Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…
HALLOWEEN (1978) and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986)
It has to be Halloween. It just has to. Not only is it a work of terrifying brilliance, but it’s also one of the most important films ever made: after 1960’s Psycho and 1974’s Black Christmas, Carpenter’s Halloween firmly established the concept of the slasher film and changed the entire genre of horror forever. When you’ve finished that, follow it up with Big Trouble In Little China, the fantasy comedy that’s really unlike any other film you’ve seen. Watching this back-to-back with Halloween is not only a hell of a fun evening’s viewing, but also the best way to demonstrate Carpenter’s impressive range.
Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen Halloween, seek out his seminal horror-thriller The Thing (1982). If you can’t get or have already seen Big Trouble In Little China, seek out his first feature film, the science fiction comedy Dark Star (1974).
The Hidden Gem: Want to see something a bit off the beaten path? A Carpenter film people don’t talk about as much as the others? Then you need 1978’s Someone’s Watching Me!. This TV movie was filmed between Assault On Precinct 13 and Halloween, but aired after Halloween’s release. It’s an incredible thriller, a throwback to classic Hitchcock films (particularly Rear Window), and features one of the best characters ever in a Carpenter film: Lauren Hutton’s amazing Leigh Michaels. If you can find it, watch it.
The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Garth Franklin talking John Carpenter, will be released on the morning of January 31 (AEST).