The John Carpenter Movie List

by ryankl

You might not think he’s a master but he is. The man has done more than you can imagine and now we’re all going to pay him some respect. This list goes out to Fangoria, without whom I would not have known nearly enough.

1. The Thing

2. Escape From New York

3. Halloween

4. They Live

5. Big Trouble In Little China

6. Christine

7. In The Mouth Of Madness

8. Dark Star

9. Body Bags’

10. Starman

11. Assault On Precinct 13

12. The Fog

13. Elvis

14. Escape From L.A.

15. Village Of The Damned

16. Someone’s Watching Me

17. Prince Of Darkness

18. Vampires

19. Memoir Of An Invisible Man

20. The Ward

21. Ghosts of Mars


You know what’s awesome? I haven’t actually seen The Ward but I put it in the list because I have seen Ghosts of Mars and it only stands to logical reason that The Ward is better than that steaming, fly-swarmed pile.

The Thing is both the technical best and my favourite. It’s pretty much perfection.

Why is Escape From L.A. with the letters for the location? It wasn’t Escape From N.Y.

I’d Say Carpenter has five absolute classic movies, if not actually perfect ones.

Well, maybe four; I just love They Live so much. It’s the one movie I want to remake because it could work so well. And I’d keep Rowdy Roddy Piper on in some regard. And I’d make him fist fight, for reals, for at least 12 minutes in front of the camera.

Don’t even ask me why Body Bags is so high. Seriously.

I’m sure I remember reading somewhere that someone thought James Woods might even get an Oscar nod for his turn in Vampires. Ha. HA.

Carpenter is one of those few director’s who got his name into the title. How the hell did he manage that?

Carpenter should only be working with Kurt Russell – the stats don’t lie.

No, his Masters of Horrors episodes don’t count, they’re episodes.

But, for the record, I liked Cigarette Burns and thought Pro-Life was garbage.

Dark Star certainly has something about it, you gotta admit that.

Christine is surprisingly effective at capturing the tone of the book. People rag on it but more because it’s about a devil car. That’s not Carpenter, that was right there in the source material.

Halloween is the business. And it stands up.

In The Mouth Of Madness is so close to being great. So close, yet not.

If you don’t enjoy Big Trouble In Little China then I just don’t know what to do with you. Jack Burton is one of those icons who has become his own trope.

Snake Plissken must be in my top ten favourite movie characters. It’s like Kurt Russell playing Nick Fury, as written by Warren Ellis.

It’s interesting that the top flicks of this list are all so different, we have; sci fi/horror, action/sci fi, horror, sci fi/parody, and action/parody. That’s some wide net Carpenter is casting.

If there was a Music of John Carpenter Movies laser show I’d be there every week.

Dark Star really is incredibly inventive. Watching it always make me want to go out and shoot a flick.

Even as a teen, I was interested to see Escape From L.A. had the same script structure as Escape From New York. Seriously, watch one after the other, they follow the same structure completely but with new charcaters and action set pieces slotted in. Not that I’m complaining.

I always wonder if they’ll get back to the next Escape movie with Escape From Earth. I could be down for that, Russell going Eastwood style.

Man, if you’d told 80s Fangoria that Carpenter was eventually going to remake Village of the Damned they would have been so psyched. So sad, then, that it just wasn’t what we all wanted it to be.

For a master, Carpenter has a lot of dreck in this list. That’s such a shame.

And for those who haven’t seen it, Ghosts of Mars is really bad. Terribly bad. Possibly Bottom Five worthy bad. Yugh.

But I should end with a good note so I’ll mention those top five again. That’s an awesome top five to have and I hope Carpenter is a very rich and happy man right now.

This is my list, what’s yours?