Quantcast Trilogy Pics - 3 Movies You Should Watch Tonight: NOVEMBER 2004 - BEST OF JOHN CARPENTER



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November 2004 Trilogy Pics:
It's November and last month we interviewed stars from the "Halloween" movie series. John Carpenter directed the original "Halloween" movie and this month's trilogy pics are a salute to some of his other films you may not have seen.
Big Trouble in Little China: Not really a horror movie, it's something like a kung-fu movie meets Indiana Jones. Kurt Russell stars truck driver Jack Burton who finds himself in the middle of an mystical ancient Chinese gang war. You've got a lady-friend in danger, lots of well choreographed martial arts fight sequences, a little bit of magic, a monster or two and it all adds up to a very entertaining 90 minutes. It's the perfect way to warm your friends up for a night of John Carpenter, because so many people just see him as a horror director.
Up next is the very strange "The Fog", one of my favorite Carpenter films. "The Fog" was Carpenter's big horror follow-up to "Halloween". Slow, deliberate, and just plain creepy, "The Fog" showcases not only Carpenter's ability to master a real mood piece, but the talents of those he surrounds himself with: Dean Cundey's photography is simply perfect and Tommy Lee Wallace's production design couldn't have captured the setting any better. With that team behind this odd ghost story about the restless sprits of a shipwreck's victims manifesting itself in a deadly fog covering the sleepy seaside town of Antonio Bay ready works. It is, by all means, a different kind of horror movie, the kind perhaps early 80's audiences weren't used to seeing anymore. It's got a few "boo" moments in there, but it's the way this film almost makes you literally feel and taste the cold, salty Northern Pacific air, the way it unfolds (just like it begins) like a ghost story told around a campfire that really makes "The Fog" standout as one of Carpenter's most effective films.
Finally, I was going to pick "They Live", but like most Carpenter movies 10-15 years after they are released it seems to be enjoying a new-found surge of popularity, then I thought about "In The Mouth of Madness", my second favorite Carpenter movie (and definitely one to check out) until I picked up a movie I never remembered having a lot of love for: "Prince of Darkness". You know something? I just fell in love with this movie. (What is it with Carpenter? Why is he always ahead of his time?)
It always sounded like a fantastic idea for a horror movie: There is an ancient jar of churning evil, quite possibly the devil, in an abandoned church and now we're going to stay in that church on the very night that jar is starting to spring a leak. I guess "back in the day" I would have much preferred if the group of hapless victims was just a standard bunch of nekkid girlies and their dumb boyfriends, and perhaps that's why I, and the audience of 1987, never quite found the patience for "Prince of Darkness". I wouldn't be surprised if this is the next Carpenter film "rediscovered" because it is intelligent, very scary movie and probably one of the best horror films I've seen out of the 80's.
So, yes, instead of the standard "dead teenagers", Donald Pleasance recruits a group of biology, physics, and theology graduate students together to study Satan's Giant Mint Julep and determine what it is, exactly, and if it is, in fact dangerous (it is, of course). They spend the first hour of the film revealing all the spooky facts and figures (it's millions of years old, it can only be opened from the inside. you know, it's Satan. Of course it is.) oblivious to the group of really freakin' creepy homeless people that have gathered around the church and are slowly blocking them in. They also remain oblivious to the group members who are starting to become possessed and turning into mindless, deadly zombies. It's the kind of horror movie that has plenty of creepy, scary gross things (I mean, really, is there really anything more disgustingly disturbing than throwing up evil into someone else's mouth?) while managing to keep the story going and keep it interesting and smart. Finally, the last 45 minutes of this film is tense, suspenseful and just as scary as the remaining members of the group are chased around by the zombies, held hostage by army of homeless creeps, and have to figure out a way to stop that damn jar of evil. Did you like the last 20 minutes of "Halloween"? Good. Carpenter does it again here. This movie is the perfect combination of elements of sci-fi, a little bit of Fulci's "The Beyond", and Carpenter's own "Assault on Precinct 13". Totally under-appreciated. Ahead of it's time. You'll love it. -mikec.

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