John Carpenter

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Re: John Carpenter

#51 Post by Maltic » Fri Jun 24, 2022 8:08 am

the title effects sequence was made using an animation cell with "The Thing" written on it placed behind a smoke filled fish tank which was then covered with a plastic garbage bag. The burning effect was created once the bag ignited.
Same in The Thing from Another World

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Re: John Carpenter

#52 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jun 25, 2022 7:14 am

Maltic wrote:
Fri Jun 24, 2022 7:57 am
B) is undoubtedly true. What's weird is, the Fangoria crowd seem to have disliked it too.

Incredibly, 1982 was also the summer of Poltergeist, TRON, Blade Runner, Rocky III, The Wrath of Khan, Friday the 13th pt III, Mad Max 2, The Secret of Nimh, Conan the Barbarian, Firefox, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Also the same year as Paul Schrader's remake of Cat People.

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Re: John Carpenter

#53 Post by The Curious Sofa » Sat Jun 25, 2022 9:15 am

I saw The Thing when it came out and will out myself as someone for whom it took me a while to come round to it. The first time I saw it, I was genuinely disappointed and I had been a huge Carpenter fan till then, watching his films as the came out from Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13 onwards (Assault on Precinct 13 only got a release in Germany after the success of Halloween)

Alien was my favourite movie at the time and The Thing struck me as a lesser version of "a bunch of people stuck in a hostile place with a homicidal alien". What I liked the least about it was its minimalist characterisation, I found the characters pretty much interchangeable. While Alien had a groundbreaking female heroine, MacReady was too much of the expected stock character for that type of thing. Kurt Russel carried over his stoic Clint Eastwood impersonation from Escape From New York and I didn't feel scared or really anything for him, while Ripley managed to keep her wits together despite being obviously terrified. Her fear translated to me. The effects of The Thing were the most ambitious use of animatronics and bladder effects, which were the big innovation in fx back then (The Howling and American Werewolf paved the way) but out in the bright lights, they looked like effects, while the covert way in which the creature Alien was shot, I was never sure what I was looking at and that played on my imagination in a way the slightly latexy effects of The Thing didn't.

Movies started to change though and by the mid/late 80s the next itineration of the concept was Predator and we got wisecracks on steroids at the centre of the film and an alien with dreadlocks. In retrospect The Thing's pared down minimalism started to look good. Characters weren't required to be relatable and human anymore, they became aspirational figures whose main function was to be cool.

Now I've watched The Thing many times and I love it for its chilly atmosphere, sense of paranoia, cinematography (Dean Cundey's best work), the brooding score and it's true and the effects have a physicality to them so much of modern CGI lacks. It's still not quite up there with Alien for me but I now also think its Carpenter's last true masterpiece.

A lot of how one feels about films has to do with discovering them as they were released or watching them many years later. Maybe I would have liked The Thing far better, had I discovered it before Alien. Having fallen in love with film in the 70s and its more naturalistic approach to characterisation, I couldn't get with the broader characterisations of 80s/90s action cinema, which many of my slightly younger friends are nostalgic about. In that regard, The Thing feels like a transitional film, not that the characters are broad but MacReady definitely is meant to be cool.

Incidentally I watched Big Trouble in Little China for the first time in its entirety a week ago and feel vindicated for having avoided it all these decades. It struck me as horribly misconceived and there was nothing I liked about it, even Carpenter's score for this was bad.

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Re: John Carpenter

#54 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Aug 28, 2022 10:21 am

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Re: John Carpenter

#55 Post by beamish14 » Sun Aug 28, 2022 12:06 pm

It’s interesting that he doesn’t have much to say about USC when he co-wrote the only student film from the school to ever win an Oscar

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Re: John Carpenter

#56 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Dec 16, 2022 3:00 am

As I make my way through Tobe Hooper's work, I inevitably came across the omnibus collab Body Bags, with the first two segments directed by Carpenter and the last by Hooper. What I was completely unprepared for is how wildly mismatched Carpenter's back-to-back shorts are. The first, "The Gas Station." is one of the worst horror shorts: boring, devoid of tension, poorly acted and directed, the kind that feels like a full feature despite being barely a sitcom length.. nothing about it is interesting or deserves a lick of attention, and it's all the worse for taking itself so seriously and tripling down on the horror components that just aren't there. But then... we have "Hair." Even before David Warner shows up to enact the sci-fi device to drive the ludicrous plot forward, we get Stacy Keach in full deadpan comedy mode, and Carpenter committing hard to this satire bordering on farce. In the opening dinner scene, Keach is obsessively preoccupied with his receding hair line to the point of having a monotonous tantrum, and gives the greatest and funniest response to the Wife Calling You a Baby gentle provocation I've ever seen. Other highlights include a hysterically dry 'melodramatic slo-mo music montage' post-barbershop exit. This film is so highly pitched into surreal territory that it mirrors its target in tone: exposing a heightened anxiety that for many men prompts a crippling crises of immature denial (I can speak to this, not that I'm unique there). The reflexive energy is as erratic, silly, and superfluous as Keach's myopic stages of a midlife crisis that resembles less of a descent into vanity than a narcissistic quality Americans all have, ready to amplify at the first sign of minor stress. Alien invasion is pretty easy when we're all so sensitive! I knew Carpenter could be funny, but not in this mode and to this octave. Fans of Lanthimos' antisocial dramedies should check this portion out

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Re: John Carpenter

#57 Post by colinr0380 » Sun May 19, 2024 7:25 am

Watching Starman again for the first time in years, I came away equal parts amused and impressed. I also love that the quick growing transformation sequence from baby to grown man in the opening of the film is a great take on the American Werewolf In London transformation scene!

This can kind of be seen as Carpenter's response to the failure of The Thing, which I think he has said he felt failed because it was an 'evil alien' film at the exact moment when 'good aliens' were en vogue with Close Encounters and E.T., but its kind of a riff on the Spielberg formula on his own terms. There are government cabals and black helicopters, but they're relatively humanised (particularly in the main SETI guy and his rather incongruous habit of trying to do a macho Snake Plissken thing with a cigar!), and in the end its the female version of a "Close Encounters" story compared to the focus on the relationship of boys with aliens in the Spielberg films. Especially for how down to earth the main character is, and although she gets caught up in the fantasy of this alien having taken the form of her dead husband, she is always still well aware that this isn't the man she once loved but an entirely different being. The burgeoning relationship then feels as if it becomes more about committing to someone else following a previous relationship that meant the world to you, rather than trying to recapture what was lost. The declaration of love at the end isn't to her past but to her current lover, even if that relationship is also doomed through circumstance to not be a lasting one.

I particularly love the inversion of the 'Spielberg ending' in which (spoilers):
Despite in the moment saying that she wants to go with the alien, that is impossible. Not just because she would "die up there" as the alien says, but because only boys like Richard Dreyfuss are allowed to forsake their Earthly bounds and jet off into the unknown, merrily leaving everything behind them. Women are more fated to be tied to the Earth and left behind (often carrying a baby) whilst their men leave. But because this film is more about her than the alien that's in no way presented as a bad thing here, resulting in that beautiful final shot of the departure (that would usually be the opportunity for a grand-scaled spaceship shot blasting off into space, and we have had a couple of shots of the orb earlier in the scene to sate that interest) instead being a long held shot of Karen Allen watching as the lighting changes around her and the camera lifts up to imply the ship taking off whilst we are focused on something much more important and which is more spectacular than any model shot could have been.

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