The John Carpenter filmography is widespread and diverse. Although many of his peers may have matched or exceeded his output, few directors evoke as specific an aesthetic by name alone. Anyone who’s seen a few John Carpenter films would recognize his affinity for practically created monsters, rich concepts, and sick synth-rock inspired soundtracks composed by the director himself. His stories explore the dark side of the unknown, the hubris of man’s institutions, and the middle ground where science and the spiritual world meet. Not all Carpenter movies are created equal, however; in this article, we’re going to share our comprehensive list ranking all of the Carpenter movies from worst to best. 

JOHN CARPENTER MOVIES RANKED

21. Ghosts Of Mars (2001)

Best John Carpenter Movies  •  Behind The Scenes: Ghost of Mars

The story follows Lt. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) who is on a mission to transport prisoner James Williams (Ice Cube) to a remote mining colony on Mars. The film is set in the 22nd Century; the red planet has long since been terraformed and humans walk freely without spacesuits on the surface.

Upon discovering the mining colony to be completely deserted, Ballard learns that the workers had unwittingly released an ancient legion of martian body snatching ghosts that wrought havoc, possessing the miners and leading them to acts of murder and destruction.

In concept, it’s kind of a weird mixture of every Carpenter movie ever made, (Revenge ghosts from The Fog, Premise of Assault On Precinct 13, Possession from The Thing/Prince Of Darkness, etc.) boiled down and infused with bad acting and a convoluted plot.

20%
concept
30%
synth score
50%
special effects
  • Ice Cube
  • Freaky Costumes
  • “Thoughtful” Worldbuilding
  • Kind Of Confusing
  • Sub Par Acting
  • Bad Dialog

Best John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

Ghosts of Mars never got much positive feedback upon its release, or with time having passed. Many see it as a shining example of Carpenter’s tendency to get lost in details of a big budget world, and forgetting to focus on a more absorbable plot. It’s not surprising this experience caused the director to need a 9-year breather. 

Directed By John Carpenter

20. Memoirs Of An Invisible Man (1992)

Behind The Scenes: Memoirs Of An Invisible Man

Chevy Chase plays Nick Halloway, a stock analyst who keeps to himself who ends up the victim of a factory explosion which renders him invisible. When the CIA shows up to investigate the incident, Agent David Jenkins (Sam Neil) discovers Nick and transfers him via ambulance to a hospital.

Realizing that the CIA will keep him in captivity to study him, Nick breaks free and attempts to reach out to what few contacts he has in hopes that they will help him evade capture. Soon he joins up with new girlfriend, Alice Monroe (Darryl Hannah), and the two embark on a fugitive sprint to Mexico while they try to shake the CIA and overcome the unusual obstacles facing their new relationship. 

40%
concept
10%
synth score
50%
special effects
  • Good Cast
  • Decent Effects
  • Box Office Success
  • Schizophrenic Tone
  • Mediocre Script
  • Chase As Serious Lead

John Carpenter Filmography

Conclusion

Although the film placed second on the box office charts upon its initial release, Memoirs Of An Invisible Man was pretty universally seen as a disappointment. People had a hard time pinning down the tone as trailers played the film as a wacky comedy, but the result was a bit more of a pulled back “dark” comedy which confused people who expected the usual lampoonery they were used to from Chevy Chase. 

Best John Carpenter Films

19. The Ward (2010)

Behind The Scenes: The Ward

A young protagonist, Kristen (played by Amber Heard), is institutionalized after burning down a nearby barn. Upon being interviewed by her doctors, it turns out that Kristen has no memory of her past or the act that got her committed. She soon discovers strange things afoot in the hospital when she’s attacked by a deformed creature none of the doctors will believe her about.

When another inmate is murdered, Kristen befriends some of her fellow patients and discovers they too have seen the monster, which is believed to be the vengeful spirit of a former inmate, Alice Hudson. As Alice continues to wreak murderous havoc, Kristen attempts to save herself and the other patients by escaping the hospital before it’s too late.

40%
concept
40%
synth score
20%
special effects
  • Well Made
  • “Cleaner” Concept/Story
  • Decent Genre Piece
  • Predictable
  • Easy Jump Scares
  • Typical Twist

Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

Lacking much of the imagination seen in Carpenter’s other worlds and characters, The Ward, is a decently made if forgettable horror marking the end of a great director’s career. Though a correction from his preceding films that were argued to be too complicated, it will probably scrapes toward the bottom of most fans’ lists. 

Best John Carpenter Movies

18. Village Of The Damned (1995)

Trailer: Village Of The Damned

After an entire town of people experience a mysterious collective blackout, ten townswomen awake to find themselves inexplicably pregnant. When the women soon give birth together in a local barn, the resulting children turn out to be a strange group of silent and abnormally pale psychics.

The children do as they please, and invoke violent psychic episodes to befall anyone who provokes or opposes them. It is soon discovered that children like this have appeared during multiple mass blackouts across the world, and a group of government scientists determine the factions of psychic children to be of alien descent.  

The children turn on the scientists, murdering them and all but taking over the town as a local doctor and school principal team up in an attempt to destroy these menaces once and for all. 

40%
concept
40%
synth score
30%
special effects
  • Eerie Atmosphere
  • Cool Premise
  • X-Files-esque
  • Box Office Flop
  • Lazy Remake
  • Sappy acting

Directed By John Carpenter

Conclusion

Released in a time when Carpenter’s spell on audiences seemed to be fading, the movie was seen as a little cheesy and not very well received. Without much to distinguish it from the original black and white 1957 version (which arguably worked better because the effects felt more groundbreaking in an older film), or from the rest of Carpenter’s body of work, village of the Damned was met with an underwhelming reception. Carpenter himself has stated he saw the film more as a “contractual obligation” than a project he was passionate about.

John Carpenter Movies Ranked

17. Vampires (1998)

Behind The Scenes: Vampires

James Woods plays Jack Crow, a lifelong vampire hunter dedicated to avenge the death of his vampirically murdered parents. He and his team of slayers are backed by local law enforcement and the Catholic church as they travel New Mexico ridding the landscape of its hidden vampire lairs.

On a particularly successful raid of vampire nest in an old motel, their master Varek escapes and begins hunting Crow and his Crew. Soon Varek attacks, cleaning out half of the slayers on Crow’s team and “turning” a prostitute named Katrina, currently in the slayers’ employ.

Crow, Katrina, and his number two man Tony Montoya narrowly escape, subsequently launch an underdog mission to conquer Varek and his newly formed team of master vampires, the biggest threat Jack has ever faced. 

50%
concept
50%
synth score
20%
special effects
  • Bold
  • Good World Building
  • Western Vibes
  • Female Representation
  • Unrefined
  • Bad Acting

Best John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

Widely panned in a commercial sense, Vampires has garnered a cult following who revel in the overly-stylized and arguably bad execution of an okay concept. The film was met with pretty negative reviews, including scathing criticism as to its depiction of female characters. The film’s legacy is perhaps one of Carpenter’s most mixed but even if it wasn’t liked, it will never be forgotten. 

All John Carpenter Films

16. Prince Of Darkness (1987)

Trailer: Prince Of Darkness

What is evil? In Prince Of Darkness it’s a giant vat of green goo that can infect you with nightmares if you get too close to it. Part 2 of Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy, this film sets up an awesome premise and then lets it run a little wild.

A priest who speaks through dreams invites a team of scientists to join him at his monastery, where he shows them a giant vial of liquid that they discover to be the physical essence of Satan. As their stay progresses, the scientists experience a recurring dream of a shadowed figure emerging from the doors of a church and a voice that warns them it is a broadcast of the future.

The liquid eventually begins to escape its container, possessing guests in the compound and manifesting Satan in human form, who then attempts to summon an entity called “The Anti God” from another dimension. The movie’s filled with awesome visual effects that play with portals, gravity, and plenty of evil goop.

80%
concept
60%
synth score
70%
special effects
  • Cool Concept
  • Alice Cooper’s Army of Hobos
  • Great Effects
  • Convoluted Plot
  • Complicated Ending
  • Flaws In Story Logic

Best John Carpenter Films

Conclusion

While Prince Of Darkness is an awesome swing at a great concept, the story gets a little over-complicated for its own good. It’s difficult to pin down a main character, and there become so many other worldly threats to explain that it’s easy to miss details of what’s happening. The story is still a cool effort to fuse fantasy and sci-fi, and it’s definitely worth the ride. 

Best John Carpenter Movies

15. Escape From L.A. (1996)

Behind The Scenes: Escape From LA

A sequel to Carpenter’s 1981 thriller, Escape From New York, this film throws us into the “distant future” of Los Angeles in 2013. America has come to be led by a conservative zealot hellbent on enforcing his own codes of morality on the populous at large. Those who do not abide by this code are considered “morality offenders” and are shipped off to the prison colony of Los Angeles which has become surrounded by sea water due to a tsunami the president claims to have been sent by God.

When the president’s daughter aligns herself with a revolutionary leader stationed inside LA, the government must call upon the help of a legendary rebel by the name of Snake Plissken, played by Kurt Russell. Snake is apparently the only man in this new world skilled enough to surpass the plot’s many diverse challenges, including sewer surfing, hang gliding, gunplay, and basketball. Jammed with Celebrity cameos, great sets, and detailed dystopian fiction world building this film is somehow wilder than the first and twice as ridiculous.

With many of the same story beats as EFNY, and the addition of CGI, this sequel seems harder to ground in reality but makes up for it by leaning into its over the top elements. gone much crazier in the 20 or so years between their stories. 

70%
concept
70%
synth score
80%
special effects
  • Wild Characters
  • Awesome Action
  • Bigger Budget
  • Super Cheesy
  • Excessive Exposition
  • Basketball Scene

John Carpenter Films

Conclusion

Though this film had a significantly larger budget than the original, the overall product is a little too much to be taken seriously. The crazy state of the world has become much more cartoonish, and the use of early CGI as well as Snake’s exaggerated attitude make the whole thing feel like more of a caricature of the first film than a sequel. 

Carpenter Movies

14. Elvis (1976)

Making Of: Elvis

A biographical detailing of the life of The King, Elvis follows a young Elvis Presley (Kurt Russell) throughout the early years of his life, the start of his career, and into 1970. Released as an TV movie on ABC, it marked the first of many collaborations between Kurt Russell and John Carpenter.

Regardless of what you think of the film, for that reason alone you should be glad it’s in existence. Though, there was a subsequently released re-edited version, the original plot picks up young Elvis living with his parents until he meets manager “Colonel” Parker and releases the single Heartbreak Hotel, which skyrocketed him to stardom. 

60%
concept
50%
synth score
20%
special effects
  • Great Performance
  • Refreshing Break From Horror
  • Good Music
  • Timeline Inaccuracies
  • Hard To Find
  • No Forrest Gump

John Carpenter Film

Conclusion

A weird mix of magic led to the huge success of this TV film. Russell had worked previously as an Elvis impersonator, and even worked with/met The King as a child actor on the set of It Happened At The World’s Fair, not to mention the well documented chemistry between Elvis’s star and director. The movie premiered in a time slot competing against Gone With the Wind, And One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and beat them both in the ratings with a splash so big it even earned the biopic a theatrical run in Australia and Europe. 

Best John Carpenter Movies

13. Someone’s Watching Me! (1978)

Clip: Somebody’s Watching Me

This made for TV horror stars Laura Hutton as Leigh Michaels, a new resident of Los Angeles who lands a job directing for live television. One day, a mysterious older man notices her from the balcony of a theater and begins an obsession that haunts Michaels’ life.

He enters her apartment when she’s out, watches her through a telescope, and sends a windfall of mysterious and unwanted gifts. The police disregard this as non-threatening, and soon Leigh must take matters into her own hands. 

80%
concept
40%
synth score
60%
special effects
  • Good Performances
  • Decent Setup
  • Suspenseful POV Sequences
  • TV Budget
  • Dated Cheesiness
  • Familiar Gags

John Carpenter Movies List

Conclusion

Because it was made for television, Somebody’s Watching Me! Is an oft forgotten addition to Carpenter's list of films, and many exclude it from his overall body of work. It had pieces and sequences typical of voyeur horror, and thusly also could have just been overshadowed by Carpenter’s classic, Halloween which was released in theaters immediately afterward. 

John Carpenter Movies List

12. Starman (1984)

Behind The Scenes: Starman

When a communique from Earth reaches an alien civilization, the aliens send a correspondent in response. Upon entry, however, the alien visitor’s ship is gunned down and the terrified pilot hides in plain sight by inhabiting the body of a Wisconsin man Scott Hayden (Jeff Bridges). The alien then kidnaps Scott’s wife Jenny (Karen Allen) and enlists her help in traveling to a rendezvous with his alien compatriots in Arizona.

Hoping to outrun the government forces seeking to capture Scott for study or worse, the two embark on a cross country road trip that fosters a spirit of connection and understanding between two creatures from different worlds. 

70%
concept
60%
synth score
70%
special effects
  • Great Performances
  • Surprisingly Heartfelt
  • Onscreen Chemistry
  • Packaged As Sci-Fi
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Humans Are Jerks

Best John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

This film took audiences by surprise as it was advertised, and feels in the first act, to be a typical sci-fi drama but turns into what people still remember as a standout love story. A bit more mushy in this way than most Carpenter films, Starman served as a pleasantly surprising boost for both Carpenter’s wallet and Jeff Bridges’s career. 

John Carpenter Film

11. Body Bags (1993)

Making Of: Body Bags

In this TV anthology movie modeled in a similar fashion as Creepshow, or Tales From The Crypt, wherein John Carpenter himself stars as a creepy morgue attendant who introduces three horror shorts directed by Carpenter, Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and Larry Sulkis (Ghosts of Mars, and Village of The Damned screenwriter).

The first short, “Gas Station” follows a young girl working the graveyard shift at a gas station when a killer is on the loose. The second, “Hair” follows a middle aged business man who participates in an experimental hair growth trial that takes a horrible toll on his body.

The third, “Eye,” follows a former major league pitcher who after an auto accident gets a transplant surgery that sticks him with the eye of a former serial killer and forces macabre visions on the eyeball’s new recipient. 

60%
concept
70%
synth score
70%
special effects
  • Campy As Hell
  • Great Cameos
  • Succinct Chapters
  • Campy As Hell
  • Not SOLELY Carpenter
  • TV Quality

Carpenter Films

Conclusion

Depending on what you’re looking for, this collection may read as more fun than some of Carpenter’s other horror projects. Done more in the spirit of camp, these shorts get a little more wild in the vein of old style B-horror than Carpenter’s later high budgeted concepts. Not to be taken too seriously, Body Bags, is a fun change of pace on our list and great love letter to modern horror. 

Top Ten John Carpenter Movies

10. Dark Star (1975)

Film: Dark Star

Originally a student film, Dark Star is considered a satire of modern sci-fi/ space dramas. It’s set in the mid 22nd century aboard a spaceship called the Dark Star, whose mission is to destroy unstable planets that pose possible threats to nearby planets fit for colonization. The story starts 20 years into the mission whereupon the original captain has died, malfunctions abound in the ship, and the crew is starting to unwind. 

The journey unfolds in a farcical sequence of comical errors involving friendly fire, imposters onboard, and philosophical waxings with an artificially intelligent bomb. 

80%
concept
80%
synth score
80%
special effects
  • Well-Detailed Concept
  • First Carpenter Score
  • Pleasantly Comical
  • Extremely Low Budget
  • A Little Silly
  • Feels Like Student Film

Top John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

Made for only $60,000 over the course of 4 years, the film transitioned from a sophomoric student project to a half decent feature film that received reasonable praise and stayed in some theaters for nearly five years. It is a contextual triumph, a “little film that could,” if a little slow/scrappy for modern audiences. All in all, a shining debut for Carpenter as a young director. 

Best John Carpenter Movies

9. Christine (1983)

Making Of: Christine

Based on the Steven King novel of the same name, Christine is about a demonic car with a mind of its own. The story follows Arnie Cunningham, a high school nerd who gets a new lease on life after buying a used Ford Fury. As ownership of the new vehicle starts to change Arnie’s behavior and personality, his friend Dennis and girlfriend Claire start to take notice.

But as people try to get between Arnie and Christine, the car begins to perpetrate acts of violence on those who threaten it. Soon Arnie becomes obsessed with Christine, and his friends determine the only way to save him is to destroy her. 

70%
concept
70%
synth score
80%
special effects
  • Good Visual Suspense
  • Clear Premise
  • Fun Ride
  • Tired Concept
  • Dated Style/Tone
  • Slows Toward The End

Directed By John Carpenter

Conclusion

Lower on the totem pole of Carpenter’s big hits, Christine was an initially well received thriller who’s effects have simmered with age. With both Carpenter and King returning often to concepts of evil in inanimate forms, the film is seen by many as “one more on the pile.” Nonetheless, the movie starts with a bang and follows a clear progression, and feels like a pleasantly simple concept from Carpenter before many of his stories became more complicated. 

John Carpenter Movies Ranked

8. The Fog (1980)

Behind The Scenes: The Fog

When local Priest, Father Malone, discovers the diary of his grandfather on the centennial celebration of his town’s founding, he learns that the town was founded on a bloody act of greed and self-interest. The town’s founders were written to have sunk a ship of lepers that was intended to start a colony nearby, subsequently stealing all the money on board and using it to start the coastal California town known as Antonio Bay. A strange glowing fog soon envelopes a boatload of fisherman offshore nearby, bringing with it the spirits of the leper ship who have come for their revenge.   

70%
concept
70%
synth score
80%
special effects
  • Atmospherically Captivating
  • Percussive Score
  • Cool Compositions
  • Underwhelming
  • Slow Burn
  • Crappy Remake

Best John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

The Fog never really blew audiences away, but it has lingered in the conversation of horror for decades since its release. It even garnered a poorly received remake in 2005. It suffered under reshoots, for which Carpenter revised the entire score halfway through the Post-Production process, and though it might not have made the “instant classic” list, something about it has stayed with movie fans ever since. 

Best John Carpenter Movies

7. Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)

Interview-John Carpenter on: Assault On Precinct 13

Inspired by lock-in thrillers like Rio Bravo, this film tells the story of a stand-off from Hell. When the police precinct in a crime-ridden community kills 6 members of a local gang known as Street Thunder, the remaining gang leaders vow vengeance, refusing to rest until every cop on the squad is dead.

Hours away from being shut down for good, the precinct brings in an Interim CO, Lt. Bishop to run the final hours of operation. At the same time, a prison bus containing three convicts stops at the precinct to get an ailing prisoner medical attention. When the gang members come calling all cops, convicts, and civilians inside the station must join forces for survival.

90%
concept
80%
synth score
60%
special effects
  • Efficient Use of Setting
  • Cool Carpenter Score
  • Great story setup
  • Low budget
  • Controversially violent
  • Common Carpenter premise 

Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

The first of many “monster in the house” type films from Carpenter, Assault on Precinct 13 is a solid early film from a talented director. Without extravagant budgets to lean on, Carpenter is left with only his characters and story to work with, which do not disappoint. 

John Carpenter Films

6. In The Mouth Of Madness (1994)

Behind The Scenes: In The Mouth Of Madness

Sam Neil plays an insurance investigator, John Trent, charged with tracking down a missing horror novelist named Sutter Kane. He enlists the help of Kane’s editor, Linda Styles, who tells him Kane’s books have been known to have straining psychological effects on some readers.

As they head to the town where Kane is supposedly holed up, they begin to experience unexplainable phenomena and begin to question their grips on reality. The hunt for one man soon turns into a desperate attempt for Trent to keep a handle on his own sanity. 

90%
concept
80%
synth score
100%
special effects
  • Wild Visual Effects
  • Neil’s Performance
  • Interesting Concept
  • Cheesy Twists
  • Convoluted Plot
  • Lack Of World Logic

Best John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

Though, it was lauded for its extensive use of awesome visual effects, this film may get lost in its own aesthetics a bit too much to deliver a totally satisfying execution of the setup. It has garnered a cult following over the years, but is widely regarded as the first of Carpenter’s films to be over budgeted, and consequently too complicated for its own good. Regardless of the rough edges, this film is a wild ride well worth at least one watch through.

John Carpenter Films

5. Big Trouble In Little China (1986)

Behind The Scenes: Big Trouble In Little China

Starring Kurt Russell, yet again, Big Trouble In Little China is one of the most playful Carpenter films. The story forgoes the usual sci-fi element of his films, and this time embraces ancient magic as the motivator behind most of the movie’s plot. The film follows Jack Burton, a loud mouth trucker who acts a lot tougher than he is.

While trying to collect some gambling winnings in Chinatown, Jack gets caught up in an ancient war of the ancients. When his friend Wang’s fiancée is kidnapped by Miao Yin is kidnapped by an immortal prince known as Lo Pan to complete a demonic ritual of power, Jack must help save his friends, Miao Yin, and all of Chinatown before the evil that lives there takes over the world. 

100%
concept
80%
synth score
100%
special effects
  • Incredible Set Decoration
  • Epic Fight Scenes
  • Compelling Character Arc
  • Shallow Female characters
  • Dated cultural attitudes
  • Stupid Monster

Top Ten John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

Big Trouble nails a great balance between an Indiana Jones style adventure, and a love letter to the kung fu genre. The exposition moves a mile a minute, but the world behind it all is a detailed and imaginative world with lots of character, and the sets built for the film are incredible and do a great job bringing the mystical kingdom to life. It’s a fun packed thrill ride that makes you watch the world a little closer for any magic that might be right under your nose.

Best John Carpenter Movies

4. Escape From New York (1981)

Making Of: Escape From New York

Prequel to the aforementioned, Escape From L.A., this film is set in a fictional future year 1997. The rates of incarceration and societal and racial unrest due to police violence is so bad that the entire island of Manhattan has been converted into a prison colony. When Air Force One is highjacked by a terrorist group and downed in the financial district, the government devised a plan to send a criminal qualified enough to extract the president in time for a Global peace summit Scheduled has in 24 Hours.

Give or take a few infrastructural elements, the politics behind the film play as pretty timely and the series’ nihilistic attitude toward authority echoes a feeling of disillusionment that only seems to intensify as our country ages. This film plays as more subtly atmospheric than its follow up, playing heavily with the negative space of night in the city and “found” source lighting to create an ominous void between Snake’s point of touchdown and his salvation. 

100%
concept
90%
synth score
80%
special effects
  • Great Commentary
  • Awesome 1-Liners
  • Mostly Practical Effects
  • A Little Slow
  • Visually Dark
  • No Dope Monsters

John Carpenter Films

Conclusion

A great beat the clock thriller with some awesome commentary on the mentality of government and justice, Escape From New York, is a thrill ride from the set up to the mic drop. A little bit more streamlined and organic in its production style than the L.A. based sequel, it’s not a wonder that this movie remains an audience favorite of all Carpenter’s works.

Top John Carpenter Movies

3. Halloween (1978)

Making Of: Halloween

Halloween is about a young boy who turns out to be Evil Incarnate. After murdering his teenage sister on Halloween night at 6 years old, Michael Meyers was committed to an asylum. The story begins here, then jumps 15 years in the future when he escapes to his hometown and proceeds to kill a string of babysitters on the anniversary of his sister’s death, Halloween Night.

The film features Jamie Lee Curtis in her first starring role, and co stars Donald Pleasance as Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis. The film was done for cheap, and although it was met with lukewarm critical reception upon its release, Halloween has come to be recognized today as an integral influence in the horror and slasher genres.

80%
concept
100%
synth score
60%
special effects
  • Simple And Scary
  • Great Score
  • Knows what it is
  • Cheesy
  • Blatantly Derivative
  • Sexually Exploitative

Best John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

There are mixed opinions on Halloween, but it has always held a place in the conversation of the horror genre. It could also be argued it was the first in a long line of Carpenter films to feature the practical monster makeup the director’s so well-known for, with Michael’s timelessly iconic mask.

John Carpenter Film

2. They Live (1988)

Behind The Scenes: They Live

Starring Roddy Piper as the everyman drifter known as Nada, They Live is a thriller that aims to show modern society through a new pair of lenses. Nada arrives in LA looking for work, and soon discovers a band of revolutionaries who have developed special sunglasses that show the world as it really is. Upon wearing a pair himself Nada sees that every advertisement, news program, and product on the shelf is underwritten with a subliminal message.

He soon discovers that the entire modern world has fallen victim to a plot of suppression by the united forces of government leaders and an alien that walks among us. With a new sense of sight, Nada enlists the help of his fellow worker Frank (Keith David) and a hostage named Holly (Meg Foster) to seek out the leaders of this nefarious movement in hopes of saving the world. 

100%
concept
100%
synth score
100%
special effects
  • Awesome Concept
  • Cool Glasses Sequences
  • Iconic Imagery
  • Longest Fight Ever
  • “Cheesy” One Liners
  • Sloppy Lighting At Parts

Best John Carpenter Films

Conclusion

This film delivers on every front. It’s got action, it’s high concept, it has surprises, and it drives home a genuinely scathing critique of the implicit contract of capitalist culture. Based on the short story, Eight O’Clock In The Morning, the ideas and images in this film have found their way into countless pop culture references, respected art movements, and more. It’s a timeless classic, an amazing ride, and its commentary will remain fresh until the revolution comes. 

John Carpenter Films Ranked

1. The Thing (1982)

Making Of: The Thing

The Thing is the first in a series of thematically linked movies Carpenter refers to as his Apocalypse. Set in an isolated Arctic research center, The Thing is a “monster in the house” masterpiece and one of Carpenter’s most streamlined films. The first thing we see is a spaceship crash landing in a frozen tundra. From this moment on, the audience is playing catch up.

The story follows the members of the research team as they discover their compound has been infiltrated by an alien life form that can perfectly mask the appearance and behavior of any organism it chooses. With the simple objective of survival, and a base full of possible imposters, we experience the tale through the eyes of another Kurt Russell character — a helicopter pilot named RJ MacReady. With no one to trust, MacReady must identify and exterminate this organism before it kills everyone in the compound, or worse; escapes to assimilate the world’s population. 

100%
concept
100%
synth score
110%
special effects
  • Killer setup
  • Great practical effects
  • Perfect Ending
  • Grim story
  • Bad remake
  • Those poor dogs

All John Carpenter Movies

Conclusion

The Thing is a rare cross section of perfect pacing, minimalist storytelling, and awesome performances. Carpenter has a tendency to somewhat overload his stories with world-building details, but The Thing gives you almost nothing to work with but a location and a monster. The creature takes many shapes while on-screen, all of them masterful displays of puppetry and practical effects. It’s a rare gem of a thriller with a simple and timeless warning: we might not be alone. 

UP NEXT

Stephen King Movies Ranked

Can’t get enough Monsters? Love the feeling of Suspense? Check out the films from fellow “Master of the Macabre,” Stephen King. The New England author’s countless stories have provided some of cinema’s nastiest nightmares for years.

Up Next: King Movies Ranked →
Solution Icon - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows.

Learn More ➜

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.