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John Carpenter: The Prince of Darkness [Paperback]

Gilles Boulenger
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2007
John Carpenter, a quintessential horror movie director, is a true film auteur--a writer, director, composer, producer, editor, and actor--whose unique and inspired work has brought him the praise and admiration of both film critics and horror cultists. He is both the product of and an important participant in the American filmmaking tradition, and the intelligent, moody, and strange films with which his name is so quickly associated are sometimes simply Westerns in disguise. Essentially a lengthy, lively, and candid interview with Carpenter, this book covers his background, his inspirations, and his ups and downs in Hollywood and thoroughly discusses each of his films. Among the many and varied subjects that pop up are his Bible Belt childhood, German expressionism, Howard Hawks, John Wayne, The King, Barbra Streisand, Michael Myers, Kurt Russell, Stephen King, quantum physics, and attractive female extras. Among Carpenter's films are Dark Star, Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing, Christine, Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness, They Live, Village of the Damned, In the Mouth of Madness, and Escape From L.A. In addition to penning most of the screenplays for the films he has directed, he co-wrote The Eyes of Laura Mars.

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Most helpful customer reviews
In John Carpenter: The Prince of Darkness, French author and magazine publisher Gilles Boulenger conducts a lengthy (book-length, obviously!) interview with the man who has done more for the horror movie genre than any other director working today.
In the book, Carpenter touches on and discusses each of his films - from the student project Dark Star from 1970 to his most recent (at the time of this book) The Ghosts Of Mars - revealing his thoughts and memories on the inspiration, method, problems, filming, cast, box office, lessons learned from his successes and failures, and more.
We learn of such disparate topics as: his first initial directing efforts as a child; being inspired by German expressionism; the inspiration drawn from Howard Hawks movies and how many of Carpenter's films are simply westerns in disguise; his early obsession and present-day compulsion to make films; and even trying to write a movie for Barbara Streisand (sort of!);
It is a wonderful, in-depth look into the mind of a modern-day director. Particularly interesting is seeing, through Carpenter's own words, his growth in maturity as a director, both in his craft and, sadly, learning how the "studio system" really works--executives who don't know what they're doing making decisions that usually worked to the disadvantage of the film.
Through the book we read, fascinated, as Carpenter's career comes to resemble a roller coaster - we read as the director's films slowly rise in terms of success, accolades, and budget, culminating in a huge hit or peak - invariably followed by a huge failure, sending Carpenter plummeting back down the ride that is a career as a film director, resulting in him basically having to start over from scratch.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Primer Dec 6 2003
John Carpenter: Prince of Darkness is a great primer for all of Carpenter's fans. You will not learn much about the man's life, or the man himself for that matter. Even though this is an interview book, Carpenter reveals suprisingly little about himself. Some of his ideas and convictions are touched upon, but briefly.
This book is really like a short making-of for each of Carpenter's films, starting with his early childhood efforts to his latest Hollywood venture, Ghosts of Mars. In here, you will learn all about the troubles he had getting into the business and the way in which he persevered, until he made the one film that made him famous.
That film, Halloween, is discusses in great lengths in this book. And why not? This is probably Carpenter's most famous (and arguably best) film. But the fun doesn't stop there. You'll get great interviews about the Escape films, about The Thing, about Big Trouble in Little China, about Vampires, about They Live, Prince of Darkness, Christine, The Fog... Each and every film Carpenter has touched is discussed here.
I have to admit that I had a great deal of fun reading the chapter on my favourite film of his, In The Mouth of Madness. I loved reading all the little anecdotes and about all the problems he faced while doing these films. As a matter of fact, Carpenter opens up and tells all about the making of these films and keeps very little secret (except in the case of Ghost of Mars, where he turns suddenly very cold and evasive).
My only problem with this book is that it is too short. You never feel like you're getting the whole story. These short chapters (most of them barely 10 pages long, half of these pages comprised of pictures) never really get into the films themselves. The interviews sometime feel a bit shallow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Andrew
Featuring details from all his films, including the writing, the problems, the music and everything in between. This is an essential book for any John Carpenter fan! It also gives details of his childhood, Howard Hawks and other films that have inspired him, Growing up in Bowling Green and his time learning the trade he knows so well.
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