Director/Writer – Halloween ♦ They Live ♦ The Fog ♦ Escape from LA ♦ Starman ♦ Christine
John Carpenter, one of the nation’s top feminists???? The guy who shaped the imagination of young male filmgoers and a generation of young film-makers of both genders with such thriller hits as ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, HALLOWEEN, STARMAN and JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES this summer will unveil with his 20th film, JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS his vision of a future dominated by powerful women. Law enforcement on Mars later in this new dark century will not be entrusted to mere men. Natasha Henstridge, Clea Duvall, Pam Grier and Joanna Cassidy are the toughest cops of the raw red planet in 2176 A.D. when an eruption of spirits from a terrifying past turn Mars into a living hell for the colonizers from Earth.
But the “master of terror,” as one critic describes him, has always interested his films with strong sexual tensions and commentary on gender relationships. Due in substantial part to the mix of terror, thrills and sensual over tones, JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES, set a box office record for the biggest Halloween weekend opening ever, and the film’s video and DVD stayed on top of the best seller charts for weeks. The film marked Carpenter’s first venture into the mythology of vampirism, a subject he has long wanted to visit. “It is,” he says, “the form in which the horror genre, in literature and in film, has most directly addressed sexuality. “Dracula is entirely about sex, and our film has a strong undertone of addiction and seduction.” The formula proved quite successful. The master filmmaker of suspense, thrills and horror was honored, once again, by the Academy of Science Fiction, receiving three Saturn Awards for JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES.
Carpenter who is celebrated as the most manly of thriller directors is regarded as a film-maker whose heroes are paradigms of ferocious masculinity. But remember that Jamie Lee Curtis was the only character strong enough, brave enough, resolute enough to tussle with the invincible death machine Michael Meyers in the director’s HALLOWEEN, a film that wrote the rules for terror movie-making in the last quarter of the recently past century into this one.
Carpenter, one of the esteemed graduates of the USC Film School who pioneered new directions for Hollywood over the past quarter century, personally helped return the horror genre to box office prominence and cutting edge artistic expression with the smash success of his HALLOWEEN.
JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS, like his first vampire thriller and his previous JOHN CARPENTER’S ESCAPE FROM L.A., (the sequel to his 1981 sci-fi adventure ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK,) continues Carpenter’s history as a triple-threat filmmaker, composing the score as well as writing the screenplay and directing. He has composed the dramatic scores for 17 of his 20 previous film productions, often performing them as well on digital instruments (17-including GHOSTS OF MARS).
Born in Carthage, New York, and raised in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Carpenter was captivated by movies, especially Westerns, as a youngster. The son of a college music professor, he attended Western Kentucky University, then enrolled in the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema.
After winning an Academy Award for his 1970 short subject, THE RESURRECTION OF BRONCO BILLY (completed while a film student at USC), Carpenter directed a series of low-budget, highly-commercial and critically-acclaimed movies, including DARK STAR, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and HALLOWEEN, which earned over $75 million worldwide on a budget of just $300,000, still the highest percentage earning per dollar spent.
Following HALLOWEEN, he established his reputation further with such genre hits as THE FOG, THEY LIVE, PRINCE OF DARKNESS and CHRISTINE. His rank as an action director on a wider scale is also evident in such productions as ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THE THING and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.
His motion picture credits also include the comedy-thriller, MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, the psychological horror film IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, the sci-fi love story, STARMAN, which earned Jeff Bridges a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, the terrifying remake of the classic 1950s horror story. For the small screen, Carpenter directed the thriller SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME, the acclaimed biographical mini-series, ELVIS and the Showtime horror trilogy JOHN CARPENTER PRESENTS BODY BAGS.
As a screenwriter, Carpenter’s first Hollywood credit was EYES OF LAURA MARS. He has also written original screenplays for HALLOWEEN II, THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT, BLACK MOON RISING, MELTDOWN and the TV western, EL DIABLO, winning a CableAce Award for Best Screenplay. He co-authored the screenplay of JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES with Dan Jakoby and Dan Mazar from the novel by John Stenkly, Vampire$.
Carpenter, ever the film student, is a scholar on the works of director Howard Hawks. He recently professored a master class on the great filmmaker at the British Film Institute and is preparing a biographical documentary film and book on him.
Carpenter is married to Sandy King who produced JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS as well as such recent films by the director as JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES (through her Storm King Productions for Largo Entertainment,) IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED.
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