The first day of Winter is fast approaching, on Friday, December 21st, and what better day to bundle up and take in a screening of John Carpenter’s The Thing? After all, the 1982 film is easily *the* essential “Winter horror movie,” and Bottleneck Gallery wants to help you kick off Winter by enjoying The Thing up on the big screen, in glorious 35mm!
Bottleneck just announced, “We’re teaming up with our amazing friends over at Vice Press, The Roxy Cinema, and Universal Studios to bring a 35mm screening of the science fiction horror classic–The Thing–to life, along with an exclusive print by Matthew Peak!”
Here are the details for the event and the poster release:
The screening will be held at 7PM on Friday, December 21st, at The Roxy Hotel Theatre, located at 2 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY.
Matthew Peak’s print will also be sold at the theatre from 6PM – 7PM the day of the screening. You DO NOT need to have a screening ticket in order to buy the print, and they will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
All remaining prints will go on sale at a later date.
Matthew’s screen print will be revealed at the event. There will be two glow in the dark versions (Regular edition of 225 for $65/ Variant edition of 125 for $75)
If you live anywhere near NYC, this is an absolute MUST this holiday season.
When you think of body horror, David Cronenberg likely pops into mind. The director’s earlier horror films cornered the market on gruesome, psychologically twisted transformations and breakdowns of the human body, after all. But body horror existed long before, with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein an earlier example, and the sub-genre has thrived and evolved long since Cronenberg left horror. Horror is a genre that flourishes on fear of the unknown, and this sub-genre exploits that fear in the worst possible way.
Body horror is a reminder that sometimes death is better, as we watch in disgust while the victims are trapped inside their own bodies as it degenerates and mutates into something unfamiliar and unidentified. On a visceral level, it disturbs because it’s disturbing and gross to look at. On an emotional level, though, body horror instills a deeper level of fear because we tend to fear losing who we are as people. Seth Brundle’s slow mutation into the Brundle-fly monster in The Fly visually repulsed as his teeth fell out and he vomited digestive enzymes to eat, but his story evoked sympathy due to his desperation to cling to whatever humanity he had left. His transformation was consuming him body and soul.
Body horror as we now know it really began to emerge in the 1950s, with The Fly and The Blob. Both standouts of horror for its time, both a showcase of practical effects, and both would eventually get remade decades later. The most prominent entry in body horror in the ‘60s was, surprisingly, Rosemary’s Baby. Roman Polanski’s classic horror film explored the fears of motherhood, and poor Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) never truly had autonomy over her own body. Her own husband drugged her and offered her up to Satan, and the resulting pregnancy was controlled at every turn by the surrounding witches. Even when the Antichrist baby in her womb was making her very ill.
1977 propelled body horror forward in a major way with David Lynch’s Eraserhead, William Sachs’ The Incredible Melting Man, and Cronenberg’s Rabid. Cronenberg had already began his exploration of body horror with 1975’s Shivers, but Rabid broadened the scope of the horror as lead Marilyn Chambers’ Rose found herself patient zero for a zombie outbreak thanks to an experimental procedure that was thrust upon her post motorcycle crash. The Incredible Melting Man followed astronaut Steve West (Alex Rebar) slowly melting away upon his return to Earth following serious radiation exposure in space. Narratively, the film is rather dull, but it’s memorable for Rick Baker’s fantastic makeup effects work that makes West’s slow disintegration so gnarly. Lynch gave a surreal twist to body horror with Eraserhead, as Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) learns to care for and cope with a deformed child. It’s strange and dreamlike.
The golden age of practical effects in the ‘80s, meant body horror exploded. 1980 saw another entry in the surreal, with Ken Russell’s Altered States. Starring William Hurt in his debut role, he played Dr. Eddie Jessup, a professor seeking an alternate plane of existence by way of drugs and deprivation chambers. Jessup morphs and transforms with each experiment in the chambers. Two years later brought John Carpenter’s The Thing, a masterclass in paranoia and practical effects, as the Antarctic research team is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims. Cronenberg’s Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, and Dead Ringers firmly established the director as a defining voice in body horror. But there’s also one oft-overlooked voice that played an integral role in ‘80s body horror; H.P. Lovecraft.
Stuart Gordon’s love of Lovecraft delivered gooey, slimy, gory body horror in the form of Re-Animator and From Beyond. Re-Animator, loosely based on short story Herbert West-Reanimator, followed the exploits of Jeffrey Combs’ Herbert West as his reanimating agent leads to serious undead trouble. From Beyond sees Jeffrey Combs once again in the lead as Dr. Crawford Tillinghast, a survivor of Dr. Pretorius’ alternate reality experiments gone wrong. Pretorius’ machine opens the portal to an alternate world that leaves humans in extended close proximity forever morphed. Gordon’s producing partner Brian Yuzna would tackle gooey body horror of his own in 1989’s Society, though the body horror would remain subtle into the surreal final act infamously known as the “shunting.”
Clive Barker merged body horror with hell in 1987’s Hellraiser, as Frank Cotton’s reverse resurrection was the gory stuff of nightmares. Throw in sadomasochism and self-mutilation, and Hellraiser further broadened the scope of body horror. Japan was also experimenting with body horror in the late ‘80s, exploring government tests via animation in Akira and extreme metal meets man body horror in Tetsuo: The Iron Man.
If you thought the ‘90s were a wasteland of body horror, then seek out Braindead (Dead Alive) and Body Melt. The former takes a comical approach to the zombie outbreak and injects it with an insane amount of gore and body horror. The latter sees residents of a small town being used as test subjects for a drug that causes painful death by way of rapid decomposition. Both films take body horror to gag-worthy levels and it’s recommended that you skip out on eating while watching.
It wasn’t until the following decade, though, that body horror would return in a big way. Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever made you afraid of infection with the flesh-eating virus at the center of the film. James Gunn injected humor in body horror with Slither, its alien invasion leading to all forms of grotesque mutations. Then there’s The Human Centipede, a horror film that seeks to offend based on premise alone; a mad scientist seeks to create a human centipede by stitching his kidnapped victims together, rectum to mouth.
A new trend in body horror started to emerge; the coming of age horror story. Teeth, Ginger Snaps, Raw, and Blue My Mind all took the horrors of female puberty and twisted it further with strange body transformations. In Ginger Snaps, the onslaught of puberty was represented with Ginger’s oncoming infection of lycanthropy, while transitioning into womanhood meant transforming into a wholly different beast in Blue My Mind. Teeth and Raw interpreted sexual awakening with monstrous results.
Body horror overlaps and blends well with other sub-genres of horror, and offers more internal depth than just outward body transformations. It may have begun rooted in conscious fears of losing control of our own bodies as the characters on screen lost control of theirs via mutilation, transformation, or decomposition. Now it can reflect our medical fears, unwanted change, technological fears, and even fears of natural growth. This is only a tip of the iceberg, so be afraid. Be very afraid.
Cinematic rankings aren’t a perfect science, as they’re base of subjective criteria: Box office success, cultural impact, and (most often) personal opinion, as examples. Still, it’s always entertaining to read a Worst to Best list, as they make for enjoyable strolls down Memory Lane while sparking inevitably fierce debates.
A recent video ranking from our friends at WhatCulture is absolutely worth sharing. Not only does it feature The Masters of Horror, John Carpenter, it uses a concrete metric: Rotten Tomatoes. Yes, I know Rotten Tomatoes is hugely unreliable (especially when it comes to horror), but it’s an established measure that reflects a film’s cultural standing at a specific moment in time.
WhatCulture’s list works on a few levels: There’s the aforementioned nostalgia factor, but it’s also a handy checklist for newer Carpenter fans who, after the success of 2018’s Halloween, might be inspired to investigate the icons entire filmography. And, depending on your personal opinions, it might validate your stance on the accuracy of Rotten Tomatoes in general
One thing’s for certain: I was shocked by the Carpenter film that tops the ranking with a 98% Freshness Rating. And I think you’ll be surprised as well, especially when it comes to In the Mouth of Madness, The Thing, and the one that launched The Master towards super-stardom, 1978’s Halloween!
If you can’t stream (or simply don’t have the patience for a 15-minute retrospective), you can skip straight to the ranking. You should know, however, that the narrator is a stunning red-head with a hypnotic British accent. Totally worth it!
The films of John Carpenter Ranked from Worst to Best
Ghosts of Mars (2001): 21% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992): 23% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Village of the Damned (1995): 29% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
The Ward (2010): 33% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Vampires (1998): 38% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Escape from LA (1996): 52% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
In the Mouth of Madness (1994): 54% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Prince of Darkness (1987): 56% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Christine (1983): 69% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
The Fog (1980): 75% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Dark Star (1974): 79% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Starman (1984): 81%
Big Trouble in Little China (1986): 82% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
The Thing (1982): 83% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
The Live (1988): 85% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Escape from New York (1981): 86% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Halloween (1978): 95% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
Assault on Precinct 13 (1977): 98% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
What do you think of WhatCulture/Rotten Tomatoes’ definitive ranking of the films of John Carpenter? Which rankings surprised you most? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!
As the season of fear (and cheer) comes to a close, lets take a look back at some of the horror genres most beloved characters and their creepiest moments that spiced up Halloween for many years to come. Every entry was chosen because of the effectiveness of the makeup and/or practical effects of the scene. […]
As most are aware, John Carpenter’s The Thingand the film that preceded it, 1951’s The Thing from Another World, were both adaptations of the novella Who Goes There?, penned by John W. Campbell Jr. It was first published in the August 1938 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, and an expanded, never-before-seen version of the story has just been found!
Over on Kickstarter, a man by the name of John Betancourt has announced the discovery of a novel-length version of the classic novella, which was trimmed down for publication in Astounding Science Fiction way back in 1938. All these years later, the full version had remained undiscovered, but Betancourt is now fan-funding the release of the story in full.
It’s titled FROZEN HELL.
Betancourt explains, “In 1938, acclaimed science fiction author John W. Campbell published the novella Who Goes There?, about a team of scientists in Antarctica who discover and are terrorized by a monstrous, shape-shifting alien entity. The story would later be adapted into John Carpenter’s iconic movie The Thing (following an earlier film adaptation in 1951). The published novella was actually an abridged version of Campbell’s original story, called Frozen Hell, which had to be shortened for publication. The Frozen Hell manuscript remained unknown and unpublished for decades, and it was only recently rediscovered.”
“Frozen Hell expands the Thing story dramatically, giving vital backstory and context to an already incredible tale. We are pleased and honored to offer Frozen Hell to you now, as Campbell intended it. You will be among the first people to ever read this completed version of the story.”
You can snag a copy of the eBook with a $7 donation, with paperbacks beginning at $12. The good news? The fund has *already* surpassed its goal amount, so this is 100% happening!
There’s plenty of invention in the GTA community, and a common source of that is when creators dabble in recreating movie trailers within the game’s city of Lost Santos.
YouTube creator gigerbrick (David B Vann) has plenty of experience with this, but rather than recreate the latest blockbuster trailers, David makes GTA-based trailers for cult film and horror fare instead, and his latest creation sees him reanimate the Return of the Living Dead in an impressive trailer.
The trailer was made with the help of other community members using GTA Online footage edited together in an attempt to go beat-for-beat with an original trailer for 1985 zombie classic Return of the Living Dead. The players involved all customized their GTA Online characters to look like the cast of the film, and mods help fill in the blanks
The Tar Man makes an appearance thanks to a modded character skin, and Steven Ogg (The Walking Dead) sort of has a small cameo as GTA V‘s Trevor playing a cop.
In addition to this trailer recreation, gigerbrick has previously completed similar projects for The Thing, Death Race 2000, Cobra, and Death Wish 3.
From the pixelated blood-shed of Halloween to the dulcet synth tones of Sentinel Returns and cosmic horror of The Thing.
Whether it’s glowing-eyed wizards, multi-limbed alien monstrosities, masked serial killers solemnly stalking nubile babysitters, or sunglasses that reveal a new world order of skull-faced aliens and unfettered capitalism, the creations of auteur John Carpenter are some of the most influential sci-fi and horror visions of all time.
The likes of Halloween, Escape From New York, The Thing, They Live and Big Trouble in Little China have also shaped a myriad range of other media, including games on the Atari, PlayStation, and even the world of board games: nightmarish miniatures and all.
In terms of actual game credits, John Carpenter’s first game outing was in 1998’s puzzler Sentinel Returns, for which he composed the soundtrack with Gary McKill. It’s a sinister score titled Earth/Air and consists of swelling synths, ominous ringing, and urgent bass. Not too dissimilar to the soundtrack of The Thing.
Essentially each level sees you attempting to outrun an evil alien sentinel by indiscriminately absorbing trees and boulders, and ascending to a higher plane. Carpenter also directed some cut-scenes in horror game F.E.A.R 3, as well as working on the story.
Notably, one of video game’s foremost leading men, Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid Series, is based on John Carpenter’s anti-hero Snake Plissken, played by Kurt Russell in the film Escape from New York. Much like Kurt Russell’s character, Snake sports bouffant hair, an eye patch, and a gruff he-man attitude.
First up on the Carpenter games front, is the 2002 game sequel to the cosmic horror film The Thing, where John Carpenter voiced a cameo role. Computer Artwork’s The Thing landed on PlayStation 2, PC, and Xbox 20 years after the movie. A third person survival shooter, its clunky noughties graphics undermine the horror gravitas of the original. The game also relies on the use of guns, a definite no-no in the slow-burning, disquieting universe of The Thing.
However, The Thing game utilizes some aspects of fear similar to the film: your squad’s feelings affect their performance, and any one of them could be hosting a horrifying alien parasite.
The original film follows an ill-fated group of researchers isolated in Antarctica. They are stalked by a parasitic alien life-form that uncannily imitates other organisms. This rapidly sows distrust among the group, as they realize any one of them could be the eponymous Thing.
Part eye-searing body-horror (there’s gratuitous ripping, splaying and bloodied tentacles), part “trust no-one” paranoia fest, The Thing was released to predominantly negative reviews and poor box office ratings in 1982. Its sinister nihilistic underpinnings, down and dirty atmosphere and nightmarish creature effects were diametrically opposed to the optimistic message of that summer’s other alien blockbuster: E.T.
Considering The Thing was developed during an era of cold-war tensions, wherein the US seemed perpetually at threat of nuclear annihilation, it’s no wonder a film riding on themes of distrust and fatigued counter-culturalism was not well-received. However, like many of Carpenter’s films, it gained a cult following on home video and went on to have a marked influence on everything from Stranger Things to the films of Quentin Tarantino.
The Thing is referenced aplenty in the game world too. Culture vultures playing Resident Evil 4 would have spotted an alien, disguised as a dog, splitting its head open from the sides, not unlike the Thing itself. “What movie is this; Snow all around; a lonely outpost… and a creature attacking the staff,” a character says in one episode of Resident Evil: Revelations.
One of The Thing’s most curious incarnations is paper and pen game Who Goes There. A semi-cooperative game, one side plays the ill-fated research troupe; another the hostile alien life-forms. In addition, recently released survival horror Distrust sees you assuming control of 15 definitely doomed survivors in an Arctic base. Madness and unspeakable horror are of course, inevitable.
Next up is Carpenter classic Big Trouble in Little China, which sees a hard-boiled trucker played by Kurt Russell (a staple of the John Carpenter universe) and his rag-tag gang scouring through a magical labyrinth of sorcery, psychedelia and haunted wizards sporting laser eyes. The film got the game treatment in 1986 by developer Activision, operating under the label Electric Dreams Software. It was released to limited fan-fare on Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.
You play as the main characters Jack, Wang and Egg Shen, who are in hot pursuit of the villains that have stolen your lovely green-eyed gal. All move in hypnotic synchronicity as one through streets, sewers, and temples biffing and a-boffing through a repetitive onslaught of foes. The enemies are only vaguely indistinguishable from the heroes. The developer opted for the same character model, but inverted, to represent them.
The game also lacks the far-out wackiness of the film, such as main villain Lo Pan’s lair, where exploding men and floating eyeball monsters abound. Effectively a stuttering mess of relentless walking to the left, the Big Trouble in Little China game thankfully ends within about 20 minutes. Much in the vein of games from that time, it can be fiendishly difficult. Surprise arbitrary enemies that are nigh impossible to kill? Check. Lazy animations? Double check. All indicate that the title was a shameless cash-in on a popular B-movie.
Despite this clunky tie-in, Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China went on to influence one of the biggest fighting games of all time: the blood-soaked frenzy that is the Mortal Kombat series. One of the original seven playable characters in 1992’s original title, fighter Raiden’s design was based on one of The Three Storms – the deadly servants of the film’s Big Bad Lo Pan. As well as riding and controlling literal lightning, he also sported a conical hat much like Raiden.
Mortal Kombat boss Shang Tsung is also based on the aforementioned Chinese sorcerer Lo Pan, who is cursed with a decrepit form that can only be broken by marriage to a green-eyed girl. Shang Tsung too must devour souls to keep the darkness at bay.
There are some theories that Big Trouble in Little China also influenced the Street Fighter series. A gruesome troll-like beast sighted wandering underneath Little China in the film bears an uncanny resemblance to the game’s playable character Blanka.
As an alternative to the shoddy Atari game, retro ROM hackers Pacnsacdave created a Big Trouble in Little China SNES title. Apparently one of their most requested games, it hacks arcade classic Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja. A game that sees you playing two muscled up guys in wife-beater vests, who are tasked with rescuing the president from a pesky ninja kidnapping.
You punch, nunchuck and kick your way through hordes of enemies, including sexy ninja ladies who make a simpering noise when they are knocked over by one of your souped-up ultra manly punches. “I’M BAD!” roars your player character on achieving beat-em-up victory. The baseline mechanics of Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja are reskinned in full Big Trouble in Little China glory, complete with chunks of dialogue that the Electric Dreams title overlooked. This game captures the high-octane kung-fu action of the film infinitely better than the officially licensed title, despite being effectively fan-made.
One of Carpenter’s most successful films was slasher title Halloween, which went on to spawn a franchise of innumerable sequels. The original follows homicidal maniac Michael Myers, dubbed the epitome of evil by his ex-psychiatrist. Myer unleashes a killing rampage on a small town and its unfortunate babysitters.
Halloween was adapted into a game by the short-lived Wizard Video Games, a subsidiary of the infamous Wizard Video: consummate purveyors of gore and filth led by B-movie veteran Charles Band. It published the likes of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Driller Killer on VHS.
Wizard Video released an Atari 2600 game of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was billed as “the first violent video game”. Despite involving you playing as Leather Face himself wielding a chainsaw, the gore was undermined by the clunky graphics of the console. Although there’s plenty of bit-blood spraying and flailing victims to hack up with your chainsaw. In a mechanical detail usually missing from this sort of game, the iconic chainsaw requires fuel refills to run.
The company went on to make a Halloween game the next year, where you play a babysitter desperately trying to protect an unlimited horde of hapless kids in the wake of a crazed maniac on a killing spree. Michael Myers strides around wielding a big pointy knife, while kids flail, and the rooms you’re running about in become intermittently pitch black for extra spooks. If you’re lucky, you can pick up a knife to murder Myers.
The deaths are pretty fantastic. With one swift stab of a knife, Myers decapitates the babysitter and kiddies alike. They flail about helplessly while red pixel blots spurt from their bloodied stumps. Despite this level of violence being laughable in a post-Doom and Grand Theft Auto world, the Halloween game was deemed so twisted at the time of its release plenty of retailers just outright refused to sell it.
As such, this led to a strange sub-culture of nerds passing copies of the game among each other in secret, or requesting copies innocuously at local rental stores, complete with handwritten labels on the boxes.
Wizard Games, unfortunately, shut down not long after its Halloween release, and before it was able to create a games version of the brilliantly titled erotic adventure Flesh Gordon, based on a film of the same name.
It may still take some time for a good, solid reboot of any John Carpenter’s films in game-form, but for the time being, the auteur’s influence on gaming worlds fuelled by horror, madness, and isolation remains uncontested.
POPCORN FRIGHTS ANNOUNCES INAUGURAL WICKED WEEKEND OCTOBER EVENT
Master of Horror John Carpenter Will Be Celebrated at Inaugural Event
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Popcorn Frights is proud to announce its inaugural Wicked Weekend event celebrating the Master of Horror John Carpenter. From October 4-7, 2018, four of John Carpenter’s iconic genre films will be presented featuring special immersive theater performances and surprise giveaways.
Popcorn Frights Wicked Weekend will open with a newly restored 40th-anniversary presentation of Halloween on Thursday, October 4, and continue for the next three nights with special presentations of Christinefor its 35th-anniversary, a new restoration of The Thing, and They Live for its 30th-anniversary.
All screenings will take place exclusively at the historic Savor Cinema theater, a South Florida landmark that in the 1940s was a Methodist Church.
Wicked Weekend is a new annual event hosted by Popcorn Frights shining a spotlight on a legendary genre figure. This year marks the perfect occasion to honor John Carpenter, not only as he recently celebrated a 70th birthday, but because of the worldwide excitement surrounding the release of the new Halloween sequel which he is producing and composing new original music for.
Obey. Consume. Carpenter.
WICKED WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Thursday, October 4
40th anniversary presentation of HALLOWEEN
Friday, October 5
35th anniversary presentation of CHRISTINE
Saturday, October 6 New restoration of THE THING
Sunday, October 7
30th anniversary presentation of THEY LIVE
All-Access Badges are on sale for a limited time for $34 per person, and single screening tickets are available for $10. To purchase badges or tickets and view the Festival schedule, visit www.popcornfrights.com
All films will screen at Savor Cinema (503 SE 6th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301).
Popcorn Frights has been named “One of the Best Film Festival’s in Florida” by The Sun-Sentinel and is the largest genre film festival in Southeast United States. Popcorn Frights special focus on discovering new talent and recognizing established filmmakers has made it a natural gateway for the best in genre films from around the world.