It was John Carpenter’s birthday, yesterday (January 16). While I most often use this space to feature drawings of monsters – and movie monsters in particular – I also like to draw the people who make those monsters or direct them or run from them or… well, you get the idea.
Last year Sailor Monsoon and Vincent Kane invited me to be on their Night of the Lists podcast for an episode featuring a draft of horror directors. For my first pick I went with David Cronenberg, but it was a struggle – because John Carpenter has made so many of my favorite films – and not just horror movies. (Check out the podcast here to see who DID end up with Carpenter.)
As I said then, John Carpenter feels like a part of the family now, I’ve been watching his movies for so long. He’s the too-cool relative that shows up with great stories about the places he’s been, the people he’s met, the monsters he’s unleashed. In a just world John Carpenter would be an A-List director, who we’d talk about in the same breath as Stephen Spielberg or Martin Scorsese. This isn’t a just world, though, and instead we’ve got to be content with calling him a great writer, director and composer. (Hell, I was listening to his remix of Chvrches’ “Good Girls” while drawing this – though I think he’d have done a great job on their “Final Girl” as well.)
If I’m making a list of my favorite Carpenter films (and I probably should rank them at some point), I gotta put The Thing at the top. It’s not just his greatest film, it’s the greatest horror movie ever (IMHO) and I always wonder what his career would have been like had the film done well at the box office. He makes incredible films with no time and no budget, but given both those things he made this masterpiece. I wish he’d been given the opportunity to make more of them.
I guess I’ll be content with some of his other greatest hits, with my favorites including Big Trouble in Little China, Halloween, They Live, Escape From New York and Prince of Darkness. I even have a soft spot for Starman.
John Carpenter really deserves a longer, more intensive article – maybe someday. For now, I enjoyed drawing him at the end of a long, ice-and-snow-filled day. I kinda want to watch one of his movies now. Luckily there’s a bunch of good ones. In lieu of a more in-depth piece, here are a couple of illos inspired by his films.
What’s your opinion of John Carpenter? Favorite film? Favorite album? How about that Gunship video where he does the opening narration?