability to make low-budget films.
Carpenter’s next film was Assault on Precinct 13 a low-budget thriller influenced by the films of Howard Hawks, particularly Rio Bravo. As with Dark Star, Carpenter was responsible for many aspects of the film’s creation. He not only wrote, directed, and scored it, but also edited the film using the pseudonym “John T. Chance” (the name of John Wayne’s character in Rio Bravo). Carpenter has said that he considers Assault on Precinct 13 to have been his first real film because it was the first film that he filmed on a schedule The film was the first time Carpenter worked with Debra Hill, who played prominently in the making of some of Carpenter’s most important films. For this film Carpenter assembled a main cast that consisted of experienced but relatively obscure actors. The two main actors were Austin Stoker, who had appeared previously in science fiction, disaster, and blaxploitation films, and Darwin Joston, who had worked primarily for television and had once been Carpenter’s next-door neighbor.
Carpenter’s first major studio film was the 1978 Thriller Eyes of Laura Mars. This was adapted from a script titled Eyes, which he had previously written and featured Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones and was directed by Irvin Kershner, (in collaboration with David Zelag Goodman). Next Carpenter both wrote and directed the Lauren Hutton thriller Someone’s Watching Me!. This television film is the tale of a single, working woman who, soon after arriving in L.A., discovers that she is being stalked. Carpenter’s next film, Halloween (1978), was also a success and helped develop the slasher genre. Originally an idea suggested by producer Irwin Yablans (titled The Babysitter Murders), who thought of a film about babysitters being menaced by a stalker, Carpenter took the idea and another suggestion from Yablans that it occur during Halloween and developed a story The film was written by Carpenter and Debra Hill and the music was inspired by both Dario Argento’s Suspiria (which also influenced the film’s slightly surreal color scheme) and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. During 1979, John Carpenter also began the first of several collaborations with actor Kurt Russell when he directed the television film Elvis.
In 1980 Carpenter followed up the success of Halloween with The Fog, a ghostly revenge tale (co-written by Hill) inspired by horror comics such as Tales from the Crypt and The Crawling Eye, a 1958 film about monsters hiding in clouds. Carpenter immediately followed The Fog with the science-fiction adventure Escape from New York (1981). Featuring several actors that Carpenter had collaborated with (Donald Pleasence, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, and Frank Doubleday) or would collaborate with again (Kurt Russell and Harry Dean Stanton), as well as several notable actors including Lee Van Cleef and Ernest Borgnine.
Carpenter’s next film, The Thing was released in 1982. This Featured innovative special effects by Rob Bottin, special visual effects by matte artist Albert Whitlock, a score by Ennio Morricone and a cast including Kurt Russell Wilford Brimley, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Keith David, and Richard Masur. It used the same source material as the 1951 Howard Hawks film, The Thing from Another World, but was more faithful to the John W. Campbell, Jr. novella, Who Goes There?, upon which both films were based. The Thing was part of what Carpenter later called his “Apocalypse Trilogy,” a trio of films (The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and In the Mouth of Madness) with bleak endings for the film’s characters. During filming of The Thing, Universal offered him the chance to direct Firestarter, based on the novel by Stephen King. However when The Thing was a financial disappointment, Universal replaced Carpenter with Mark L. Lester.
Carpenter’s next film, Christine, was an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. The story concerns a high-school nerd named Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) who buys and restores 1958 Plymouth Fury which turns out to have supernatural powers. As Cunningham restores and rebuilds the car, he becomes unnaturally obsessed with it, with deadly consequences.
Carpenter then went on to Direct Starman, a romantic comedy similar to It Happened One Night except with a space alien. The film received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Jeff Bridges’ portrayal of Starman and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Musical Score for Jack Nitzsche. Carpenter’s next film was the 1986 big-budget action–comedy Big Trouble in Little China which sadly failed to meet expectations. In 1989 Carpenter was offered The Exorcist III and met with writer William Peter Blatty (who also authored the novel on which it was based, Legion However, the two disagreed about the film’s climax and Carpenter refused the project.
Carpenter next Directed the films Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), Village of the Damned (1995), and Escape from L.A. (1996). Carpenter also made the cult classics Body Bags, a television horror anthology film, the 1995 Lovecraftian homage “In the Mouth of Madness” with Tobe Hooper and Vampires (1998), which featured James Woods as the leader of a band of vampire hunters in league with the Catholic Church.
The actress Jamie Lee Curtis then asked Carpenter to direct Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Since she was the main actress from the original and the sequel Halloween II (1981), and wanted to reunite the cast and crew of the original film. Carpenter agreed to direct the film, but his starting fee as director was a hefty $10 million and Halloween producer Moustapha Akkad refused so Carpenter quit and Steve Miner directed Halloween H20: 20 Years Later instead. In 2001, the film Ghosts of Mars was released. During 2005 there were remakes of Assault on Precinct 13 and The Fog, the latter being produced by Carpenter himself. During 2007 Rob Zombie produced and directed Halloween, a re-imagining of Carpenter’s 1978 film that resulted in a sequel in 2009. In 2005 Carpenter directed an episode of the Masters of Horror television series entitled “Cigarette Burns”. He also contributed another episode entitled “Pro-Life”, about a young girl who is raped and impregnated by a demon and wants to have an abortion, however her efforts are halted by her religious fanatic, gun-toting father and her three brothers.
Carpenter’s next film The Ward, premiered in 2010, and Carpenter also received the Lifetime Award from the Freak Show Horror Film Festival. Carpenter is directing the film Darkchyled. In 2015, his album Lost Themes was also released and a sequel entitled Lost Themes II, was later released in 2016. A third studio album, titled Anthology: Movie Themes 1974–1998 was also released in 2017. Carpenter acted as executive producer, co-composer, and creative consultant on a new film in the Halloween film series, titled Halloween, The film acts as a direct sequel to Carpenter’s original film, ignoring the continuity of all other previous films. It is his first direct involvement with the franchise since 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
Many Filmmakers have been influenced by Carpenter including James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro, Robert Rodriguez, James Wan, Edgar Wright, Danny Boyle, Nicolas Winding Refn, Adam Wingard Neil Marshall, Michael Dougherty, Ben Wheatley, Jeff Nichols, Bong Joon-ho, James Gunn, Mike Flanagan, David Robert Mitchell, The Duffer Brothers, Jeremy Saulnier, Trey Edward Shults, Drew Goddard, David F. Sandberg, James DeMonaco, Adam Green, Ted Geoghegan, Keith Gordon, Jack Thomas Smith, and Marvin Kren. The video game Dead Space 3 is said to be influenced by Carpenter’s The Thing, The Fog, and Halloween, and Carpenter has stated that he would be enthusiastic to adapt that series into a feature film. Hans Zimmer also cited Carpenter as an influence on his compositions.