I couldn’t have started the list without Halloween. Halloween has to be one of the best John Carpenter Movies and a personal favorite. It came out in 1978 under Compass International Pictures. It is the slasher movie that launched hundreds of imitators. Halloween walked so other slasher movies could run.
No matter how many similar movies are made, John Carpenter’s horror film about the masked killer Michael Myers will always remain in a class by itself. There’s no competition, that is not only a personal opinion but also something that masses stand behind.
2. Escape from New York
Escape from New York came out in 1981 under Embassy Pictures. The story revolves around Manhattan being used by the US government as a maximum-security prison where anything goes and nobody leaves.
The focus line of the story – relating to the plane of the U.S. President being shot down over the island and the President being taken as a hostage and how only the disgraced former Special Forces soldier Snake Plissken can rescue him from the hell-like streets of New York – made this movie one of the most popular action films of the early 1980s.
3. They Live
The name of the movie itself screams a kind of horror to me that isn’t exactly horror but the implications chill you to the bone. They Live came out in 1988 under Universal Pictures.
They Live revolves around stars pro wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as an unnamed drifter. He finds a pair of sunglasses that reveal that the media is filled with subliminal messages placed there by the rich and powerful, who are actually invading aliens. The movie features one of the greatest fight scenes in the history of cinema between Piper and Keith David.
The movie was way-ahead-of-its-time which can be the reason why it didn’t make much in the box office when it came out. But, ever since it seems to only increase in popularity considering how relatable it seems now with the theme about warnings of the role the media plays in manipulation.
4. The Thing
The Thing came out in 1982 under Universal Pictures. While many consider The Thing to be Carpenter’s best movie, I will still stick to Halloween.
The thing is a sci-fi horror film, which is a loose remake of 1951’s The Thing from Another World. It is masterfully directed and features countless scares which makes it one of John Carpenter’s favorite movie in a lot of people’s list.
The movie revolves around an alien that can take the appearance of its prey. Even the thought of that is scary. The said alien uses that ability to scare and eventually kill a group of researchers in an Antarctic base.
5. Assault on Precinct 13
Assault on Precinct 13 came out in 1976 under Turtle Releasing. This movie was not only directed but also written by John Carpenter – he also wrote the music and edited the film. It became one of the biggest independent film hits and cost just $100,000 to shoot.
This action-thriller revolves around a handful of cops defending a precinct building against a vengeful gang. Easter egg in this movies is that John Carpenter cameos as a gang member.