John Carpenter was born in 1948 in New York. Fascinated with films from an early age he made several shorts in the horror genre and then studied film at university. His first major film as director was the 1974 sci-fi black comedy Dark Star and people were impressed by how much Carpenter could squeeze out of a very low budget.
Over the next 12 years Carpenter was to make some of the finest films to grace our screens, two of them classics in the horror genre. First came Assault on Precinct 13 in 1976, a gritty siege on a police station. In 1978 there was the made for television movie Someone's Watching Me! and the same year came the film which established the slasher genre and spawned a long line of sequels and imitators, the horror classic Halloween. Featuring a psycho killer called Michael Myers; the film was made for just $325,000 and took around $50 million at the US box office alone. Carpenter also composed the memorable musical theme for the film.
The following year Carpenter directed another made for television movie about Elvis and then in 1980 he returned to horror with The Fog. It wasn's a critical success but it did very well commercially. In 1981 there was the cult classic Escape from New York and then in 1982 the fantastic sci-fi horror The Thing. This was Carpenter's most expensive film to date with a budget of $10 million and it showed. Combining a great cast and some terrific effects the film did surprisingly poorly at the box office but is correctly remembered as one of the best horrors ever made.
In 1983 he directed the Stephen King adaptation Christine which was critically and commercially successful. The following year there was Starman and then in 1986 the comedy classic Big Trouble in Little China which was a box office failure. Carpenter returned to lower budget productions and horror with Prince of Darkness in 1987 and They Live in 1988.
As his career has progressed his films have become less memorable, throughout the 90's he released such films as Memoirs of an Invisible Man, In the Mouth of Madness, Village of the Damned, Escape from L.A. and Vampires. In 2001 he directed the universally panned Ghosts of Mars. Carpenter is one of the most successful independent film makers ever and despite the misfires in recent years he had a golden period where everything he produced was fantastic. He is currently working on a new horror flick called L.A. Gothic.
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