Happy Birthday, John Carpenter

John Carpenter - Image via unti-utopia.comToday marks the 64th birthday of one master of horror, John Carpenter! As we reflect on all that John has given us over the years, here are three scenes that represent a look at Carpenter at his most iconic (Halloween), one of his most underrated (In the Mouth of Madness), and his recent return to the genre (2010’s The Ward).

Halloween (1978)

Some variation of the “closet” scene has appeared in hundreds of horror movies since 1978. Jamie Lee plays this so excellently, in that it is close to what I would feel like if someone were trying to kill me. (I would hide in my closet and make those little scared whimpers and feeble faces.) But the whole way this scene goes brings that emotion out, there’s no bells or whistles, and that’s what makes Carpenter such a cool director. The realism of his horror.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

How this scene used to scare me! A problem of YouTube and using clips like this is we’re robbed of the build up that gets to this scene. It’s truly bizarre and comes out of nowhere, and perfectly captures the mood. This is pretty close to what a nightmare feels like, in its pacing and simplicity.

The Ward (2010)

First and foremost, I love the way this scene looks. In our interview with screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, they cited this as one of the scenes from their script that Carpenter completely took to the next level — turning it into a scene that feels memorable. Even though this is new Carpenter, it has the classic Carpenter feeling of dread. We’re watching people do something normal and happy — but we suspect that can’t last for very long.


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