Today is John Carpenter’s birthday; he is one of the best horror directors of all time. I have decided to pick my top 10 favourite directing pieces of work. I have not seen all of his films so anything that you may consider better than any piece of work on the list will more than likely be the reason.
10. Vampires (1998)
James Woods & Daniel Baldwin take the lead roles in this vampire film. They play vengeful vampire slayers who have to face a race against time to a powerful vampire from getting his hands on a crucifix which will make him endure sunlight.
We get an all-out blood bath in opening scene which leads to the vengeance. I have never been recommended this film and I am not sure why, it fills all the essential qualities for a violent vampire film, lots of blood, gore, unstoppable villain. So check this one out if you enjoyed Near Dark.
9. Ghosts Of Mars (2001)
Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube & Jason Statham star as Martian police unit who are sent to quarantine a dangerous outbreak in a mining outpost. After they arrive they find out that the inhabitants have become possessed by the former inhabitants of the planet.
This time we get possessed self-mutilating creatures that are full of rage. It wasn’t like John was a novice in the sci-fi horror genre but this one did come off stuck in the middle of trying to be a modern horror and mixing elements of his classics. This film is better than some Mars based films but not all.
8. The Ward (2010)
Amber Heard stars in the lead role as a girl who gets sent to a mental institute. In the institute she meets other girl with other issues but soon she gets haunted by a ghost and with her new friends sets out to figure out what who and what had happened to the ghost.
This was John’s last directed film to date and he gets the new modern horror down to a tee, following the tradition of having a ghost haunting a heroine until she investigates and discovers the truth on how they became a ghost. I did like the story I found it to be a clever story with plenty of twists to keep you guessing.
7. Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)
This is John’s second feature film made for $150,000. The story revolves around an abandoning Police Precinct where the last shift for one group of Police officers turns into a nightmare as they are stalked by a mass number of street criminals.
In this film you get to see how John has an ability to create brilliant edge of your seat scenes, as well as proving you don’t need to spend big money on a film and hire big name stars like the remake of this did. This is one of four films on this list that have had a remake released.
6. Escape From LA (1996)
Kurt Russell returns as Snake and this time he has to go to the autonomous island of Los Angeles filled with the undesirables. His mission this time is to retrieve a doomsday device.
The only sequel on this list as well as being the only sequel of his career. After Escape From New York being such a hit with the fans it was good to see John himself be the guy to give one of his films a sequel.
5. The Fog (1980)
Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis & Janet Leigh star in the film about killer fog. Fair enough that doesn’t sound very interesting but when you learn that the fog is filled with ghosts and zombies from a former leper colony hell bent on revenge it becomes a very suspenseful horror.
Fresh of the back of his horror baby Halloween John picks right back up with the suspenseful scenes that will have you guessing who will be picked off next with great build and execution. Another film that got remade terribly losing the point of the original.
4. Masters Of Horror – Cigarette Burns (2006) (TV)
Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) & Udo Kier star in this Masters of Horror hour long feature. The story follows a bankrupt movie theatre owner who gets hired by an eccentric private collector to track down a cursed horror film that drives anyone who views it to become insane and violent.
This is one of the best chapters in the Master of Horror collection filled with legendary horror directors. We have some very twisted scenes proving that even with a shorter feature you can still pull of suspense as we are left with just glimpses of what is in the film and never seeing all of the details.
3. Halloween (1978)
Donald Pleasence & Jamie Lee Curtis star in what is consider one of the best horror films ever made. The story follows a psychiatrist who has to track down his patient Michael Myers who is trying to track down his sister and won’t stop killing people until he does.
This was the first chapter of the Halloween franchise that took off and even though none of the follow ups have been near this standard. This film is filled with suspense filled scares that have always had people try and copy but never reach the same levels. Another one of his films that has had a remake and at least with this remake people talk about it being a good take into the modern era of film.
2. Escape From New York (1982)
Kurt Russell stars as Snake Prissken a lone warrior who has to help the government track down the President whose plane has been shot down in maximum security prison of New York City. Snake must rescue him and collect his cargo through the land of undesirables before it is too late.
The introduction of bad ass Snake Prissken was a great idea he stands up there with some of the best bad ass heroes in screen history. Having plenty of memorable scenes with the final escape being one the most this will always be one of the best films of the genre. Rumoured to be getting remade this could become the fifth of the films on the list remade.
Kurt Russell stars in one of the most memorable films of all time. Focusing on a research team in the Antarctic who must go up against a shape shifting creature. In the middle of nowhere in the middle a storm tension rises between the team. We are left to think and guess who will be infected and will survive.
With some of the best shock scenes in film history this is actually a remake and often considered the best remake all of time. It has been remade well had a prequel explaining the opening scene. This is a must watch for all horror fans that will always be remembered. The special effects are still outstanding and haven’t dated, proving that proper special effects can still be better than CGI.
Plans to watch
- Big Trouble In Little China
- They Live
- Village Of the Damned