American filmmaker John Carpenter is responsible for some of the most celebrated genre movies ever made. Responsible for the likes of horror classic Halloween, iconic urban siege film Assault on Precinct 13, and snowbound sci-fi The Thing, the man born in Carthage, New York would be a shoo-in for a spot on a hypothetical Mount Rushmore of cult movie directors.
In a demonstration of the depth of his filmography, Grimmfest has lined up another all-day marathon of Carpenter movies at Stockport Plaza this August. Dedicated to some of his (slightly) less widely celebrated works, the four film programme showcases the filmmaker’s thrilling sense of economy, his nuts-and-bolts approach to building compelling plot, his ability to conjure unique atmospheres — not to mention his oft-imitated electronic scores.
Starting with 1987’s Prince of Darkness, which sees Carpenter blur the lines between scientific enquiry and theological terror, the films run from horror, to action-comedy, to politically-minded sci-fi and back again. The second film of the day sees Kurt Russell star in 1986’s delirious actioner Big Trouble in Little China, while third up is 1988’s They Live which pits Rowdy Roddy Piper against the aliens who walk among us, as Carpenter balances B-Movie thrills with Reagan-era paranoia.
Lastly, and most excitingly, the Grimmfest team have scheduled a super rare screening of Carpenter’s 1994 In the Mouth of Madness. With a cult following amongst a cult following, Madness stars Sam Neill as an insurance investigator sucked into a surreal, disorientating horror of collapsing fiction and reality, as he investigates the disappearance of horror writer Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow).