Have you ever heard a story that sounded like it had potential, but it turned out to be kind of empty? Or seen a movie that had a great idea, but not well-executed? Or read a book that lacked some kind of “substance” that could have made the plot richer? You get the feeling that something is missing?
That is the sense I get from John Carpenter.
He is considered one of the classic masters of horror, a movie director who’s been active since the 1970s. His most famous achievement in the horror field has to be Halloween from 1978, which was one of the contributing factors to the creation of the “slasher horror movie”, before the genre went haywire decades later, with one pathetic cliché “teenage slasher movie” after another.
Carpenter has done a number of movies during the years, the ones in the 70s and 80s being the most commercial successes. However, time has been able to “reinstitute” some of his newer works in the film canon of impressive works of film horror. Personally, if I were a movie director, I would see that as kind of annoying. That my movies needs years of pondering and valuation before they are considered passable!
There’s nothing lacking in Carpenter’s stories, concepts and ideas. However, I find that the final pictures always contains a number of flaws. The idea starts out good, but doesn’t get a jump-start, or isn’t evolved to fit the story. Instead of a painting, you get a frame. Also, the characters tend to be too one-dimensional in order to drive the plot to its full potential. To me it’s just frustrating. All this potential, just within reach! A movie that could’ve been perfect is just “good”!
Nonetheless, I enjoy every one of his movies. His directing is well-paced, there’s never any lack of atmosphere, when he’s contributing music to his own music the result is awesome, and the “worlds” he’s building up are always interesting to visit. And most of all for the entertainment value, and of the aforementioned ideas and concepts, which can inspire your own imagination, as well as giving the audience something to talk about when the movie is over.
Details, and some aspects of the basic premises in the stories, are often left in the dark. This can be a bad thing as well as a good one. In Carpenter’s case, I think it’s mostly a good one. One thing people often forgets is that horror is about atmosphere, and in order to achieve that you have to leave behind question marks. Carpenter always provide with answers, but still leaves behind a few question marks here and there.
In this series of posts, I will focus on some themes and ideas I find interesting. Plus, I do not intend to do a repertoire of his entire filmography. Instead, I will focus on his so-called “Apocalypse Trilogy”, which includes the movies:
The Thing (1982),
Prince of Darkness (1987),
and In the Mouth of Madness (1994).
So, without further ado, I guess it’s about time I actually started DOING what I promised a long time ago. “For the next few days” my ass…
Anyway, like I’ve said before…
I’m not going anywhere!