Dash 10s…John Carpenter Films

This is Dash Jordan here with another Top Ten and I’m talking to whoever’s reading out there. Like I told my girlfriend, I says, “Look honey, you can’t just watch ‘Halloween’ and NOT want to watch the rest of John Carpenter’s filmography. Other than that, it’s all in the nerdiness.” So when you’re looking for some of the best cult films ever made and you find that grey-haired, chain-smoking demigod of awesomeness staring you down…well, you just take a lesson from old Dash Jordan. You just look that sucker straight in the eye and say, “Give me your best shot, pal…I can take it!”

So, kids…it’s time for another Dash 10s. Today, we’ll be looking at some of my personal favorite John Carpenter films. If any of you who haven’t seen or heard of John Carpenter…don’t worry, I’ll take pity on you. In that case, consider these films as my personal recommendations. As for everyone else, if you agree or even disagree with my list, please remember that this is all my personal opinion and that I would be more than happy to hear yours. Now, let’s get started…

#10-In The Mouth Of Madness

Ahh yes, ‘In The Mouth Of Madness’. A movie so divided, it’ll drive you insane. The thing you gotta understand is that while this movie may have not have been a huge success, it does still manage to leave an impression. This movie shows a lot of guts by doing something that I find fairly rare for a horror film…being Lovecraftian. What’s Lovecraftian? How do I explain it? Okay, do you remember how people used to think Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ or Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’ would be “unfilmable”? Well…

Are you still sane? Okay, let’s just simply put that any movie based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft are either not 100% faithful but overall good movies in their own right, or they end up just “wrong” for all the wrong reasons. ‘In The Mouth Of Madness’ however, is like the ultimate love letter to Lovecraft’s writing style. Literally delving into one’s madness, blending the horrors of reality with the horrors of the unexplained.

See? I can’t explain that. You’ll just have to see the movie for yourself. This movie was made during the 1990s which wasn’t exactly the best decade for Mr. Carpenter. But I like to think that if he’s gonna have at least one of his films from the 90s be truly unique, it might as well be one that could drive you absolutely crazy.

I bet you’ll never look at ‘Jurassic Park’ the same way again…

#9-Escape From L.A.

John Carpenter’s 1996 sequel to his 1981 classic ‘Escape From New York’, Kurt Russell returns as Snake Plissken, the story takes place in L.A. which has now also become a prison state, it was a sequel that a lot of fans have wanted to see for more than 10 years, and it had a budget of $50 million unlike the original’s $6 million. So, what happened?

Oh, right. Well, aside from all the very, very, very silly moments of the film, one can not deny that it’s at least a fun ride. It’s still got that signature John Carpenter style, pretty funny jokes, adequate action, Kurt Russell is STILL awesome and it has probably one of the greatest endings in any movie…ever. True, it is pretty much a rehash of ‘Escape From New York’ set in L.A. in the year 2013(JUST go with it!), but I like to think that while Carpenter has made films that were fun and smart, ‘Escape From L.A.’ is just plain fun. Now, I know that a lot of people don’t generally like this movie and I’m pretty sure I’ll get a lot of hate for it.

Wait what?…ehh, probably nothing.

#8-Assault On Precinct 13

Ha! You guys think that ‘Die Hard’ is the greatest Action movie ever made?!? Well, it is! But, I do like to consider ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ as a prototype to ‘Die Hard’. Think about it: Protagonists are everyday people who rely more on their wits rather than their biceps, the main hero is a cop, our heroes are trapped in a building with little to no backup and a lot of bad guys to shoot. Any exploitation fans out there? The movie has that gritty film style, the action scenes look raw and not stylized, and holds no punches on the violence. Even a kid gets killed in this movie!

Told ya…

Anyways, ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ is not only one of John Carpenter’s first full-length feature films, it’s also a great standalone thriller and yet another great introduction to John Carpenter.

#7-Vampires

Ladies…allow me to introduce you to some REAL Vampires!

Yeah you better turn your head, pal. Now, ‘Vampires’ is one of those rare kinds of Vampire movies like ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’, ’30 Days Of Night’ and ‘Blade’, proving that these bloodsuckers can be both scary and awesome without the long-lost lover or the inner torment cliche. This movie is just Grade A Vampire-killing fun. Plenty of blood and gore, more awesome music from John Carpenter(Oh yeah, he composes his own music too!) and the always angry and charismatic James Woods as Jack Crow; the foul-mouthed, cigar-smoking leader of the Vampire hunters.

Story? Character? Trust me, it’s not all about that. It’s just good Vampiric carnage at its finest.

#6-Christine

Oh man, there is nothing finer than being behind the wheel of your own car…unless your car is possessed. In which case, just stay home and watch ‘Christine’. Talk about peanut butter and jelly, a John Carpenter film based on a Stephen King novel? Yes, please! This movie may have a Stephen King feel to it, but it could still hold its own as a standalone Carpenter film. ‘Christine’ is as simple of a revenge tale as you can get. I bet this movie will teach any somehow-still-existing greasers not to mess with any now-socially-acceptable nerds and their hot rods. This is what made me a lover of classic cars, because that Plymouth Fury is a sexy beast and I want it.

As a matter of fact, I think the flames come in standard. Hehe.

#5-Big Trouble In Little China

  Now here’s what you call a “popcorn movie”. Here’s the catch, this movie is actually awesome and needs no extra butter. Memorable characters? Check! Quotable lines? Check! Martial Arts? Check! Kurt Russell? Check! Kim Cattrall back when she was not only young and hotter but also somewhat-likable? Check-a-doodle-do!

   Oh shut up, Samantha!…What? I was 10, it was called ‘Sex And The City’. Of course I was curious! Anyways, this 1986 film is regarded by many to be the quintessential cult classic, and for good reason. It’s been a major influence on other films, comic books and especially video games as some of the film’s characters and imagery have been the inspiration for the ‘Mortal Kombat’ games.

Pretty sneaky there, NetherRealm Studios! That alone, should tell you why ‘Big Trouble’ is one movie that should NEVER be ignored.

#4-They Live

Ahh…Welcome back to another edition of Influential Masterpiece Theatre. This time, we will be looking at one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper join forces with the voice of Goliath from ‘Gargoyles’ against a race of aliens who have taken over the world with subliminal messaging…yes, it is a rediculous as it sounds.

This is yet another piece of 80’s cheese that you just can’t look away from. Remember how I talked about John Carpenter making movies that were both smart and fun? Well, here you go! A clever stab at social classes and consumerism, with great action and paving the way for some of the most awesome and overused memes and parodies ever.

You have no idea how many of these you can find on Google…Anywho, you need a pair of “special” sunglasses if you haven’t seen this movie yet. Because, you are truly missing out.

#3-The Thing(1982)

I’ll try not to go into too many details, since I’ve already covered this movie in my Top Ten Horror Remakes. I will say that even if you have no idea or simply ignore the fact that it’s a remake, it still manages to work as it’s own film. Sorry, but I just feel that I might as well skip to my #2 since I’ve talked about ‘The Thing’ enough already, from the scares to the practical effects. But, just in case some of you guys still haven’t seen this movie, I’ll just show you at least one more example of how amazing the effects are…

There you go…sleep tight.

#2-Halloween

Oh boy…am I gonna get a lot of negative feedback for this one. Why would I put ‘Halloween’ at the #2 spot? How could I possibly make one of the most important and beloved independent-horror films of all time only my 2nd favorite movie from director John Carpenter? ‘Halloween’, the film that arguably created the “Slasher” genre, kickstarted Jamie Lee Curtis’ career and gave birth to a Horror Movie Icon!

Listen, just because it’s at #2 doesn’t mean I love it any less. It’s still one of my favorite Horror films AND favorite films of all time, so all you naysayers out there with your picket signs and torches need to totally relax.

Thank you, P.J.

  Now with that said, that does not take away from the film’s legacy. If it wasn’t for Michael Myers or “The Shape” as he’s sometimes referred to, there may have never been a Freddy Krueger, a Jason Voorhees or even a Ghostface. Not to mention, the late and great Donald Pleasence giving one of his best and memorable performances ever.

   This movie is simply stunning. It’s John Carpenter doing what John Carpenter does best; taking something as little as a $300,000 budget, and turning it into a gold mine. Almost every frame of this movie just screams with atmosphere, reminding you every second just what holiday it is.

Not yet, kids…not yet.

Now, If you guys are still here and still interested to hear what beat ‘Halloween’ to the #1 spot…here we go.

#1- Escape From New York

Still here? Okay, THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME! Who cares if the movie takes place in the futuristic world of 1997?!? This is yet another influential Carpenter film, do I need to explain why?

There you go, PlayStation fans.

This was the film that made me a fan of Kurt Russell and have a deeper respect for John Carpenter. Everything in this movie is just fantastic. Everything from its music to its gritty comic book-style lighting and camera angles. ‘Halloween’ may have created Michael Myers, but ‘Escape From New York’ created one of the most iconic, memorable, satirized, parodied and homaged anti-heroes of all time. John Carpenter and Kurt Russell have worked on 5 films together and by far, Snake is-

Sorry…Plissken is by far Kurt Russell’s best role. Of course, you can’t have a cult classic without Hollywood’s obligatory remake being in the works. But one must truly wonder how they could possibly replace Kurt Russell…you know, without Kurt Russell coming for you in your sleep.

…oops. Anyways, there should be absolutely no reason why you haven’t seen this movie yet. You only have one life, kids. If you value it, go watch ‘Escape From New York’ and then you’ll realize why I consider it to be THE BEST John Carpenter film.

  Once again, people…while I would like to consider these movies to be my personal recommendations, they are also my opinions. If your opinions differ from mine, please feel free to speak your mind. Until next time, Gotta Dash!

Videos & Photos:

In The Mouth Of Madness(owned by New Line Cinema)

Escape From L.A.(owned by Paramount Pictures)

Assault On Precinct 13(owned by Turtle Releasing & CKK Corporation)

Vampires(owned by Columbia Pictures, Largo Entertainment, Spooky Tooth Productions & Storm King Productions)

Christine(owned by Columbia Pictures, Delphi Premier Productions & Polar Film)

Big Trouble In Little China(owned by 20th Century Fox, TAFT Entertainment Pictures & SLM Production Group)

They Live(owned by Universal Pictures, Carolco Pictures, Alive Films & Larry Franco Productions)

The Thing(1982) (owned by Universal Pictures, David Foster Productions & Turman-Foster Company)

Halloween(owned by Compass International Pictures & Falcon International Pictures)

Escape From New York(owned by AVCO Embassy Pictures & Goldcrest Films)

Starman(owned by Columbia Pictures)

Bloodborne(owned by FromSoftware, SCE Japan Studio & Sony Computer Entertainment)

Twilight(owned by Summit Entertainment, Temple Hill Entertainment, Maverick Films, Imprint Entertainment & DMG Entertainment)

Sex And The City(2008) (owned by Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema & HBO Films)

Mortal Kombat X(owned by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, NetherRealm Studios & High Voltage Software)

Mortal Kombat II(owned by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment & NetherRealm Studios)

Duke Nukem 3D(owned by 3D Realms & GT Interactive Software)

The IT Crowd(owned by FremantleMedia & Channel 4)

SpongeBob SquarePants(owned by Nickelodeon Animation Studios, United Plankton Pictures & MTV Networks International)

Team Fortress 2(owned by Valve Corporation & Electronic Arts)

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring(owned by New Line Cinema, WingNut Films & The Saul Zaentz Company)

Twisted Metal: Black(owned by Incognito Entertainment & Sony Computer Entertainment)

Scrubs(owned by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Disney–ABC Domestic Television & Doozer)

Breaking Bad(owned by AMC, High Bridge Entertainment, Gran Via Productions & Sony Pictures Television)

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas(owned by Walt Disney Pictures)

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain(owned by Konami & Kojima Productions)

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2 thoughts on “Dash 10s…John Carpenter Films

    1. Trust me, I REALLY wanted to put ‘Prince Of Darkness’ on the list but not only did I already have so many favorites but they were films of Carpenters’ that truly left an impression on me. If it’s any consolation, I have plans in the future to do a separate review of ‘Prince Of Darkness’ as well as ‘The Ward’ some time soon. So, be on the look out. Thank you for voicing your opinion and don’t worry about the spelling, it happens.

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