Cheesy B-Movie Goodness of John Carpenter's Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York

In this installment of Cheesy-B-Goodness we take a look at a few films (Halloween, The Fog and Escape from New York) by the legendary John Carpenter. Carpenter had his hits and misses as far as the box office was concerned, but many of his films went on to become Cult Classics and garnered him acknowledgements as an influential filmmaker.

John Howard Carpenter (born January 16, 1948) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, editor and composer. Although Carpenter has worked in numerous film genres, he is most commonly associated with horror and science fiction films from the 1970s and 1980s. Thanks Wikipedia

Let's begin this journey...

carpenter-halloweenHalloween (1978)
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles, Nancy Loomis

The year is 1963, the night: Halloween. Police are called to 43 Lampkin Ln. only to discover that 15 year old Judith Myers has been stabbed to death, by her 6 year-old brother, Michael. After being institutionalized for 15 years, Myers breaks out on the night before Halloween. He stalks a teenage girl (Curtis) and her friends while his doctor (Pleasence) chases him through the streets trying to stop the blood bath.

Thoughts:
The Halloween movie launched a sequel (Halloween II, 1981), but Carpenter didn't direct it, however, he did write it with Debra Hill. Curtis and Pleasence reprised their roles and a franchise was born. It also launched a couple remakes by Rob Zombie.

Halloween delivered the scares in the pre-CGI world of 1978, and it still delivers today, it makes you check the locks on your door before you go to sleep. It is scarier than the boogey-man, because Michael doesn't hide, he goes straight for you, hoping to impale you with his knife. The best of cheesy-B-horror one stab at a time.

carpenter-the-fogThe Fog (1980)
Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, Tom Atkins

The sleepy seaside village of Antonio Bay is about to learn the true meaning of the word vengeance. For this seemingly perfect town masks a guilty secret... a past steeped in greed and murder. Exactly 100 years ago, a ship was horribly wrecked under mysterious circumstances in a thick, eerie fog. Now, shrouded in darkness, the long dead mariners have returned from their water grave to exact a bloody revenge.

Thoughts:
First, like The Thing, they tried a remake of The Fog in 2005 starring Tom Welling (Smallville), but skip that one and watch the original. Really, without Barbeau (who looks hotter in this than The Swamp Thing), Curtis (the original scream queen from Halloween) and Carpenter (The Master), the remake gets lost in its own hazy fog.

The Fog is a classic ghost story mixed with a bit of revenge. It is not the scariest movie ever made but it is drenched with an atmosphere of creepiness and dread (the kind only Carpenter can deliver). It's Grade-A-entertainment, with a bountiful slice of cheesy-B-Goodness.

carpenter-escape-new-yorkEscape from New York (1981)
Cast: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Adrienne Barbeau, Donald Pleasence

In the future (1997), crime is out of control and New York City is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables.

Thoughts:
Escape from NY delivers one of the funnest action-hero characters in a Carpenter film, Snake Plissken played by Kurt Russell. The film is dated with the Narrator at the beginning saying "In 1988, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country". Ignore the narrator, forget the date, and just enjoy the film for what it is, an action romp that travels the road through cheesy-B-goodness and beyond.

Snake Plissken continued his adventure in Escape from L.A. (1996), from East Coast to West Coast, it's over-the-top action, humor and fun, but it falls a bit short of New York. There was even a rumor for awhile that there might be a third film called Escape from Earth, but it never took flight.

Halloween (35th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

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Manufacturer: ANCHOR BAY
List Price: $34.99
Amazon - Buy New For: $25.57 | Used For: $10.19
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Editorial Review: For this very special release, Anchor Bay and Trancas went back to the vaults to present this legendary terror classic as never before, including creating an all-new HD transfer personally supervised by the film’s original cinematographer, Academy-Award® nominee Dean Cundey (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Apollo 13, the Back to the Future trilogy).

Halloween stars Jamie Lee Curtis (A Fish Called Wanda, True Lies) in her debut role. Anyone who's ever watched a horror film in the last 35 years knows the story of Michael Myers, who as a child, butchered his sister with a kitchen knife. Committed to a mental institution and watched over by Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance, Halloween II, IV & V, Fantastic Voyage), he engineers his escape 15 years later, returning to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night to terrorize anyone who gets in his way, including babysitter Laurie Strode (Curtis).

Co-starring P.J. Soles (Carrie, Stripes, Rock 'n Roll High School), Kyle Richards (The Watcher in the Woods, Eaten Alive), Nancy Loomis (Carpenter's Assault On Precinct 13, The Fog), Charles Cyphers (Escape From New York, The Fog) and Brian Andrews (The Great Santini, Three O'Clock High), Halloween also cemented the careers of many behind the camera including Carpenter, Cundey, producer Debra Hill and film editor/production designer Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season of the Witch, ''It'').


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The Fog (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]

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Manufacturer: Shout! Factory
List Price: $17.49
Amazon - Buy New For: $11.90 | Used For: $16.97
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Editorial Review: When the fog rolls in... the terror begins! This moody horror classic from master of terror John Carpenter (The Thing) and producer Debra Hill (Escape from New York) stars Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Tom Atkins (Halloween III: Season of the Witch), Hal Holbrook (Creepshow) and Janet Leigh (Psycho). Don’t get lost in the fog...


The sleepy seaside village of Antonio Bay is about to learn the true meaning of the word vengeance. For this seemingly perfect town masks a guilty secret... a past steeped in greed and murder. Exactly 100 years ago, a ship was horribly wrecked under mysterious circumstances in a thick, eerie fog. Now, shrouded in darkness, the long dead mariners have returned from their water grave to exact a bloody revenge.


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Escape from New York (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging)

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Manufacturer: MGM (Video & DVD)
List Price: $24.99
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Editorial Review: A thrilling landmark film that jolts along at a breakneck pace, Escape From New York leaped to cult status with high-octane action, edge-of-your-seat suspense and a mind-blowing vision of a lone warrior (Kurt Russell) battling his way out of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan! Hailed as "stylish and scary" (Los Angeles Times), "dark and dangerous" (Newsweek) and "gloriously...fun" (Tyler Morning Telegraph), this fast-paced and furiously entertaining thriller grabs you by the throat and won't let go! In a world ravaged by crime, the entire island of Manhattan has been converted to a walled prison where brutal prisoners roam. But when the U.S. President (Donald Pleasence) crash-lands inside, only one man can bring him back: notorious outlaw and former Special Forces war hero Snake Plissken (Russell). But time is short: in 24 hours, an explosive device implanted in his neck will end Snake's mission and his life unless he succeeds!


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Bob Suggs

I currently live in Pensacola, FL with my wife and a little cat monster named "Rocky".

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