While attending the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema, John Carpenter began work on DARK STAR, a science fiction comedy short that was later expanded into a feature length film and released theatrically in 1975. His second feature, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976) was partially an homage to his idol, Howard Hawks, and basically reimagined that director’s RIO BRAVO in an urban setting. Carpenter’s breakthrough film was HALLOWEEN (1978), the seminal horror film; made for $300,000, it was the most profitable independent movie of its day, and to date has spawned several sequels.
Following HALLOWEEN, he further established his reputation with such genre hits as THE FOG, THEY LIVE, PRINCE OF DARKNESS, the psychological horror film, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, CHRISTINE and THE WARD. His rank as an action director on a wider scale is also evident in such productions as ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, VAMPIRES, THE THING, GHOSTS OF MARS, ESCAPE FROM L.A. and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.
His motion picture credits also include the comedy-thriller, MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, the sci-fi love story, STARMAN, which earned Jeff Bridges a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, the terrifying remake of the classic 1950s horror story.
For the small screen, Carpenter directed the thriller SOMEONE’S WATCHING ME, the acclaimed biographical mini-series, ELVIS, and the Showtime horror trilogy JOHN CARPENTER PRESENTS BODY BAGS. He also directed two episodes of Showtime’s MASTERS OF HORROR series.
He won the Cable Ace Award for writing the HBO movie, EL DIABLO.
In the gaming world, he co-wrote the video game FEAR 3 for Warner Bros. Interactive.
In the world of comics, Carpenter is the co-creator of the award-winning bi-monthly series, “John Carpenter’s Asylum” and the acclaimed annual anthology collection, “John Carpenter’s Tales for a HalloweeNight”.
On Halloween 2014, the director and composer introduced the world to the next phase of his career with “Vortex,” the first single from Lost Themes, his first album of non-soundtrack material. Carpenter’s primacy and lasting influence on genre score work was both rediscovered and reaffirmed. Lost Themes achieved numerous international milestones, including NPR First Listen; features in dozens of press outlets including the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Guardian; three magazine covers; and Top 200 chart success in the U.S. and the U.K.
John Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York. His family later moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where his father was the head of the music department at Western Kentucky University. He attended Western Kentucky University followed by the USC School of Cinema in Los Angeles. WKU awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2007. He lives in Hollywood, California with his wife, Sandy King, his frequent collaborator.
Photo by Kyle Cassidy