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6 Essential John Carpenter Horror Films You Must See

6 Essential John Carpenter Horror Films You Must See

Now that legendary horror director John Carpenter, along with Robert Englund, is set to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year, it’s a perfect time to revisit some of Carpenter’s finest horror films. This list is entirely subjective, based on personal preference. Carpenter has directed 18 theatrically released films, and here are a few favorites. Honorable mentions go to “Christine,” “Escape from New York,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” and his “Masters of Horror” episode titled “Cigarette Burns.”

Following the success of “Halloween,” Carpenter directed an old-fashioned ghost story titled “The Fog.” Set in the coastal town of Antonio Bay, California, on the eve of its centennial, “The Fog” tells of drowned mariners who return from the sea to take revenge on the town’s elders for a wrong done many years ago.

The film creates a haunting atmosphere, especially with the dense fog that consumes the seaside town. The cast is fantastic, featuring Adrienne Barbeau as DJ Stevie Wayne, Jamie Lee Curtis as Elizabeth Solley in a role contrasting her innocent character Laurie Strode, and Tom Atkins as Nick Castle.

“The Fog” is available for rent on digital platforms like Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

“They Live” is a biting satire that magnificently blends horror and comedy, focusing more on the comedic aspects. This movie is a satirical look at Reagan’s America, specifically consumerism. The film has inspired countless memes, particularly the line, “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble gum.”

The cast includes Roddy Piper as the reluctant hero Nada, horror icon Keith David as Frank, and Meg Foster as Holly. Unfortunately, the film’s message about consumerism and corporate power remains relevant today. “They Live” is Carpenter’s protest against unregulated corporations shaping our thoughts and purchases.

“They Live” is available for rent or purchase on digital platforms like Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

“Prince of Darkness” is the second film in Carpenter’s self-proclaimed apocalypse trilogy, starting with 1982’s “The Thing” and concluding with 1994’s “In the Mouth of Madness.” Although initially receiving a lukewarm reception, the film has recently gained more attention, possibly due to the current chaotic state of the world.

This moody and atmospheric film follows a group of graduate students and scientists who uncover an ancient canister in a church that might signify the end of days. Accidentally, they release the canister’s strange liquid, unleashing evil. The film stars Donald Pleasence as an unnamed priest and Lisa Blount as Catherine, with a cameo by Alice Cooper as a creepy ghoul.

“Prince of Darkness” features several unsettling sequences, especially in the final minutes. It is available to rent or buy on digital platforms like Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

“In the Mouth of Madness” may not be a perfect film, but it’s utterly bonkers and a lot of fun, largely due to Sam Neill’s performance as John Trent, an insurance investigator sent to solve the disappearance of horror writer Sutter Cane. It’s a treat to see Neill return to horror after the success of “Jurassic Park.”

The film, the final installment of Carpenter’s apocalypse trilogy, is based on the Lovecraft mythos. It’s one of the strongest Lovecraftian movies of the last three decades, capturing the essence of madness.

“In the Mouth of Madness” is available to rent or buy on digital platforms like Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

“The Thing” received lukewarm reviews initially but has since become a classic. The film boasts fantastic practical effects courtesy of Rob Bottin and a stellar cast, including Kurt Russell as MacReady and Keith David as Childs.

The iconic ending leaves viewers pondering whether MacReady or Childs is infected by the shape-shifting alien. The film serves as a metaphor for paranoia, distrust, and even the AIDS pandemic.

“The Thing” is available to rent or buy on digital platforms like Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

Debating between “The Thing” and “Halloween” as the more perfect film is challenging. Both are near-flawless horror masterpieces. “Halloween,” although not the first slasher film, ignited the slasher boom of the 1980s.

This film features the iconic Michael Myers and one of cinema’s most memorable final girls, Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. “Halloween” launched Carpenter’s career and wouldn’t have happened without Debra Hill, who co-wrote the script and made several essential choices alongside Carpenter.

“Halloween” is currently streaming for free on platforms like Crackle, Xumo Play, Sling TV, and Plex. It is also available on AMC+ and Shudder with a subscription.

Source: 1428 Elm