ACW1978: Halloween

Halloween. 1978.

As with most of these films, I’ve only seen them on VHS before. Man, the blu-ray transfers look fine. (And all of John Carpenter’s films seem to be available on blu-ray, which is pretty impressive (commercially) for a director.) The movie may have had a small budget, but Carpenter didn’t skimp on the film stock quality.

Aaaanyway. This is the film that started the slasher movie genre, I guess? All the tropes are here in the ur-text: If you have sex, you die; the unkillable semi-supernatural monster; the girl who survives. And the boobs, of course.

But what surprised me most here was how little I was affected. I scare easily, but long stretches of this I was just sitting here wondering why it’s not more scary. Part of the problem may be the sometimes totally cliched cinematography: The camera slides across the room and stops with the phone in the right-hand corner, and the phone then rings. It’s just kinda boring and “professional”.

This post is part of the A Carpenter Winter series.

ACW1976: Assault on Precinct 13

Assault on Precinct 13. 1976.

John Carpenter’s music is a definite draw. It’s kinda raw and has a vitality to it.

Anyway, I thought I had seen this before, but I think I must have been confusing this film with The Warriors or Fort Apache, The Bronx or something.

Some of the scenes are very stylish, some look like they come straight from 70s TV dramas, and some are just way way out there. It’s a strange mix, but it works.

For such a low-budget film, it has a lot of production value. And despite (or because?) the risible premise, it’s really exciting, with plenty of OH YEA DUDE moments. For better or worse.

It runs out of steam around the one hour mark, though.

This post is part of the A Carpenter Winter series.

ACW1974: Dark Star

Dark Star. 1974.

Hey! It’s movie time again!

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this before, but it’s a long long time ago. The context now is very different, because it seems like every other line in the film is familiar from samples in music. I think Meat Beat Manifesto has most of the dialogue on their early-90s albums?

Dark Star is very 70s: Made by hippie nerds for hippie nerds. Which is great! But.

As a sci-fi comedy, it’s more “that sure is wry, man” than “ha ha”. Smoking would probably help, though.

It’s visually very inventive, and probably largely the result of having no money. Plot-wise, it’s probably what some draft dodgers came up with after watching 2001: A Space Odyssey a few too many times.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a cult film. And there are entertaining scenes here. But it’s mainly boring.

This post is part of the A Carpenter Winter series.

A Carpenter Winter

I had planned on re-watching all of Ingmar Bergman’s films starting about right now (we all need cheering up when winter arrives, right?), but the Bergman box set has had its release pushed back two week, so I’m here without any Bergman movies to watch.

So I got all of John Carpenter’s films instead, because that seemed like the most obvious substitution to me.

Join me for a trip back to the fun but scary 70s and 80s!

I’m not really a Carpenter fan: Out of his entire oevre, I think there’s perhaps two films of his that I can remember being impressed with at the time (beyond the “oh, cool” factor): The Thing and They Live.  But perhaps I’m less of a snotty snob now than I was as a teenager, and Carpenter is awesome now?

To accompany these films, I’ll be drinking beer I bought on my recent holiday to Germany and The Netherlands.