Capone talks to legendary director-writer-producer-composer John Carpenter about THE THING--celebrating its 30th Anniversary--and his appearance in Chicago this weekend!!!
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
As I mentioned last week, Chicago longest-running and finest horror and sci-fi convention, Flashback Weekend, is happening this weekend in Rosemont (near O'Hare Airport). For all the details (and there are many), take a look at the Flashback Weekend website. But I did want to call your attention to a few highlights, including the first-ever appearance of writer-director-producer-composer John Carpenter, who will be introducing a 30th anniversary print of THE THING on Friday night. I don't see how any right-thinking film lover could pass up an opportunity like that. More on Mr. Carpenter in a minute…
Flashback Weekend will also feature appearances by Linda Blair, who will be hosting a 4K digital screening of THE EXORCIST on Saturday night; Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, who will be hosting the world premiere (complete with red carpet) of H.P. LOVECRAFTS THE EVIL CLERGYMAN, along with director Charles Band and composer Richard Band; Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD; FROM BEYOND); Tony Todd (CANDYMAN; the FINAL DESTINATION movies; HATCHET I & II); Dick Warlock (John Carpenter's frequent stunt coordinator and Kurt Russell's frequent stunt double); Tyler Mane (Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 1 & 2); Scout Taylor-Compton, Kristina Klebe & Danielle Harris (the babysitters of Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 1 & 2); Meg Foster (THEY LIVE); and Kim Darby (the original DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK and TRUE GRIT).
The line-up will also include a whole bunch of actors who have played Jason Voorhees in various FRIDAY THE 13th movies (including the great Kane Hodder), and actresses who have been in many of those films as well (see the website for the complete list).
In addition to THE THING, THE EXORCIST, and THE EVIL CLERGYMAN screening, the nearby Muvico Theater will be hosting screenings of AMONG FRIENDS, directed by Danielle Harris; THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHOS POND, starring Danielle Harris and written & directed by Sean Clark; NAILBITER, directed by Patrick Rea; and a few more shorts and features. Again, check the site for the full schedule and details about introductions, parties, etc. I'll be co-hosting, as always, so please come and say hi between the endless Q&A happening on Saturday or at the screenings.
Now back to John Carpenter. It goes without saying that for many of us, Carpenter is a hero, a guiding force in genre filmmaking from DARK STAR, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 and HALLOWEEN to THE THING, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and THE FOG to BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, THEY LIVE, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, and the list goes on.
Now to provide a little context, last year Quint did a more comprehensive interview with Carpenter (THAT YOU MUST READ NOW) as part of an AICN Legends column. So as not to cover the same ground, most of my interview focused on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of THE THING as well as some broader spectrum question about his career, history, and reason for doing horror and sci-fi films. We only had about 25 minutes, but I think I got some choice responses from him, even a few that went longer than just a sentence or two (something he's kind of known for). But I had a tremendous time chatting with Carpenter and can't wait to meet him this weekend. And for those of you thinking about coming to Flashback Weekend, Carpenter's Q&A is scheduled to happen at 2:00pm on Saturday and run for about 40 minutes. The whole weekend should be great fun; hope to see you there. Now, please enjoy my talk with the great John Carpenter…
John Carpenter: Hello.
Capone: Hi, John.
JC: Hi there, Steve. How are you?
Capone: Good. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Chicago for the convention. Have you ever spent any time here before?
JC: I’ve been in Chicago when I was a child, but that was a long time ago.
Capone: I’d like to focus on THE THING, since that’s one of the reasons you are coming here, for the anniversary screening.
JC: Is that one of the reasons I’m coming?
Capone: That is one of the reasons, believe it or not.
JC: Thank you for telling me. [laughs]
Capone: They have a nice new digital print of it to play on the first night of the convention. But before I dive into that, I just heard yesterday that THEY LIVE is finally coming out on Blu-ray in November?
Capone: Have you done anything new for that release?
JC: Yeah, I did a little on-camera stuff, but it’s not very extensive. I think everybody did something.
Capone: All of the people in the film?
JC: I think so. I’m not really sure, but yeah.
Capone: Okay, but we actually can say there is new material on the Blu-ray.
JC: Yeah, there’s new stuff. It’s no fucking good, but it’s new.
Capone: At the end of the day, maybe there’s no difference. Did they do anything in terms of restoring it at all?
JC: Dude, you’re asking me a question I have no answer for. So it’s high def now, okay. I don’t know what else they have done.
Capone: I just took a shot in the dark that you might know.
JC: Hey, that’s okay. You would think the director might know, but no. [Laughs]
Capone: I have a feeling a lot of my questions are going to be shots in the dark here.
JC: Hey, go ahead. No problem.
Capone: Whenever I talk to George Romero, I always love digging into the social messages of his films. I don’t think he would make a film unless he could insert a message or two about what was pissing him off at the time. When you were making some of your earlier work, did you attempt to pepper into your films an expression of what you saw as society’s ills or other things that were on your mind?
JC: Not quite as much as George. He really worked that. I was a little bit less than that. I mean, THEY LIVE is an obvious example of something that I considered society’s ill. I was angry about the Reagan Revolution, so it was a scream in the dark, but not so much some of the early ones. They were pretty much straight-forward, take the drama as it is, take the story as it is.
Capone: I always wondered about the end of THE THING, having one black character and one white character be the surviving people, if that was some sort of small statement on your part about “This is what it all comes down to. We either have to live with each other or we're going to just eat each other alive basically, literally.”
JC: That’s inherent in the story, but more than that it’s a story about trust, people losing trust and faith in each other, which seemed to be pretty much evident at the time in the world and in our society, which is losing faith. But that was about as broad as it got. It was about that and a monster from out of space too. [Laughs]
Capone: That’s true. Let’s not forget that. For some people, that level of faith and trust is asking a lot, to trust basically a stranger or someone who is different from you.
JC: There you go. You know, the era I grew up in--I was born in the later '40s, but in the '50s before the '60s came along and sort of tore us all apart,--it was a homogeneous population, pretty much all the same. There was a lot more trust then. There was a lot of fear and a lot of anxieties, but there was a lot of trust in the military, there was a lot of trust in institutions. Not so much when I was making THE THING.
Capone: Probably not, no not in the early '80s. Speaking of that, as a kid, were there significant types of films that you were drawn to?
JC: Well all movies pretty much. I loved science-fiction and horror films, but I loved westerns too. I was really drawn to them.
Capone: What did you like about them?
JC: It was the American Myth and the heroics. All of it. It was just our mythology, which was overtaken by the STAR WARS mythology, and that was the end of the westerns. And the Italians killed them off, but beautifully. Those were some beautiful death throes
Capone: That’s true. Did you at some point decide that horror and sci-fi was going to be your specialty? Or did the studios you were working for decide for you?
JC: It found me. You get associated with a kind of movie that you are successful at first, and that was the first one. I had made a thriller, ASSAULT ON PRECINT 13, I had made a really low budget sci-fi movie [DARK STAR], but nobody took that seriously. But this genre made some bucks, and that’s what they cared about. That’s all they care about, except for honors, like if you get Meryl Streep in a movie.
Capone: Once you realized those were the kind of films you were going to be making, did you set your sights on “What am I going to do that’s going to be different than what everybody else is doing right now?”
Capone: How did you accomplish that?
JC: “What kind of stories can I tell that are just slightly different? What direction can I take this rather broad genre?” I mean it could be almost anything, and “How can I make something out of this?” My essential goal was to be a professional movie director. That’s what I wanted to do since I was about eight years old, and I got to realize that. So here I am in this category, which is fine with me, that’s okay. "Let me make the best of this. Let me do some stuff that’s different.”
Capone: Yeah. As broad a genre as it is, it was also a pretty crowded landscape at the time in terms of horror and science fiction. Special effects were making more people interested and coming into that genre, because they had new toys to play with. Were things you wanted to do to not just distinguish yourself, but really stand out?
JC: Well not in that sense, not in a special effects sense, but in a dramatic sense. THE THING is a perfect example. I got to work with all of these really good actors, which was terrific. A lot of science fiction and horror movies doesn’t have that kind of caliber of performers. Some of them do. That was quite a summer we had there in 1982. There were a lot of good movies that summer.
Capone: The Alamo Drafthouse down in Austin is dedicating a series of screenings to that fact.
JC: I know all about it, yeah.
Capone: I think they're playing THE THING or maybe they’ve already played it, as part of that celebration. I have such a vivid memory of seeing THE THING when I was probably about 14. But it was the first movie that made me really want to know how some of those practical effects were done, which led to me running into Rob Bottin’s name for the first time. How did you find him work with him on that film?
JC: Rob was an assistant to Rick Baker for a few years and he started showing up…I think he showed up on THE FOG. He played the main ghost at the end there. He was all in black yielding a sword. He was just a real gung-ho kid. So THE THING comes along, and he comes with his idea and said “Listen, The Thing could look like anything. It doesn’t have to look like one thing. This is just a great opportunity to show our stuff,” and he sold me on it.” The idea being that The Thing has been traveling through space and whatever visiting different worlds and imitating various life forms on those worlds. So he could pull any of them right out of his bag of tricks, and who knows what the original form looks like? Some of the studio folks really obsessed with that. They wanted to know what it initially looked like, which didn’t matter to me.
Capone: Was that freeing in a way, not to have to just design a single creature that you kept coming back to?
JC: It was a challenge and it was freeing, but it was a challenge too. If you think about it, it’s unlike a lot of monster movies where they get up and they start attacking you. [Laughs] This thing hides until you find it, so it’s in camouflage all of the time, then it suddenly attacks back.
Capone: You mentioned you had this incredible cast that a lot of films of this genre didn’t have. Did it feel at the time like this was a turning-point film for you, in terms of the caliber of the actors, the bigger budget?
JC: It was an opportunity. This was a chance to work with Universal on a bigger film with all of the accouterments that working for a studio provides you; it’s really nice. In those days, it was really nice. They had a real studio there. They had different studio departments to do different things. They had [legendary matte painter] Albert Whitlock there, although I must tell you the truth is he never painted a thing for my movie, his assistants did it. The old piece of crap. I think he thought he was above our movie, yeah I think so. He was an arrogant little British guy, and I complemented him on some shot--I think it was the guys walking to the saucer or something--and he says, “I didn’t put paint to brush.”
Capone: And he’s proud of that.
JC: “You didn’t? You piece of trash. I can’t believe it.” He’s done some great stuff, but he was such a disagreeable little man. You had to visit with him and have tea with him. Oh man!
Capone: The other reason the production was different for you is that you didn’t do the score. You had Ennio Morricone do the score, which I guess that’s just something you can’t pass up if you have that opportunity.
JC: It started first that nobody wanted me to do the score. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I get to choose this.” It was assumed that somebody else would be hired, and Morricone’s name came up. He was just brilliant, a brilliant composer.
Capone: Did you get musician’s envy listening to what he did?
JC: His orchestral stuff was really different than my stuff, and it’s the essence of the movie. Everybody thinks of that opening, real simple, but his orchestral stuff was just beautiful and sad, which made the movie what it is. It made the movie this hopeless situation.
Capone: It is a rather bleak ending.
JC: [Laughs] Oh my god, yes.
Capone: Can you set the record straight about this supposed different ending that you may or may not have shot for safety?
JC: Okay, no. I took a shot. I didn’t shoot an ending. I did a shot of Kurt sitting in the warmth someplace, and we can assume it’s McMurdo Sound, maybe he's been saved. I don’t know why I did it. Maybe it was massive insecurity, because I realized by the point we got there that “Boy this was a dark movie. Lord, this is dark.” I ended up not using it; I just figured, “You’ve got to go with this. We’ve got to just go and be true to our school here.” The studio, of course, after they read the script and after we had been shooting, suddenly realized “Oh, it’s this kind of ending, we don’t like that.” “Well, why are you waiting until now? You want to figure out something else?” So they said “Well why don’t you just have Kurt Russell blow up the Blair monster, just kill him, and then have him come out in the cold at the end and don’t have the scene with Childs, just drop that and see if it plays better to the audience.” It made no difference.
Capone: Yeah, that’s still pretty bleak, yeah.
JC: Right, it's still hopeless. [Universal Chief Sidney] Sheinberg said, “Can you imagine THE THING with this triumphant orchestra playing as he kills it?” “No, no, no, not really.” But they wanted a more JAWS type thing.
Capone: As part of Flashback Weekend, your old friend Dick Warlock is going to be here as well. Tell me about hooking up with him and a little about your working relationship.
JC: Dick was Kurt’s stunt double and had been for years, so he came along with Kurt. I can’t remember at what point or with what movie where I first worked with him. I think it was ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. And he’s just such a nice guy, so I just began to use him more and more and not only as Kurt’s double. He played Michael Myers in the second HALLOWEEN and various things. He set himself on fire, and did all sorts of great stuff.
Capone: He seems like the kind of guy who you would have just a bunch of incredible stories about. Do you have one great one you can share?
JC: Dick Warlock was the straightest, kindest guy you would ever want to meet. He’s not an outrageous guy at all. He was doing a stunt in THE THING where he was playing Palmer and had to jump up to the ceiling. So we did it in reverse, and he was hanging from the ceiling, and he fell. We used gravity to do our stunt. And he was unhappy about by the fourth take. “Man, I don’t want to do this anymore,” and so we didn’t.
Capone: I read a quote of yours where someone asked you if there was a particular film that was a struggle for you to get made, and you said, “All of them were a struggle to get made.” Was there any film that actually was not that much of a struggle to get made? Is the end result any different depending on how much you had to really struggle to get something done?
JC: No, that had nothing to do with it. It’s just a lot of pain, and then it comes out. The triumph for me is that you get your movie done and it’s pretty much the way you envisioned it, and everything else there’s nothing you can do about, whether people like it or they don’t like it or it makes money or it doesn’t make money. But if you can get a movie out in the theaters or TV or on DVD or wherever it’s going to go, that looks and sound pretty much like you had envisioned it, that’s the triumph. See my low expectations? [Laughs]
Capone: With THE THING, was it particularly painful when the critics didn’t respond to the movie? Obviously the regard it is held in today is not what it once was you. I realize prestige doesn’t pay the bills, but was it particularly painful on that film that people didn’t respond?
JC: It was kind of painful. It was not the critics so much; it was the fans. They hated it. It’s just the science-fiction and horror fans hated it.
Capone: That’s so strange.
JC: They hated it. There was a famous magazine back in the old days, Cinefantastique. There was a cover “Is this the most hated movie ever made?” There you go. I guess it was. I think they thought I had raped the Madonna. That’s what I think they had believed. I had transgressed some line, some unspeakable line. I’m serious that’s what it felt like.
Capone: But by taking on this particular project as a remake?
JC: I have no idea. That’s the only thing I can come up with that I had gone too far, I had taken this little gem of a movie, which it is. The original THING is one of my favorite movies. I love that movie. And crapped on it, apparently. They couldn’t take it.
Capone: The prequel to THE THING came out fairly recently. Did you see it? What did you think?
JC: I have seen it, yes.
Capone: Do these remakes feel like some sort of weird violation?
JC: I don’t want to comment too heavily, except I thought that, “Show me your teeth,” [Laughs] that was kind of a silly [If I remember correctly, whether or not people had fillings was a sign they were an alien or not]. When it happened, the first time it happened, I thought “You’ve got to be kidding. Really? Really?” I don’t understand parts of the prequel. I don’t understand the girl falls apparently from this enormous height at the very end, and then at a cut or two she just gets up off the floor. How the hell does she survive that? This thought came through my mind, this one word—“Reshoots.” I don’t know if that was part of it, but that made no sense. Where did she fall to? I don’t get it. It was confusing to me.
Capone: I know somebody that visited that set, and they said that every single effect they saw that was practical was all replaced in the final version by CG effects.
JC: My goodness.
Capone: I can only imagine what it would have looked like the other way, but I guess Universal just didn’t have faith in how it looked.
JC: It’s more complicated than that. The practical effects that we did, they're all rubber effects. It can’t do much; it’s just a hunk of rubber sitting there moving around a little bit, right? But if you have it trying to do too much, it’s going to look bad, and you just can’t do it. You have to design what it does to its limitations, and then it will be great. If you notice a lot of the movies that are special effects makeup movies that are memorable, they have to do with transformation, going form A to B--a werewolf comes out or something like that. That’s where it really works, so it’s all-transformational. It’s not going to run around the room very well.
Capone: Although you had a couple of shots where things are running around.
JC: Well yeah, a little bit.
Capone: You did a great job of making it seem like you didn’t have limitations with your effects.
JC: Oh my gosh, you have no idea. But thanks for saying so.
Capone: John, I look forward to meeting you in a couple of weeks and thanks for taking the time to talk.
JC: All right, man. Thank you.
-- Steve Prokopy
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Aug. 6, 2012, 1:23 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:23 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:40 p.m. CST
Ha! Got to love Carpenter's honesty. Man don't give a fuck.
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:41 p.m. CST
Still holds up to this day. I rewatch it at least once a year. Great movie.
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:43 p.m. CST
by No Respectable Gentleman
THE THING was on the cover, sure, but as far as I remember the whole tone was adulatory. I don't remember science fiction fans hating the movie either. There was a lot of love for the flick ... just not at the box office.
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:45 p.m. CST
by The PimpDragon
It is rather peerless. The only film I've ever thought was better or at least equal to is the original Alien. Both films have great characters who seem like real people. They take the "haunted house" idea and make it work (in a freighter in deep space, you can't simply escape; in the middle of Antarctica you can't simply escape). They create a complete world within the frames of the camera and are very good at establishing the claustrophobia and horror of the situation and making it very relatable as a viewer. Plus, they each have standard-setting chest-related setpieces that still have the power to make you squirm! The Thing is truly an awesome film and, arguably, Carpenter's best overall work. Nice interview, Capone!
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:46 p.m. CST
by Bouncy X
had no clue the jump to the ceiling was a reverse shot. it does explain how perfectly he lands on the ceiling though but it never crossed my mind thats how it was done. just figured it was a nice and perfect take. lol
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:50 p.m. CST
. Best horror/sci fi - The Thing. Best ending ever - Escape from NY Best Horror - Halloween Aweseome moment - christine rebuilding herself Best crazy-ass movie ever - Big Trouble in Little China. Best alley-fight-over-glasses - They Live. Im sooooo bummed i wont be able to make it to the convention this weekend. Capone and/or someone who is going...do me a favor...google 'fan created alternate They Live dvd cover' and show it to Carpenter this weekend...its genius...i think they should have marketed the blu with a free pair of sunglasses that, when worn, would change the cover art to the alt-fan-art. John Carpenter is an amazing director. One of my favorites (actually he IS my favorite). Thanks for sharing the interview. Peace .n. Im all out of bubblegum 3ToF.
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:50 p.m. CST
Not so much generic studio stories that we've all heard a million times by a thousand different directors. Then again, maybe he has talked at length about the ending and I just missed it, and I'm the typical asshole AICN TBer. I guess I'd like an interviewer one day to play that youtube guy's interpretation of all the events and let JC comment on each 'event' one at a time. That bit about the matte painting guy was intriguing though. I remember JC talking about it quite a bit during the DVDs commentary.
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:52 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:52 p.m. CST
freaking genius http://www.horroryearbook.com/5427003/they-live-collectors-edition
Aug. 6, 2012, 1:58 p.m. CST
I've only actually seen him in High Anxiety, but he didn't look like a little arrogant British guy.
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:10 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:13 p.m. CST
by Raptor Jesus
Christ, it was just unwatchable.
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:16 p.m. CST
That popped up months ago about Keith David's character being infected. An interesting little theory that was shot down by Carpenter himself on twitter.
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:17 p.m. CST
Really enjoyed it. Great movie. Don't think I ever heard anyone shit on it.
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:21 p.m. CST
I think it had to do with comparing Mac dumping his scotch into the computer ("cheating bitch") when it beat him at chess, and when he offers Child's the scotch at the end. And in the script, it's written that Mac has a flamethrower ready to to go under his jacket. Something to that effect. I'll see if I can dig up the youtube vid.
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:24 p.m. CST
by Mr. Giant
Sound like the fans who go apeshit today over "torture porn." It's like if you hit that nerve, people can't take it. Do it well or do it poorly, and you'll get shit on for it.
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:27 p.m. CST
The real ending stuff starts at about 2:55. http://youtu.be/bgRWMbGSUec
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:39 p.m. CST
I've met him a few times, and he is one of the most honest people in the business. I personally think that The Thing is his best film, followed by They Live, and Big Trouble in Little China.
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:42 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 2:58 p.m. CST
That said, I'm shocked about any negative reactions to The Thing as it was and still is one of my all time Horror films as EFNY is my personal favorite Sci Fi flick. They live was the more interesting anti Reagan sentiment i have seen in a Movie and props to carp for having the courage of conviction for making his sentiment toward the Administration so obvious. And as Asi once pointed out, EFLA's President (Played so well courtesy of Cliff Robertson) was a amusingyet unitentional Parody of Bush even before he became the President of the United States. Despite never reaching the acclaim that his old protogege Cameron has, Carpenter is still Legendary and willing to take chances with a few genres. from Elvis to Big Trouble in Little China his previous works shall never be forgotten. Thanks John, now if you can only do one more sequel to Escape but this time, don't self lampoon like you did with EFLA.
Aug. 6, 2012, 3:02 p.m. CST
From 'Precinct 13' up to 'They Live' this guy made some of my favourite movies of all time ... Beyond that ... Some of my least favourite.
Aug. 6, 2012, 3:31 p.m. CST
For me, when he started doing generic "hard rock" soundtracks, as opposed to creepy electronic ones is when the quality started to wane. Compare and contrast the themes for EFNY and EFLA for proof. However, the exception to the rule is "In the Mouth of Madness" which is greatest Lovecraft adaption that has nothing to do with Lovecraft...
Aug. 6, 2012, 3:35 p.m. CST
by Samuel Fulmer
Because I sort of think the same with Argento. Even though Opera had it moments, it was sort of the end of his film making powers, and it had that silly death metal music in it.
Aug. 6, 2012, 3:40 p.m. CST
To this day, I'll never understand why JC's awesome The Thing didn't do bigger box-office at the time. Everyone went bananas for the friendly alien ET around that time, however.
Aug. 6, 2012, 3:42 p.m. CST
by Samuel Fulmer
You brought the A game this time.
Aug. 6, 2012, 4 p.m. CST
What nis a perfect mopvie for me? One in wish i can't imagine any way it could make it better. If that is not a definition of perfection, then i don't know what is. THE THING is a movie i love to revisit from time to time. sometimes i also listen to the audio comentary by Carpenter and Kurt Russell It is one of the best and funniest comentary tracks i ever heard in my life on a DVD. Also very informative of the making of the movie and also of their friendship. THE THING, what a winner of a movie. I first saw it in the late 80s on VHS, and i was hooked right from the opening credits. The rest was all pure movie magic. Pure movie magic is a good way to describe this movie. To the end of my days i'll never understand why the movie got such a shellacking back when it was released. Maybe it was because those were the Reagan Years, when everybody was crazy. Only mass madness can explain why this fine movie was not a massive commercial sucess . In a perfect and just universe, this movie (and BLADE RUNNER) would had ET for breakfast. But we don't live in a just universe, alas. It's great to know that time has been kind to THE THING, however, and that it's now heralded as the great classic that it truly is. Yeah, i love, love THE THING, unashamedly so, as it should. And if anybody hates this movie, sucks to be you.
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:08 p.m. CST
Hi mate. Thanks for the reference and remembering something i wrote so long ago. Props and kudos. I'm flatered. Carpenter is a legend, pure ans simple. If he never makes another movie ever gain, it will not be a problem. He already gave us many cinematic jewels, more then most filmmakers can boast. a list of his movie's career is like a listing of classics. DARK STAR, ASSAULT ON PRECINT 13, HALLOWEEN, THE FOG, THE THING, CHRISTINE, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, THEY LIVE, PRINCE OF DARKNESS. most filmmakers out there would love to boast ONE such movie in their CVs, Carpenter have them all. The man owns nobody nothing anymore, as far i'm concerned. He has payed his dues a long time ago, i can't demand nothing from him. And his latest movie, THE WARD, was pretty nice and quite entertaining too. I quite enjoyed it. It was like a version of SUCKER PUNCH but made by somebody with an actual functioning brain. It laso had quite an interesting female cast. You can't go wrong with Amber Heard and Lyndsey Fonseca (the later is of portuguese descendency), can you?
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:15 p.m. CST
I recall seeing a rare complete soundtrack cd on E-bay a few years ago, but lost the bid. It had heaps of additional tracks on it compare to the existing soundtrack. Sure wish it was made available.
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:20 p.m. CST
Normally when I mention my theory people either look at me with incredulity or laugh, however I think it's pretty valid. I've got nothing against metal in it's many forms, but if it appears on a horror soundtrack and is irrelevant to plot (which is where "Big Trouble..." gets a free pass given it makes sense with Jack being a trucker), to me it just screams "marketing ploy!", and cheapens the art of the movie.
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:24 p.m. CST
. its an interesting interpretation. For me the ending is just one of the zillion things about the movie that make it awesome. I LOVE the fact that he doesnt tell us if either of them are infected. I love the open ending. Its a ballsy move to not provide a nice clean resolution at the end of a flick...one that probably pisses off countless viewers...but one that leads more to the movie going experience and discussion/interpretation of movies. Christopher Nolan did this nicely with (spoilers) Inception with the spinning top ambiguous ending. I firmly believe that he would have ended Dark Knight Rises (SPOILERS!) on the shot of alfred looking at the camera...which would have left batmans survival open for interpretation, however it was too mainstream of a movie to leave any ambiguity.
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:38 p.m. CST
after sitting through TDKR's on sat, my back was killing me, as usual. so my cure, triple feature of carpenter & russell commentary special. escapeNY, big trouble, & topping it off with the thing. those two sitting & shooting the shit just absolutely makes you feel like you're sitting in the room with them. you can tell they are TRUE friends & colleagues. sooo entertaining! (I listen to EVERY commentary track on every flic I watch). I've listened to these 3 commentaries many times, they NEVER get old. for those of you that don't take the time for commentaries, I highly suggest these. cheers Capone! p.s mr. carpenter, please stop smoking, we need you around for many more years!
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:48 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:49 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:50 p.m. CST
by david starling
In fact its stupidly criminal. Forget some of those other directors out there full of pomposity about their movies, John Carpenter made genre flicks for his audience, and he knew who his audience was. No pretention, no sellout, you knew what you were getting - and yet, even then he surprized you. Yes, he may have floundered in recent years (I will make exceptions for Vampires, but Ghosts of Mars was shambolic - haven't seen The Ward yet though) but dammit, when you have as many classics sitting there as he has, I think you're allowed one or two bad movies!! I'd love to see a special Blu-Ray of Prince of Darkness (I love that movie!!), but I'm equally thrilled in the knowledge that They Live is coming out soon in a special edition!!
Aug. 6, 2012, 4:53 p.m. CST
Somebody needs to ask him that at the Q&A. He always talks about how they were one of his favorite genres. And while they were definitely on the way out when he started directing, they've never gone away completely. They were still making Westerns in the 80's and 90's, when Carpenter was still somewhat bankable. Obviously his friend and colleague Kurt Russell made one of the more memorable ones of that era with TOMBSTONE. Did Carpenter ever TRY to get a Western together? Every few years someone tries to bring them back.
Aug. 6, 2012, 5:40 p.m. CST
That story has been told, but for those who don't know it, goes like this... The original director of Tombstone dropped out for whatever reason and Kurt Russell stepped in as the standby director to keep the film alive so the studio wouldn't pull the plug. The rest of the cast supported Kurt and they kept the movie alive and in production. Kurt personally asked John Carpenter to come in and finish the movie and John almost said yes. It's not clear what ultimately led to Carpenter passing on the deal, but they brought in George Cosmatos instead. All turned out well in the end.
Aug. 6, 2012, 6:02 p.m. CST
The original writer/director of Tombstone was the late Kevin Jarre (writer of The Mummy, Rambo II, Glory, etc...) He was apparently fired from the film by the studio. One crew member wrote the following message on Jarre's IMDB board... 'And I can add conclusively that Kurt Russell did NOT direct a single shot on Tombstone. I worked on the set from mid-may until production finished on Sept. 2nd of 1993. I am shocked that Russell has put this rumor out there and I can assure you he could not back up the claim from anyone who worked in production. Jarre was fired because he failed to give the editors usable footage. He was essentially attempting to shoot it 'low angle' with a lot of wide shots, like John Ford. He had us running all over the desert reshooting scenes that he'd neglected to pick up when he had ample chance to do so. The 2-3 weeks he worked on the film were the most physically and mentally difficult period of my entire life.' We may never know if this is true or what really happened, but if Kevin Jarre, Kurt Russell and George P. Cosmatos all contributed to what is now the finished product called TOMBSTONE... then I guess they did a good job because it's a pretty good flick. It was a great script and that credit goes to Kevin Jarre. I'm sure Carpenter would have done a fine job as well, but that's the story anyway.
Aug. 6, 2012, 6:24 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 6:24 p.m. CST
Aug. 6, 2012, 6:51 p.m. CST
that MacReady's Hat would be a great name for a band.
Aug. 6, 2012, 6:55 p.m. CST
And whoever said They Live sucks. Die.
Aug. 6, 2012, 6:57 p.m. CST
Your enthusiastic post made me Lol and I wholeheartingly agree.
Aug. 6, 2012, 6:58 p.m. CST
If you are using the remake/prequel to answer questions about JC's The Thing.... go ahead and hang your head in shame.
Aug. 6, 2012, 7:18 p.m. CST
Carpenter himself told the story in LA for the 25 year anniversary at The Egyptian. That was an epic showing!
Aug. 6, 2012, 7:56 p.m. CST
"Once I thought of the final shot [of TDKR], I knew I wanted to make the movie." The actual final shot is nice, but your idea would be a lot more powerful. I wonder if that was the shot he first thought of?
Aug. 6, 2012, 8:18 p.m. CST
30 years? Masterpiece. There should be some kind of statue built in Hollywood in Rob Bottin's work on this film. So good, so well before its time. You can tell that he nearly killed himself trying to make it.
Aug. 6, 2012, 8:43 p.m. CST
Man, between Carpenter and DePalma, being a kid in the 80's was a good time to be alive.
Aug. 6, 2012, 8:50 p.m. CST
by rakesh patel
not his best work. and for the life of me i cant understand why the fuck jamie lee curtis was in that movie. i mean ok, she has a one night stand , but god damm it, after a wone night stand you leave, dont hang around to go on a fishing boat and finding a dead body and then hang out in the morgue. what the fuck?!?! I kept thinking, maybe tom atkins should now kinda say. hey, you know that was fun yeah,, but get the fuck out and hitch hike your ass outta here! A minor blip on his resume. the thing was superb. And they life resonates with even more with me today then it did when i first saw it. Nice interview Capone.
Aug. 6, 2012, 9:01 p.m. CST
during its opening week. About 15 min. into the movie an usher calls out in the theater: Does anyone here drive and blue and white suburban, license #......? That was my car! I went out and a woman had run into it in the parking lot! Ripped off my back bumper. I could live with that, but damn I missed part of the movie. Naturally, I saw it a couple of more times that week.
Aug. 6, 2012, 9:13 p.m. CST
... even as a kid I could sense that the basic plot and characters didn't quite compel and grip like those in Carpenter's other movies from Halloween to Escape from New York. There could be a number of reasons for this. It's a difficult thing to pinpoint. I think people sensed this, and it was definitely compared to 1979's ALIEN unfavorably at the time of release. Of course, these days it seems just fine. And the effects were real ART. Truly a game changer that is influential through movies today.
Aug. 6, 2012, 9:35 p.m. CST
Suddenly it seems to me that in the horror universe the film that "Prometheus" most resembles is "Prince of Darkness" -
a room full of scientists get in over there heads, meet forces they had not even ever dreamed of and their hubris hobbles them and leaves them open to the unimaginable terror ahead of them. That said, I really love the chaotic free-for-all that "Prince of Darkness" is and feel that it tells that story best (and with a lot cheaper effects).
Aug. 6, 2012, 9:39 p.m. CST
Some interesting stuff. He really doesn't seem to want to "work" anymore, or do much that requires effort. Also had some stuff to say about Roth, Aronofsky and Cronenberg. Worth checking out. Once you start there, plenty of other Carpenter interviews on YT to keep you busy...
Aug. 6, 2012, 10 p.m. CST
Crazy homage to Lovecraft...Sam Neil in that closing shot - WHOOO boy. LOVE it Also a fan of the usual Carpenter stuff: The Thing is a masterpiece, Halloween, Escape from New York, and Starman (he directed Jeff Bridges to an Oscar nom)
Aug. 6, 2012, 11:22 p.m. CST
by illegal alien vs sexual predator
Ghosts of Mars was shooting in a gypsum mine near my house in Jemez Springs,NM and everyday going to and from work I'd pass numerous location signs with G.O.M. stenciled on them. I was so excited Carpenter was was filming his new movie in my hood that I would try to psych myself into stealing a sign. When I finally did, a cop pulled up behind me after getting into my car and took my license and registration. He didnt notice the sign in the front seat but did notice that I failed to pay a fine months back and hauled my ass to jail for the night and impounded my car! To make matters worse Ghosts of Mars sucked.
Aug. 6, 2012, 11:49 p.m. CST
Aug. 7, 2012, 12:16 a.m. CST
Santa Claus the Movie.<p> Wrote a darker version of the myths that had been saccharine by time much like the original Grimm tales.<p> Much as I like the Polish guys interpretation, this seems like cinematic gold that never was. Imagine, John Carpenter's Christmas movie.....1985 style.
Aug. 7, 2012, 12:20 a.m. CST
Damn autocorrect.<p> I notice he tactfully sidestepped Capone's quote about remakes being a strange violation of sorts. <p> The remakes of Fog, Thing and especially that overrated, overhyped piece of shit from the rock star formerly known as Gen. Robert Cummings masquerading as a legitimate filmmaker are all textbook examples of what NOT to do when referencing the original source material.<p> But I digress.....
Aug. 7, 2012, 1:05 a.m. CST
Aug. 7, 2012, 1:05 a.m. CST
Aug. 7, 2012, 1:05 a.m. CST
Aug. 7, 2012, 1:08 a.m. CST
Check out the above mentioned John Carpenter Choice Cuts interview at the 12 minute mark where he throws his head back and rolls his eyes when asked about the current crop of Halloween movies and what the Akkads have done to the franchise.<p> Still think he gave Rob Zombie his blessing little boy.<p> We'll replace the SCHWING with a pwned.
Aug. 7, 2012, 1:13 a.m. CST
The *Is this the most hated movie...* headline wasn't on a Cinefantastique cover. They did have a reviews section at the back which didn't pull punches, though.
Might have been a review in a non-THE THING issue. I also have the Fangoria's which cover THE THING - that quote isn't in those, either. Both Cinefantastique and Fangoria covered the FX work extensively and, really, that's what we were most interested in at the time. The Cinefantastique on THE THING is a real gem with many storyboards...their SFX/VFX journalism in the early years rivaled Cinefex.
Aug. 7, 2012, 7:57 a.m. CST
Thanks for the rec, awesome interview. I honestly don't think most people who've never tried to make a feature (hell, even a short) or written a feature length script, or several, know or understand how much it takes out of you. Hell, any creative endeavor that you actually complete... and to do it the way he did it for as long as he did with that kind of run just fucking destroyed him. I don't think it was a Coppola thing, where one movie broke him, I think he just got worn out over time and the fight left him. I honestly can't say I blame him... cause if he were turning out one piece of shit that sullied his name after another, everyone would be saying, "Call it quits, already!" Instead, everyone is like, "Do you have ONE more in you? Come on, keep going, don't you wanna keep directing?" I admire him for just being like, 'FUCK NO, I wanna play XBOX.' Unlike most people, he's earned it. However, I DO think sometimes that he doesn't realize or fights his own legacy. But at the same time, he's willing to say, "Yeah, most movies today are corporate shit." It reminds me of John Lennon... shit all over the Beatles throughout the 70's but woe betide anyone else who questioned their legacy. Myself, I think it's kind of a protective reaction rooted in the fear of getting hurt in some way. Or it can be that you're in another place and are just sick to death of discussing it and it's a way of dealing with that. Being a cranky old fuck about the stuff you once did that everyone loves. I get it, though. One other thing I wanted to say - I don't think Halloween gets nearly enough love. That movie is so fucking awesome that I can't believe it's mentioned as if it's on the same level as The Fog or other works of his, when I think, as a piece of pop culture mythology, it goes way past The Thing, even if the film itself doesn't surpass it. I don't know, man... John Carpenter just had one of those magical, inexplicable runs and you can see it in those old BTS videos on youtube on The Thing. Anytime you're seeing an artist at the peak of their powers in the thick of it, they ALL have sort of the same demeanor: quiet knowingness. I guess it's 'The Zone', they know their shit, they know they know their shit, and they're almost meditative about it. The first time I ever noticed it was watching something on Michael Jackson during Thriller and then I noticed it with George Lucas on the set of Raiders and Empire, Coppola on Godfather 2, The Beatles during Sgt. Pepper and The White Album (though that was also drugs) and DEFINITELY Carpenter on The Thing. See, he's fucking up there man and I don't know how much he realizes it.
Aug. 7, 2012, 8:30 a.m. CST
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/THE-THING-COMPLETE-SCORE-LIMITED-1500-OOP-ENNIO-MORRICONE-JOHN-CARPENTER-/271031039677?pt=UK_CDsDVDs_CDs_CDs_GL&hash=item3f1ab576bd Yes, they ship to the US! :)
Aug. 7, 2012, 8:42 a.m. CST
Aug. 7, 2012, 8:47 a.m. CST
Ha-ha. Don't mention it as I remeber quite a few of your (In)famous posts/quotes which I concur with. One being that JC has this Punk ass attitude (Punk as in rebellious toward the Hollywood "establishment") when making his movies and not neccesarly comprimising. I haven't seen the Ward yet, but i take your word that it can't be worse than Snyder's Sucker Punch. It's unfortunate that the prick Mods banned you just for being honest as oppossed to being some kind of lemming that agrees with everything and everyone else. It's OK to be somewhat of a contrairian and have your own opinion regardless of who agrees or not. What's your take on Nolan's final chapter of the Batman opus? The reviews/opinions form amny were a bit polarizing.However, I enjoyed the Film immensely despite a few minor flaws. Anyway, don't let the fuckers discourage you from coming onto the Talkbacks as i have seen far negative comments from Tbers who have yet to receive the Ban-Hammer. to quote Snake as he slaps Surfer dude peter Fonda five, (EFLA) "Later"!
Aug. 7, 2012, 8:50 a.m. CST
and hellz yea, Blade runner and The Thing would eat E.T. up for Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner and fucking Desert.
Aug. 7, 2012, 8:50 a.m. CST
when I wrote that last post. I was kind of like, "I didn't see him mention Aronofsky yet, maybe I missed something." Then I saw the end, about those 'horror dinners' or whatever the fuck and holy shit... I can't believe he said that about Cronenberg, Aronofsky, and Roth (his Hollywood hair!). Wow... I loved him before, but now Carpenter is my hero for life.
Aug. 7, 2012, 8:58 a.m. CST
LMMFAO@ Russel's testimonial quote; "If you think he's just some little White guy who you can walk over, think again". No doubt, he's one of my favorite Directors thanks to more original high concept thrillers and not to mention that his works were often duplicated. director-writer-producer-composer yeah some of you guys can call Cameron King, but JC's a fucking legend!
Aug. 7, 2012, 9:01 a.m. CST
You were banned? For what?
Aug. 7, 2012, 12:03 p.m. CST
I believe, though i have no prove to back it up, that i got banned because i pissed too much on Team Abrams' parade in here. A big no-no.
Aug. 7, 2012, 12:09 p.m. CST
I loved THE DARK KNIGHT RISES to bits. I see no minor flaws in it, all i see is exquite and smart filmmaking on all departments, from acting to script to the technical side, the whole lot. In Capone's review of TOTAL RECALL i posted my thoughs on the movie (in my usual broken english), so if you can be bothered with, you can check it out if you will. I think that TDKR is a fantastic final chapter to Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY. And Harry's review of the movie has to be one of the most baffling things i ever read from him. It's as if he hadn't actually seen the movie, or was so distracted he missed out all the things that explain or justify the things he thinks the movie is at fault with.
Aug. 7, 2012, 12:10 p.m. CST
Just go to such countries like UK, France and Germany and wait for the answer. In those countries, specially France, Carpenter is a God. Not just a respected filmmaker, but a GOD.
Aug. 7, 2012, 1:18 p.m. CST
I must have missed that one... would be really interested to see/hear that one.
Aug. 7, 2012, 1:20 p.m. CST
...Bruce was informed by his Psysician, that he has lost cartiledge in his knee and was forced to equip himself with some mechanical leg brace. Now after bane defeats him and sends him off into some Gulag, how the hell did Wayne manage to climb out of that Hole/prison pit since he has been stripped of the Knee brace? doing push ups is one thing, but being able to run and stand straight is totally unusual. Did i miss something?!? Also the slugfest between bats and bane came off a bit like some streetfight and we all know that Batman is capable of various martial arts Moves and not just some guy trading punches. bane getting killed off that way was unexpected and should have been done much better. After bats defeats him, Bane stubbornly tries something devious like pulling out some hidden weapon only then to be blasted by catwoman. wether or not you agree, i think there should have been a better way to close bane's chapter. However, I rate TDKR as my second favorite movie. (Guess which earned top praise?) Great plot wists, character development and closure more than made it clear that Nolan knocked this one out the park. (i was the very first to applaud as the credits began to roll.) Still have no fucking clue what Harry was bitching about other than his slefish sense of Geek entitlement. but he's in the minority on this one.
Aug. 7, 2012, 1:53 p.m. CST
I can't say I "hate" TDKR, but it was waaay too long and kind of rambled on. I liked elements of it, but it had no sense of pace and had it's fair share of plot issues.
Aug. 7, 2012, 2:23 p.m. CST
Google what fliphole36 said, "Choice Cuts Carpenter Inteview", or just search it on youtube. It's about 25 minutes long and very laid back, but he's pretty open about everything, as usual. Asi: I think I've always been united in my hatred of Abrams with you, though I did like some things about Super 8 and I must confess, I didn't hate his ST as much the first time as I did on further viewings. His may just be the most empty cinema of all... it's worse than cotton candy. I can't believe the nepotistic little 'magic mystery box' douche and his minions regularly gets a pass while people will bitch about TDKR and District 9. I posted something that you might appreciate in the talkback about Lindelof being off of the Prometheus sequel. It goes directly back to Abrams 'magic box' bullshit and I think the problem itself has its roots in everything he's ever done, including the marketing campaign for Cloverfield. The title was, "Let's stop being clever in movies..." by that, I mean this FUCKING RIDICULOUS OBSESSION with not only trying to stay one step ahead of the audience, but to have multiple 'turns' in a movie where everything needs to be a revelation or flipped on its head or call into question everything else you've seen prior? What happened to just building to a satisfying climax and enjoying time spent with great characters testing themselves along the way? (i.e. - Jaws, Die Hard, Raiders... fucking ALIEN anyone?!). I mean, Close Encounters doesn't end with the humans who made humans getting out of the ship. It would be fucking silly and stupid and would be EXACTLY what they'd worry about today, rather than, you know, making Roy and Lacombe and the rest great and satisfying characters BEFORE you worry about coming up with some revelatory ending. The ending of Jaws would be that it was all a video game or a dream or purgatory or some other fucking bullshit... what happened to just testing your limits, throwing Hanz out a fucking window and blowing the shark up? What happened to the Ark opens up and kills everyone except our heros? We love it because we've been dealing with the evil fucking Nazi's and the french asshole for two hours and it's great to see them get their comeuppance. What's in the Ark never really mattered in order for the movie to be satisfying. Sure, the Ark puts on a great show, but nothing about what's inside tells us anything we didn't already know or were aware of. Because what makes the movie great are the GREAT, WELL ACTED PARTS. If Lindeloff, or Orci, or Abrams made the movie, it would all have to turn in on itself like a pretzel, violating everything that's come before, make no sense at all, and all just to get one dumb fuck in the audience to go, "Whoooooooa...." for a MILLISECOND before they leave the theater and start thinking about how what they just saw doesn't add up or make ANY FUCKING SENSE. Ok, rant over.
Aug. 7, 2012, 2:33 p.m. CST
I give Nolan credit for trying to shoehorn as much plot arcs as possible without making TDKR a total mess. What I liked is how the Movie focused on the Man behind the Cowl which gave us further insight of Wayne's stuggles and vulnerabilities. I liked the little plot twist involving Bane's "origin" and the Bomb plot came off as your typical MCGuffin Device scenario but it was significant to the last few Minutes of the Film. people often griped on how in the hell could bruce could have survived that blast, and in turn all I can say is..."he's fucking Batman, dammit"!! it's a trivial response but it's also self explanitory. (especially to those who are aware of Bats' background.) By no means is TDKR bad especially compared to other third acts like Spiderman,X-men and Star wars. (Return of the jedi needed serious tweaks IMO.) Harry was just nitpicking due to his unsupassed expectations.
Aug. 7, 2012, 3:29 p.m. CST
bane getting killed off that way was unexpected and should have been done much better
Aug. 7, 2012, 6:01 p.m. CST
Aug. 8, 2012, 6:42 a.m. CST
Hery, a fellow Brit! For some reason I always presume everyone on here but me is in the States! Hope you manage to score a copy, bud :)
Aug. 9, 2012, 4:48 a.m. CST
Guys I love all of Carpenter's stuff pre-1988. But this love for him that everyone gives without calling him out on a career that just plunged needs to be addressed. He had a great run from 1976 - 1988 and then he just fell into the pit. Even if we give In The Mouth Of Madness a pass <and I am not a big fan of it>. Look at all of his shit! MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN - Awful BODY BAGS - Carpenter's lame attempt at ripping off Tales From The Crypt IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS - Gets a pass VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED - Good, shitty film at the time. But watch it now and it looks like a SyFy Channel film. ESCAPE FROM LA - A fucking embarassment. A Xeroxed copy of the original with some White Out used. Not one piece of originality in it. I was told by several who worked on the film that Carpenter was falling asleep every night working on the set. It shows because this film was a pure act of laziness. Only props go to Kurt Russell for committing career suicide for his friend VAMPIRES - Good James Woods wasted in a shitty fucking vampire film GHOSTS OF MARS - Seriously, what the fuck was this film? It reminds me of a guy like Landis. A great run and then you get Beverly Hills Cop III, The Stupids and Blues Brothers 2000 and has never recovered. The other thing that bothers me is him pissing on Albert Whitlock and the memory of him like that. The man was a legendary artist and he was old school. You had to have tea with him. Big fucking deal. Carpenter was probably pissed off that he had to stop smoking for 30 minutes. Talk about an addict. Ever listen to his commentaries? His lighter is going off every 10-15 mins.
Aug. 10, 2012, 11:45 a.m. CST
by Quake II
Carpenter notoriously doesn't give a fuck about his own movies and will gladly let you remake any of his films for a bottle of whisky and a producer credit. The Thing, Halloween, The Fog and Assault On Precinct 13 are all fantastic movies remade into shitty films. Just waiting for the sure to be terrible Escape From New York remake.......
Aug. 10, 2012, 8:06 p.m. CST
As for the Carp, why doesn't he do a real western?! And stop comparing/blaming E.T. for The Thing's failure. Two different beasts at work, differently and beautifully in their own styles.
Aug. 10, 2012, 8:07 p.m. CST
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