Jan. 25-31, 2002

American Cinematheque Presents...

Escape Artist: A Tribute to John Carpenter In-Person!

Please join us for the first major Los Angeles retrospective of Carpenter’s work, featuring screenings and conversations with genre master John Carpenter!

Series Compiled by Dennis Bartok. Additional Program Notes by Chris D.

Special Thanks to: Gina/John Carpenter’s Office; Anthony Timpson; John Kirk/MGM-UA; Paul Ginsburg/UNIVERSAL FOCUS; Joe Wolfe; Stuart Lisell; Chip Blake/20th Century Fox; Anne Goodman/CRITERION PICTURES; Mike Schlesinger/COLUMBIA REPERTORY; Lisa Oropeza/NEW LINE CINEMA.

Tickets available 30 days in advance.



SCHEDULE (by series)

SCHEDULE (by date)







For the past three decades, director John Carpenter has created some of the most consistently entertaining and brilliantly crafted films in American cinema, from his savage urban western ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, through his awesome chiller HALLOWEEN and his adrenaline-fueled action epic ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. Carpenter’s films have shown an amazing consistency, creating wickedly modern twists on traditional genres without losing his sense of playfulness or individuality. In addition to his work as director, Carpenter has written the screenplays and composed the soundtrack music for almost all of his movies.

Born in New York state but largely educated in Kentucky, movie-lover Carpenter finished his studies at USC Film School where his collaboration with Nick Castle and James R. Rokos yielded the 1970 Oscar-winning short "Resurrection of Broncho Billy." While at USC, he also began work on his first feature, DARK STAR, with college friend Dan O’Bannon.


Friday, January 25 – 7:30 PM

Director John Carpenter & Actor Austin Stoker In-Person!! Double Feature:

ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, 1976, MGM/UA, 90 min. Dir. John Carpenter. This stark modern homage to Howard Hawk’s RIO BRAVO updates the action with a youth gang attacking a closing police station in a blighted ghetto neighborhood. Rapid-fire banter flies fast and furious between charismatic convict Darwin Joston and policewoman Laurie Zimmer as the faceless, virtually supernatural marauders attack. This remains one of Carpenter’s most effective pictures, an edge-of-your-seat thriller that put him on the map as an imaginative, creative force to be reckoned with. With Austin Stoker.

DARK STAR, 1974, 83 min. Carpenter’s first feature is a hilariously lo-fi space epic about a shaggy-dog crew of astronauts and surf-bums who find themselves stuck on a space-ship with an alien that resembles a walking beach ball and a thinking time bomb intent on blowing itself (and the ship) to smithereens. Written by Carpenter and future ALIEN scripter Dan O’Bannon, who also co-stars as "Pinback." Discussion between films with director John Carpenter.


Saturday, January 26 – 5:00 PM

Director John Carpenter In-Person!!

THE THING, 1982, Universal, 108 min. Carpenter re-imagined the 1951 sci-fi classic THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD as something darker, fiercer and altogether more disturbing, pitting sombrero-wearing helicopter pilot Kurt Russell and a crew of Arctic scientists against a ravenous, shape-shifting alien being. From the haunting opening shots of a sled dog fleeing across the snow, to the apocalyptic, fire-and-ice ending, this ranks with Ridley Scott’s ALIEN as one of the finest (and most beautifully crafted) sci-fi films of the past 20 years. Discussion following with director John Carpenter.


Saturday, January 26 – 8:00 PM

Director John Carpenter In-Person!! Double Feature:

HALLOWEEN, 1978, Joe Wolfe, 91 min. A landmark in modern horror – and one of the most phenomenally successful independent films ever made – Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN set the standard for dozens of oversexed teens-meet-serial killer movies to come, including SCREAM and SCARY MOVIE. Newcomer Jamie Lee Curtis (in her first major role) stars as the resilient Laurie, aware that evil stalks the shady streets and living rooms of her small town, in the form of escaped psychopath Michael Myers. Co-starring Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles and Nancy Loomis.

THE FOG, 1980, Avco Embassy, 91 min. Dir. John Carpenter. There’s atmosphere to burn in this spooky saga of bloodthirsty ghost pirates vengefully returning to decimate a sleepy-eyed California coastal town on the 100th anniversary of their shipwreck. Adrienne Barbeau is the spunky DJ sounding the alarm from her lighthouse-based radio station while the undead use the title mist as cover in their gory siege. With Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook, John Houseman. Director John Carpenter to introduce the screening.


Sunday, January 27 – 5:00 PM

Director John Carpenter In-Person!! Double Feature:

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, 1981, Avco Embassy, 99 min. Dir. John Carpenter. Kurt Russell delivers one of his most memorable performances as ornery, one-eyed Snake Plissken, a sentenced-to-die anti-hero sent into maximum security prison in a Manhattan of the future to rescue U.S. President Donald Pleasance from villain Isaac Hayes. A highly entertaining tall tale with influences ranging from comic books to apocalyptic science fiction to spaghetti westerns! With Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau.

BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, 1986, 20th Century Fox, 99 min. Dir. John Carpenter. Ultra-colorful adventure in the grand tradition of 1930’s serials, starring Kurt Russell as a cocky truck-driver who finds himself battling ancient Chinese warlords and hideous demons to save feisty Kim Cattrall ("Sex and the City"). A great guilty pleasure, and one of Carpenter’s most purely entertaining genre films. Discussion between films with director John Carpenter.


Wednesday, January 30 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

STARMAN, 1984, Columbia, 115 min. Dir. John Carpenter. Jeff Bridges delivers a wonderfully offbeat performance as an alien struggling to understand humanity while traveling cross-country with widow Karen Allen – who struggles with the fact that the alien has reincarnated itself in the form of her late husband!

IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, 1995, New Line Cinema, 95 min. Dir. John Carpenter. Hired investigator Sam Neill discovers reclusive horror writer Jurgen Prochnow (DAS BOOT) in a tiny New England town, but isn’t prepared for the terrifying reality warp that follows, in this wild, H.P. Lovecraft inspired romp through the demonic looking glass. With a terrific supporting cast that includes David Warner and Charlton Heston.


Thursday, January 31 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

THEY LIVE, 1988, Universal, 97 min. Dir. John Carpenter. Construction worker Roddy Piper learns that the world has been taken over by grinning skull-headed aliens who are permeating society with subliminal messages to mindlessly consume (sound like some corporations you know?). Glimpsing the truth with the aid of special sunglasses that strip away the phony layers of manufactured reality, he and fellow drifter Keith David join the underground to rebel against the mind control in this searingly satirical sci-fi jaunt, one of Carpenter’s best and wildest films. Co-starring Meg Foster.

GHOSTS OF MARS, 2001, Screen Gems, 98 min. Dir. John Carpenter. If you missed it on its recent release, here’s your chance to catch Carpenter’s high-octane blend of futuristic space thriller and FORT APACHE-style shoot-‘em-up. Natasha Henstridge (SPECIES) stars as a Martian policewoman assigned to deliver legendary criminal "Desolation" Williams (Ice Cube) to the lock-up – until they run into a long-dormant army of underground Martian maniacs.