JOHN CARPENTER COLLECTION
films see below extras
Including The Fog, They Live and Escape From NY.
1980-88 oUt Now DVD, BD, 4K, Digital HD (The Fog, They Live), Steelbook (Prince Of Darkness) 26 NoveMber DVD, BD, 4K, Digital HD (Escape From New York), BD (Prince Of Darkness) extras Commentaries, Featurettes, Intros,
Deleted scenes/outtakes, Galleries
All my films in one way or another are about people who are trapped in situations they are no longer able to control… people who must rise to the occasion,” says director John Carpenter in the extras for They Live, before catching himself. “But basically it’s an action movie.” That, in a nutshell, is the key to these four 1980s releases, out on 4K Blu-ray with bucket-loads of extras. Each concerns ordinary-ish people forced to adopt a siege mentality in the face of encroaching evil. Each takes a nononsense approach to genre. And each kicks a righteous amount of ass.
The Fog (1980, is a low-key follow-up to Halloween: it could be called The Night They Came Home. Set in small-town-with-a-secret San Antonio Bay on the eve of its 100th birthday, it sees a great cast (including real-life mum and daughter Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis) beset by vengeful Lovecraftian ghosts. Deliciously creepy, if a little oldfashioned, it’s a movie that went through the wringer, re-shot from
scratch because, as Carpenter admits on the extras, “It was really bad.”
Pitting one-eyed badass Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) against a rogue’s gallery of B-movie stars (Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Isaac Hayes) on the prison island of Manhattan, 1981’s Escape From New York (★★★★★) has swagger to spare. If time hasn’t been kind to the computer SFX, Carpenter and Russell’s anti-authoritarian insouciance more than compensates.
The second part of the Apocalypse Trilogy (after 1982’s The Thing), supernatural horror Prince Of Darkness (1987, is the weakest film here. Written by ‘Martin Quatermass’ (actually Carpenter), it follows priest Donald Pleasence and a bunch of quantum physics students trying to prevent the end of days in a derelict LA church. Unappealing characters and a lame MacGuffin (essentially a big vat of evil green piss) let the side down.
The nicest surprise, meanwhile, is 1988’s They Live (★★★★), a ridiculously pumped sci-fi slugfest about a blue-collar dude (wrestler Roddy Piper) waking up to the aliens who walk among us. Of its many highlights, the six-minute fist fight has to be seen to be (dis)believed. “I just wrote, ‘The fight continues,’” admits Carpenter. And boy does it.
It’s not hard to imagine the famously unpretentious Carpenter rolling his eyes at all the general fanfare adorning these releases.
But he needn’t worry. They’re still basically action/horror/sci-fi movies – but as in They Live, there’s a lot going on under the surface. Matt Glasby