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The Cinema of John Carpenter: The Technique of Terror (Directors' Cuts) [Paperback]

By Ian Conrich (Editor) & David Woods (Editor)
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Item description for The Cinema of John Carpenter: The Technique of Terror (Directors' Cuts) by Ian Conrich & David Woods...

John Carpenter is a seminal figure in the history of horror and science fiction filmmaking. His work in these genres has been highly influential in their ongoing development. This book gives Carpenter's output the sustained critical treatment it deserves. It comprises essays that address the whole of Carpenter's work, as well as others which focus on a smaller number of key films. Some essays take on wide-ranging issues such as Carpenter's approach to remakes and the question of genre, while others are organized around a specific theme or technical aspect of Carpenter's film-making. The text's key strength is that it draws upon an international group of scholars offering a variety of expertise. Films discussed include Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978) and its subsequent sequels, Escape from New York (1981), Escape from L.A.(1996), The Fog (1980), The Thing (1982), Village of the Damned (1995) and Ghosts of Mars(2001). The book also features an exclusive interview with John Carpenter.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   219
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.02 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 29, 2004
Publisher   Wallflower Press
ISBN  1904764142  
ISBN13  9781904764144  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ian Conrich & David Woods

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ian Conrich is senior lecturer in Film Studies at University of Surrey, Roehampton and is coeditor of seven books, including the forthcoming "Horror Zone: The Cultural Experience of Contemporary Horror Cinema." He has written extensively on the horror genre, with his work appearing in "A Handbook to Gothic Literature", "The Modern Fantastic: The Films of David Cronenberg", "The Horror Film Reader", and "British Horror Cinema".
David Woods is senior lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Nottingham Trent University. He is the coeditor of "New Zealand--A Pastoral Paradise?" and he has contributed to "Translation, Theory and Latin America: Dimensions of the Third Term" and "The Background to Critical Theory: From Kant to Levi-Strauss."

Ian Conrich has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Essex.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Communications > Film Studies
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > Direction & Production
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Cinema of John Carpenter: The Technique of Terror (Directors' Cuts)?

"Trust is a hard thing to come by these days . . ."  Jan 9, 2007
. . . says MacReady in John Carpenter's The Thing. This is the exact opposite attitude of the military hero in Howard Hawks's original version, The Thing from Another World. In Carpenter's movies you can't trust the church, the government, the economic system, literature, the weather, or even your own children not to betray you.

I've been a Carpenter cultist since I first saw Halloween, so I was surprised at how much new there is in this collection of essays on Carpenter's films.

There are articles on Carpenter's music, his partnership with Kurt Russell, his early movies, his "siege movies" (Carpenter has admitted that many of his films are Howard Hawks's Rio Bravo dressed up with gangsters or Martians or a futuristic setting), Lovecraft's influence, and Carpenter's apparent attitudes toward men and women. There's also a short interview with Carpenter (interesting if you are just starting to read about his filmmaking, but it doesn't go too deep).

A few things in particular struck me. First (I alluded to this at the start of this review) is how unlike Howard Hawks's movies John Carpenter's films really are. Carpenter says he wishes he could work in the old Hollywood studio system the way his heroes like Hawks did.

Carpenter may admire Howard Hawks's work ethic and his ability to switch from genre to genre, but Carpenter's films tell a different story.

In a Howard Hawks movie the heroes are often the military or the government working together to protect Us from Them (The Thing from Another World). But in a John Carpenter movie the government IS the threat to the innocent (Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Starman, They Live) or at least it's incompetent leadership incapable of protecting us even when it's honestly trying (the sheriff in Halloween, the scientists in The Thing).

Another interesting thing is how much like David Cronenberg Carpenter is in one respect: the control he demands over every aspect of his films. Among the "new wave horror directors" (including George Romero, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, Joe Dante, and others) Carpenter is usually compared to directors like George Romero - - in other words the meat movie directors. But Carpenter uses suspense, not shock. (That's not a criticism of Romero - - his style is perfect for his story of the Decline and Fall of the American Empire.)

Carpenter is also like Hitchcock. He uses our unease to play us like a musical instrument, the way Hitchcock bragged of playing his audiences. (The current issue of Cineaste, vol. XXXII, no. 1, has a fascinating article by Jack Sullivan on Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann's music, especially for Psycho.)

That brings me to just a couple of complaints about this book. The only real flaw was the tendency of some authors to write in academic jargon. (I wish every critic with a Ph.D. could write as entertainingly as the authors in the Open Court Press series, Popular Culture and Philosophy.) A few essayists also keep referring to the same works by cultural/film critics such as Julia Kristeva and Robin Wood, more it seems to show they are masters of their field than because it adds to their arguments.

Also, I wish some of the essayists had mentioned the recently deceased Debra Hill, Carpenter's producing partner and writer of Halloween and The Fog. Debra Hill was born in the real Haddonfield and gave the world Michael Myers. Without Debra Hill there would have been no John Carpenter.

I debated whether to rate this book four or five stars, but besides presenting new ideas about Carpenter's movies, it was a lot of fun to read. If you like Carpenter's films, you'll enjoy this book.


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