Archive for the 'john carpenter' Category


john carpenter’s “the thing” a chat with the director on the 30th anniversary

Dave Struzen’s incredible poster

June the 25th 1982. On this day in history two incredible science fiction films opened at the same time. Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing” Both films were ahead of their time in terms of visual design and creature effects and influenced the way movies looked for decades after.  At the time of their release both pictures did quite poorly at the box office. “ET” had come out two weeks earlier and Spielberg’s masterpiece made the world turn all soft and cuddly in the way audiences viewed Science Fiction and aliens in particular. So these two dark and heavy films chased the good mood crowds away. 30 years later their popularity is without measure and both films stand out as classics. Reviewers and fans alike will say that both movies are the directors crowning achievements. I love both motion pictures immensely, but Carpenter’s version of “The Thing” stands as one of my all time favorite movies. My good buddy Rod Andrewson and I were there on opening night and I don’t really think either of us were prepared to experience what we were about to see. The coming attraction trailer’s we got for this one were very vague and showed nothing from the film. Being huge fans of Hawk’s original, the teaser only showed a block of ice with something moving inside of it followed by text saying, “coming this Summer”. On opening night however terror in movies took on a whole new meaning. Most of my popcorn wound up in the air and on the floor and Rods candy did just about the same. Great times to be sure and we both went out and took back as many friends, (or victims would be a more proper term) as we could for the rest of the summer! hard to believe that all happened 30 years ago…….  Anyways!!!!!!!

If your a regular reader here your very familiar with the name John Carpenter. Johns films and music have always been amongst my favorites, and with today being the 30th Anniversary of “The Thing” I couldn’t think of a better way to remember this film than to have a quick chat with the master himself. John has done a lot of interviews as well as a great commentary on “The Thing” and every time there is a new discussion more interesting behind the scenes information comes out. Working on a location film is a huge undertaking and what you see on film is really the smallest part of the adventure. Watching the movie on screen you can only imagine that making “The Thing” was an incredible challenge on multiple levels. Ask anyone who was a part of this film and they will tell you that the production was hard but the end results were all worth it.

So without any further babble, here is John Carpenter answering a few questions about the making of “The Thing”

JE.    Hi John, Thanks for taking some time today to talk about your film.   I remember watching your first big hit “Halloween” in the 70’s, and in one of the background scenes we see Jamie Lee Curtis watching Howard Hawks “The Thing” on TV. It was obvious then that you were a fan and it was funny to see just a few years later you would be doing your own version. If I could ask how did this come to be. Did you approach Universal about doing the film or did they come to you???

JC.    I was asked to do The Thing, I was a fan but I really didn’t want to remake this movie. It took a while but Universal finally convinced me to sign on. so I agreed and the adventure began.

JE.   I was so glad that you took it on. When the trailers started showing in the theaters I was thrilled to see your name as the director.  A lot of your previous films credited you with conceiving the screenplay. For “The Thing” you were taking on an existing story and I was curious to how much Universal allowed you to contribute.

JC.   Bill Lancaster (the son of Burt Lancaster) and I wrote the story together. We based our version on the Original story “Who Goes there” by John Campbell. We stayed far away from Hawk’s film, and we really wanted to make our own story.

JE.   Well You certainly did!!!  For your Production designer you brought on John L. Lloyd. John has had a fabulous Career working on decades of Classic Television, and more recently some rather extravagant movies. What a treat it must have been to work with him.

JC.   It was!! John was a blast to work with and he was so professional. He solved a lot of problems before they had a chance start.

JE.   That was a brilliant idea to Use the US compound after it was blown up for the Norwegian camp in the opening of the film.

JC.   Yes it worked out great. We shot all the Norwegian exteriors last using the burned out US outpost and saved a lot of money. John (John Lloyd) did a fantastic job utilizing the same location for both sets.

JE.   I became a big fan of Mike Ploog’s art because of “The Thing”  He does some brilliant fantasy work and I love his style of story boarding. How was it having him as a part of your team?

JC.  Boarding the film was a very important factor especially because for the most part we were shooting the movie in order. Mike put together a book logging all of boards, as well as some illustrations of how a lot of the visual gags would work. Mike took on the task and really did a great job with it.

JE.   Up to this point you had composed and performed all of your own scores. I was expecting the same with “The Thing” and was surprised to see Ennio Morricone’s name on the poster.  I never knew the story about this so I was assuming that the scope of the show was huge and you didn’t have time to do it yourself, so you hired Ennio. HAAAA! Is that even close to what really happened?

JC.   No not at all, Universal didn’t want me to score the film,,, They wanted something more for their movie. Ennio was available so we hired him and I couldn’t have asked for more. I was always big fan of his music.

JE.  Ennio’s score defiantly captured your style, were you a part of how the score would be composed?

JC.   Yes, We were able to work together on the score, and mutually came up with how it should sound. Very fun times.

JE.   As far as your cast went you had no leading ladies, is that how it was Campbell’s story?

JC.   yes the all male cast came from Campbell and the actors we chose were all great fun to work with. This was my third picture with Kurt Russell and my first with many of the others.

JE. Will Brimley pulled off quite a performance and he seemed like a fun actor to work with. From watching his other films he seems the same both on and off the camera.

JC.  Brimley is Brimley, He really made his character (Blair) very believable and he was great to work with,, I liked him very much

JE.    He is a good friend of my father in law and he says the same about you!

JE.   This is also your third film using Dean Cundey as your director of photography. You two have had a great working relationship and I was curious to how you two work. I’ve been on sets where the DP not only lights the shot but dictates where the camera positions will be.

JC.  I love working with Dean… No one can light a set like he does and what he did on “The Thing” was just great.  As far as setting up the camera, I don’t let anyone set up my shots for me, Haaa.

JE.  Watching “The Thing ” in Arizona was quite a treat, the theaters were always packed with screaming fans, and the local critics had nothing but praise for the film. This didn’t seem to be the case around the rest of the country. The reviews were harsh to say the least and the box office attendance was not what Universal was hoping for… You put a lot of yourself into your work so all of this had to have hit pretty hard.

JC.   Yes it did… Critics are critics and they really didn’t like the film. “The Thing” was supposed to come out before “ET” but Universal changed the order of release so our movie came out a few weeks later.  Audiences now wanted nice alien movies and I feel this really pulled the film down. What hurt me the most though was that the fans didn’t like it! They bashed it severely and I couldn’t understand why. This all really effected me.

JE.   I can’t even imagine how hard those times must have been. You really do put a lot into what you do and I can’t believe that it was attacked so… Looking back on the film at the time of it’s release. regardless of how it was received, you as a film director have to be very proud of what you and your team put together.

JC.  In perspective I am very proud of “The Thing”. It all came together and I was very happy with film.

JE.  It must be rewarding to see how popular the movie has become today.

JC.   I am, it took a long time for the audience to come around and it seems to have  a cult following.

JE.   Well John Thank you so much for taking the time to reminisce  about”The Thing” and I am so glad we had a chance to catch up a bit. Take care and talk to you again soon.

JC.   My pleasure.

In case you haven’t seen “The thing” yet here is a brief synopsis of the film and some images to wet your appetite.

It’s the winter of 1982 and a huge Antarctic snow storm is about to hit.   Scientists at small American research base are stunned when a Norwegian helicopter begins to circle their camp, chasing and firing at a dog. When the helicopter is destroyed and the two passengers are killed, the dog is let into the base and roams free while the American’s try to figure out what has just happened. The American crew discover that their is a Norwegian base not too far from their own. So a the doctor and the US Helicopter pilot travel to the  Norwegian base to see if their are any survivors. On arrival, they find that the place has been totally destroyed from the inside out. The two discover and large block of ice in one of the rooms that at one time had something frozen in it. Further exploration finds a frozen mans body in one of the burned out rooms He had committed suicide with a strait razor. On departure they make one more grizzly find. It’s of the mangled remains of what was at one time a person. They bring back the remains for further study and what the team discovers from the autopsies and by watching the Norwegians tapes leaves them all feeling that they are in horrible danger. As the clues are beginning to add up; the dog transforms into a horrible into a creature that attacks the other dogs in the kennel as well as the scientific team.. Fire seems to be the best weapon and the charred remains open up a box of more questions with very little answers. A new tweam is assembled and off again they fly back to the Norwegian camp and  on this trip they discover the remains of a giant flying saucer frozen in the ice as well as the spot where the block of ice was cut from. They come to a terrible conclusion that they are dealing with an alien life form that has the power to transform and take the appearance of any living creature that it comes in close contact with. And man is the warmest place to hide. Paranoia sets in as the crew doesn’t know who the thing could be hiding in.  Havoc ensues and one by one the the crew is lost as the Thing tries to survive. As the team’s #’s dwindle they discover that the creature has been building a spaceship under the ice using parts from their tractors and helicopter. The decision is made that the whole camp has to go at any cost before the thing can escape, or freeze again only to awakened when the rescue team comes in spring. Lots of story twists bring this horrifying to an open ended final and you are left wanting more.

Carpenter and his team really made one wicked tale with “The Thing” and Johns talent’s as a director shined oh so brightly !!!!  His story took us on a two hour adventure, deep  into a frozen world where fear, claustrophobia and paranoia are the emotional fuels that make this film so utterly horrifying.

Happy 30th John and to your amazing movie as well.

100,000 years ago, a disable flying saucer enters the earth’s atmosphere.

The title was shot the same way as it was in the 1951 version of the film.

The Norwegians hunting the dog.

the block of ice

a gruesome discovery.

Chaos in the kennel

More clues and not many answers

The discovery, this is one of Albert Whitlock’s matte paintings

The truth is revealed and the entire population of the world is threatened if this Thing makes back to civilization.

The first of the human victoms.

Fire is the only solution.

A moment of hope.

Turns into a moment of unholy horror.

Rob Bottin at his best.

More of Bottin’s work

And one more!!!!

The blood test

The death of Window’s

The creature has been making a flying saucer under the ice

The destruction of the camp

the last survivors

the last survivors

the end


monsterpalooza April, 13th-15th, 2012

WOW!!!  What an incredible show this was!!! As much as I love Comicon and Wondercon, Monsterpalooza has become my new Favorite of the collector shows. The Palooza started Friday evening at 6:00 and went through the weekend. There were tons of incredible vendor booths, live make-up, airbrush, and mold making seminars, Movie and horror directors& stars, as well as a host of special make up FX artists.. Monsterpalooza has been an annual event but this year they are adding another show in October and again it will be in Burbank!!!! I’m booking this one as we speak. I took tons of pix from the show and they will speak volumes so enough chatter from me and lets go right into the show…

This is a painting of Grandpa from the "Munsters" painted by the incredible Daniel Horne. Dan had many pieces of his work at the show and I was blown away by his incredible talent and what a great subject manner to display his mastery of the media

This is a painting of Grandpa from the "Munsters" painted by the incredible Daniel Horne. Dan had many pieces of his work at the show and I was blown away by his incredible talent, and what a great subject matter to display his mastery of the media

Here is another one of Dan's masterpieces!!! I'm only going to post two of his paintings because I'm going to do a special blog post about him very soon.

Here is another one of Dan's masterpieces!!! I'm only going to post two of his paintings because I'm going to do a special blog post about him very soon.

There was also a horror museum and this was one of the pieces on display

There was also a horror museum and this was one of the pieces on display

more from the Museum

more from the Museum

If your a fan of John Carpenter's "The Thing" you'll know who this is..

Most of the work in the Museum was full scale and beyond, this piece stood at least 8 to 9 feet tall

Most of the work in the Museum was full scale and beyond, this piece stood at least 8 to 9 feet tall

this was a shot from a vendors booth who sold horror candles as well as a lot of other great stuff,,,, Check out "The Thing Candle" in the middle

I believe this was from "Cloverfield"

I believe this was from "Cloverfield"

famous busts

A full size horror display featuring the silent film version of "Phantom of the Opera"

A most impressive piece of work, A full size sculpture of Rick Baker applying "An American Werewolf in London" make up on David Naughton

by the same artist another life sized sculpture of Jack Pierce applying mummy make up to Boris Karloff. Rick Baker's hands were cast and used for Pierce's hands.

another view of this incredible sculpture

Frankie in full scale

some pieces from one of the many booths

more cool stuff

IT"S THOMAS WAITES!!!! This is the actor who played the character, Windows in John Carpenter's "The Thing" Thomas was very kind and let me snag a pic with him!!!

Frank Dietz and Trish Geiger of Bonevelent Monster Productions were at the show promoting their new film "Beast Wishes" which is a tribute film to Bob and Kathy Burns. The filmed premiered Thursday night at the Arclight theater in Hollywood and is the best tribute film I have ever seen.. Stay tuned for a special blog about these two and their film in the near future

Don't eat worms or spend to much time at the cemetary

Michael Jackson!!!!!! Incredible

always wear your retainers at night or else

I would die to have this kind of talent!!!

this was a beautiful yet disturbing piece depicting the life of a bunch of zombies

so many great creatures

this was a giant phone booth sized machine that when activated, opened up to a full animatronic character that would sing then try to blow you to pieces when you critiqued his lack of singing skills

My buddy Nelson and his fav piece of the show

a one eyed beauty

this artist sculpts in both practical media as well as Z brush and teaches classes on how to master the program

This young gal had the best outfit n make up!!! She was just a convention goer and was incredibly scary!!

This is Ed and Charlie Chiodo, combined with Steven, they are the Chiodo Brothers. These three incredibly talented artists have a studio in Burbank CA, and in 1988 they wrote and directed as well as made all the Klowns for the space epic "The Killer Klowns from Outer Space", and most recently they created all the puppets for Team America. Three great guys and always working on some very cool projects.

a young Zombie on her way to the showroom.

the Monsterpalooza clock!!!

glad these things were behind glass

here a four ghouls that no one would want to have a blind date with, Sorry I don't have the little black sensor bars to cover things, so quickly move on if your kids are in the room with you!!!

the next several pictures are from the booth where the ghoulie girls were at.. here is something Hannis from "The Ring"

more awesome masks

the focus is a little soft but had to post this incredible piece anyways

Ahhh how cute, A little vampire alien


full werewolf costumes

these suits n masks are to cool for words

if your in the market for adopting a little demon, you had a lot of them to choose from

and this is the final pic from the show!!!! enjoy


the 30th of john carpenter’s escape from new york


July the 10th, 1981 was the opening day for one of John Carpenter’s finest films. Escape from New York was released across the nation and I was there on opening night. Hi friends,, It’s been a while since I have been able to blog but I couldn’t miss the 30th anniversary of  EFNY!!! All I can say is what a awesome ride and what an incredible film. John Carpenter was on the rise and “Escape” marked his third feature release as director and also his third film in partnership with producer Debra Hill. Escape is a basically a western set in a slightly futuristic setting. 1997 to be exact and all that John loved and was inspired by from Howard Hawks and John Ford shows with a great homage on the screen. The story was written by Carpenter and his friend Nick Castle, and along with their very imaginative tale Carpenter also scored the film and his music adds a very intense mood and feel to the motion picture.  This has always been one of my Favorites and I find it so hard to believe that opening day was 30 years ago.. Thanks and Happy Anniversary John for sharing your great talents on the screen… You are a master at what you do and your films are so uniquely yours!!! Here is a quick synopsis of the film so if you haven’t seen it yet, stop here and put this one on the top of your list. If you have then carry on and enjoy the text and images to follow. For unknown reasons the city of New York has been turned into the main prison for the entire United States. A security fence has been constructed around Manhattan Island and is patrolled by the United States Police Force. If your sentenced to prison, once over the wall your on your own and life expectancy is rather short. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is en route to be processed when Air Force One is hijacked and crashes inside of the prison’s confines. Prison Security Chief Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) has 24 hours to get the president and a special cassette recording out before the Hartford Summit ends. A failed rescue plan leads Hauk to offer Snake Plissken full pardon if he can get in and save the president. Plisken, once a war hero takes the offer but not without a price. Hauk injects Plissken with what he says are antibiotics but in fact are tiny explosives in his artery’s that have a 24 hour limit before they go off. Once Plissken finds out about this he is far more determined to succeed at his mission. Armed with guns, throwing stars and a whole bunch of devices that would make James Bond Jealous, Snake fly’s in a glider called the gulf fire and lands on top of the world trade center and begins his search for the president ( Donald Pleasence). Along the way Snake encounters the drudgery of what New York has become and his lonely search gains ground when he meets Cabby (Ernest Borgnine) who knows where the president is, Cabby takes Snake to meet Brain (Harry Dean Stanton) and his squeeze Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) who work for the Duke of New York (Isaac Hayes) who has the president and is going to use him as their ticket to freedom. A failed attempt to rescue the president by Snake puts him into the Dukes Barbaric world. Snake is forced to be sport in a gladiator style ring and fight for his life. Brain comes up with his own plan and steals the president and is later joined by snake who has escaped from the arena. This motley crew makes a break for the heavily mined 64th street bridge pursued by the Duke. After battling the mines and the loss of Brain, Maggie, and Cabby, Snake and the President make for the wall at the end of the bridge where Hauk’s men are waiting to rescue the two. A final shoot out with the Duke takes place and the President himself serves his revenge with a lethal volley of bullets from an M-16. Once over the wall Snake gets the charges burned out of his neck with only seconds to spare. As the movie comes to a close we see the president getting cleaned up for an emergency broadcast to the summit. A face to face a conversation takes place between the president and Snake and it is quickly realized that the sacrifices that Plissken and and those involved to get the president out are meaningless and quickly forgotten. The film ends with a very nice little twist and the credits roll!!!

the prison layout

the prison called New York, Matte painting

the deal is made

coming into land, a beautiful VFX shot


the Duke and his court

the President

the ring


“the thing – from another world!”, the 60th anniversary

the thing poster

On April the 27th, 1951, RKO pictures released one of the greatest Science Fiction movies of all time. Howard Hawks, “The Thing”.  The film is loosely Based on a 1938 novella called “Who goes there?” by John W. Campbell which appeared in a publication called Astounding Science Fiction.  The film was produced by the legendary Howard Hawks and stars Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, and “the Thing” played by a very Young James Arness.

The story takes place in Anchorage Alaska where a group of US service men are summoned by a Dr. Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) who has a scientific research facility near the North Pole. The Dr. has reason to believe an unknown aircraft has crashed into the ice nearby. The Air Force crew, joined by a local reporter looking for a story, sets out to join the scientific team aboard a modified  C-47. Once they arrive the adventure begins.  Debriefed by the Dr., the team sets out in search of the craft and from the air they find a long skid in the ice and a circular imprint where something very hot melted it’s way through the ice only to refreeze just below the surface. Upon landing and closer inspection, a stabilizer is the only thing protruding from the ice, and the crew mark out the edges of the ship and confirm it’s shape to be that of a flying saucer.  The crew sets thermite (heat explosives) charges to remove the top layer of ice and accidentally set the ship on fire which causes the entire craft to explode.  The crew inspects the incredible loss of the greatest scientific find of the century only to find something else below the ice.  Geiger counter readings find what appears to be a body thrown from the ship and frozen just feet below the icy surface. Pick axes are used this time to remove a huge block of ice with the unidentifiable human shape inside. Continue reading ‘“the thing – from another world!”, the 60th anniversary’


John carpenter’s ghosts of mars, the art of part 2

Well it’s been 10 years since this art was done for the film and it only seems like yesterday,,, I love that the internet is what it is and we can all share things lost in drawers for over a decade. As I often mention John Carpenter and Sandy King are two of my favorite people in Hollywood and working for them is always a blast. John is currently wrapping up on his new film “The Ward” which from what I have seen looks Awesome, and Sandy most likely has a hundred and one projects in the works. Going back in time to early 2000 Bill elliot hired my friend Joe Musso and myself on to help design the look of “JC’sGOM” We worked together for about 8 weeks getting all the architecture, props, and storyboards done for the film. principle photography was to be done in a Gypsum mine in New mexico with a few scattered interiors in LA. Hunter/Gratzner would handle the VFX and miniature work while KNB would handle the make up end of things! This was one very fun show to draw for and the amount of work we all cranked could easily fill an 18 wheeler. Lots of fun and lots of memories. So with all that said enjoy part 2 of the art of “The Ghosts of Mars”

the train engine, Magnetic propulsion system, 60 feet in length

this was a sketch of the trains interior used as a breakdown of the compartments for the full sized set to be built from in NM

here's the finished set piece

the miniature built by Hunter/Gratzner

this was in the original script and later re-imagined but when it was in the story this piece is what houses the ghosts and the curse of Mars, once it is discovered by an alien invader,, in the movies case, Earth, the simple touch of the intruders hand would break the seal and release the curse which would one by one possess each and every inhabitant of the planet until every one is either killed or taken over.

this was the early concept for the Shining Canyon mine!!!! in the end it wound up being just to big of an idea. What you see of the in the final film version, the mine is basically an excavation site.

after a blasting run , two miners make an unnatural and unearthly discovery

Actress Joanna Cassidy leads the miners into the mysterious Square shaft

the Shining Canyon mine's shanty town

the full sized set in New Mexico


30th anniversary of John Carpenter’s “the fog”

February the 8th, 1980, opening day, & I was a senior in high school.  I was just driving in my first car, had a job and a pocket full of freedom to go to the movies just about anytime I could squeeze them in.  I was pretty new to the rated “R” world of films, and the ones I saw were so vastly different from Star Wars, Bambie, and the Jungle Book which were what filled my movie time just prior to my first “R” rated film, “Alien”!!!!  I really had to pick carefully and work up a lot of courage to go because the territory was uncharted and unrestricted to what amazing or terrifying things it could show me…the gritty reality of  more mature movies was horrifyingly wonderful and  really captured my attention and imagination.

“The Fog” was my theatrical introduction to John Carpenter, and man was it a wicked little tale!!!  I went alone to this one between school and work, and it thrilled and scared me for quite sometime after.  From the film’s opening with the Ghost Story on the beach, to the revelation of the wicked story of how the town of Antonio Bay was founded, to all the horror that Mr. Carpenter so eloquently fashioned throughout this dark tale, I was drawn in.  Thirty years later, I have seen this movie countless times and love it more every time I see it.  “The Fog” is  a great film to see John’s talent in the early days.  He has a gift for storytelling, and I love that his talents are so broad, from writing, composing & performing, directing, editing and finally he’s especially gifted at scaring your socks off!!!  John’s work with Debra Hill make for some awesome productions and are amongst my very favorites of both of their early career films!!!

Lots of fun in-movie jokes in this one as well.  John Carpenter plays a young church worker named Bennet in the opening moments of the show; Bill Taylor plays the bar tender.  Bill Taylor, for those that don’t know, was the VFX supervisor on, and  wrote the song “Benson, Arizona” from, Dark Star.  He later went on to be one of the founders of Illusion Arts ( the optical and matte Painting facility) that just recently closed. Four of the characters in the film are named after friends and inspirations of John’s, Charles Cyphers plays “Dan OBannon” (Co Writer of  Dark Star),  George “Buck” Flower plays “Tommy Wallace” (One of the Coup De Villes and the film’s production designer),  Tom Atkins plays “Nick Castle” (the third member of the Coup De Villes, and film buddy of JC),  and finally Darwin Joston plays “Dr. Phibes” (a horror movie character played by Vincent Price).

This one is a must see for Carpenter fans new and old.  The film takes place in a coastal town and  is told over about a 26 hour period of time on the 21st of April, 1980.  The under story, as told through a diary read by Hal Holbrook, really sets the pace, combined with some excellent roles played by John Houseman, Janet Leigh & Jamie Lee Curtis (mother and daughter in real life), Adrienne Barbeau and, of course, Hal Holbrook.  Rob Bottin is the creator of the special make up and also plays the lead dead settler, “Blake”.  One awesome ride from start to finish, and the commentary on the DVD by John and Debra Hill really makes for a great movie both in front of and behind the scenes!!  Enjoy, and Happy 30th to John Carpenter and one of his many masterpieces, “The Fog”!

a few words by Poe start the film

11:55 and the ghost story begins!!!

Carpenter's Cameo

unhappy words from 100 years ago

Adrienne Barbeau owns the light house that has been converted into a local radio station

sometime after midnight on the 21st of April

look at what the fog drug in

Hal Hollbrook as Father Malone

Jamie Lee Curtis, fresh off the Halloween bus, Joins Carpenter for another scary outing

a couple of steps down to the Point Reyes Light House

a favorite Carpenter trademark, The dead are not always REALLY dead!

Tom Atkins, Bill Taylor, John Vic, Janet Leigh & Nancy Kyes

the fog

even if the killers hiding in the fog knock...don't answer the door!

The fog not only hides the dead but it, too, is a living character capable of doing it's own bidding!

Dean Cundey and the FX crew did some awesome work with the lighting and the practical Fog fx

even this cursed church is not holy enough to keep this evil out

awesome imagery!!! love this shot of Blake and his men

this is an anniversary cover created for the 25th. The 30th editions are at the post office getting canceled, so keep an eye out for the new covers when I get them back.


the 15th anniversary of john carpenter’s, in the mouth of madness


Today…February the 3rd, 2010, marks the 15th Anniversary of one of my many favorite John Carpenter films.  In The Mouth Of Madness is another team effort by John Carpenter, Sandy King, and writer Michael De Luca.  The cast is a brilliant ensemble of characters played by Sam Neill, Charleton Heston, Julie Carmen, David Warner, and Jurgen Prochnow.  The story is loosely based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and Mr. Carpenter again delivers a fine tale woven with his great talents and unique style.

This one is a heavy dialogue piece, and it is a journey that takes a normal, well grounded in reality private investigator and follows him deep into the realm of insanity as the apocalyptic tale engulfs and makes him the main character in the story of the world’s end.  Sam Neill plays John Trent who is an investigator/specialist at insurance fraud.  He is hired by a publishing house to find their best selling horror novelist who has gone missing.  Sutter Cain is the author’s name, and his books, if you read them, will somehow give you horrible nightmares that will soon possess you and make you a follower of Cain!!!  Sam Neill is convinced this is a publicity hoax even though bizarre things start to happen around him after he  leaves Charleton Heston’s office.  Hell bent on proving this is all a hoax, Sam Neil buys all of Sutter Cain’s books and starts to read…yes the nightmares begin immediately, and Carpenter’s magic begins to drag you in and scare you but good.  Neill’s character discovers that all the book covers have some unusual artwork and, with scissors, he cuts away revealing a puzzle that in turn represents a map that takes you to the fictional town from all of Cains stories called “Hobb’s End”.  It takes a hellish nightmare to get you there, but once in Hobb’s End, you can not leave, and this is where the real horror and twists begin!!

This is a very rich tale done with great skill and John’s very dark sense of humor. The score is a wild rock and roll piece written and performed by Carpenter and Jim Lange.  Carpenter is always maturing as a story teller, and unique to this film is that he frames buildings and architecture through his camera in such a way that they, too, become characters in the story!!!  Carpenter is definitely a master at what he does, and this one makes for  another fun Saturday night flick to watch with a bunch of friends!!  Below are some pics from the film, the trailer and a couple of links to fully immerse you into the Mouth of Madness, Enjoy and Happy Anniversary.

Continue reading ‘the 15th anniversary of john carpenter’s, in the mouth of madness’


happy Birthday to John carpenter

It’s January  the 16th, 2010,  and it’s John Carpenter’s Birthday.  If you’re a regular here on the blog, John and his films are mentioned often, and today we all want to wish Mr. Carpenter the very best and a very Happy Birthday.  J.C.’s films were so influential to me as a youngster, and they were the cornerstone of my wanting to get into the movie business.  This summer will mark my 25th year in Hollywood, and I owe John a great deal of thanks for inspiring the path to my future!!!!

It took a while, but in 2000 I got to work on John’s “Ghosts of Mars”, and it was one cool ride.  The crew was awesome and working for JC was a great experience…a very no nonsense kind a guy and knows exactly what he wants, always complimentary and very keen & imaginative with how he sees things.  It was very easy to put his ideas down on paper and more fun to see how he would film everything once it was built.  Carpenter’s work is very unique, and his gritty & hard edged style accompanied by his dark witted humor makes him one wicked cinematic storyteller.  I love all of his films, Horror, Comedy, Drama, Sci Fi, Action, John has done them all; he’s a writer, director, editor, composer, producer, etc., and on top of it all, he and his wife Sandy are two of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.  Below are some cool links and a credit list of John’s awesome body of work !!!  Happy Birthday John and hope you have a good one.

Continue reading ‘happy Birthday to John carpenter’


Dan O’Bannon, saying goodbye!

I just got word of Dan O’bannon’s passing, and I am quite taken back by this horribly sad news!!!  Dan has been mentioned here on the blog many times, and I was unaware that he was battling Crohn’s disease for over 30 years….  Sadly, it looks like he lost the fight on December 17, 2009.  He will be deeply missed!!!  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. O’Bannon, here is a little write-up for you to get to know him a little bit.

Dan O’Bannon’s passion was for movies & writing, and he was quite gifted with an amazing talent to do just that!  He went to USC in the late 60’s/early 70’s and teamed up with fellow wannabe film maker John Carpenter.  Together they were creating a 45 minute short Sci-Fi movie called “Electric Dutchman,” later to be renamed “Dark Star”!  The two men created a hilarious film that was later lengthened and released theatrically.  Both Dan and John wore many hats during the production.  Dan took on the role as Co-writer, Production Designer, Film Dditor, Visual Effects Supervisor and even acting…playing the mistreated and belittled character of Pinback (who’s real name is Bill Froog, but had to become Pinback because that was the name on the uniform).  Dan and John’s film was released on January 16, 1975 ( Carpenter’s 27th Birthday) and died virtually unnoticed!!  Today it has become a cult classic.  The film brought together some vast movie talents such as Greg Jein, Ron Cobb and Bill Taylor, as well as launching both John and Dan’s careers as major movie makers.  Sadly, the partnership did not survive after Dark Star, and both went out in different directions!

Dan went on to his next project of trying to get “Dune” off the ground!!  This attempt fell apart, and Dan went on to do some of the computer graphics for Star Wars.  Unhappy with the thought of becoming a computer graphics designer, Dan went back to his first love of writing and wrote what would be one of the greatest Science fiction films ever made!!!  “Alien” was it’s name, and the mega hit came out in May of 1979.   Along with Star Wars, the look of space movies coming out of Hollywood changed forever.  From there O’Bannon went on to write many other landmark films and stories.  He wrote two of my favorite segments entitled “Soft landing” and the awesomely horrifying “B-17” from the “Heavy Metal” movie released in 1981.  Next he wrote “Blue Thunder,” which he was terribly displeased with; the story had been heavily rewritten and had lost it’s political edge by the time it made it to the big screen.  The same happened with his screenplay for Lifeforce (1985).  In 1986 he wrote a wicked little screenplay for the remake of “Invaders from Mars,” and I was happy to be a part of this one.  I had just started working at Apogee VFX house in Van Nuys,  making Invaders and Top Gun the first two movies I got to work on.  I was extremely happy to be working on a Dan O’Bannon and Tobe Hooper  film!!  Dan switched to the director’s chair  with another cult classic, “Return of the Living Dead,” and then moved on to write another SCI-FI favorite, “Total Recall”.  “Bleeders”, “Screamers” and “The Resurrected” would come in future years.

Dan was a huge fan of Science Fiction and H.P. Lovecraft, as you could tell by his work, but he was a man of incredible talent in so many other fields; he was hysterically funny, very gracious, very kind and  he had a deep appreciation for others and their talents.  He had a strong sense of self confidence and rebellion towards authority which made him able to withstand just about anything and not fall apart when criticism was thrown his way.  He never gave up and always followed his passions with great pride and imagination.  Mr. O’Bannon  is one whom I have great admiration for.  He was the best at what he did, and his work and talent have definitely inspired me in so many ways!!!  He will be missed dearly.  Thank You, Dan, and may God bless and be with your family, friends and especially your wife, Diane, and son Adam.

this link will take you to a great site that has a lot of Dan’s graphics work and a cool interview as well!

Click below to see several great photos of Dan and his amazing work…(if you see the pictures, you’re already there!).

Continue reading ‘Dan O’Bannon, saying goodbye!’


the 25th anniversary of john carpenter’s “starman”

WOW!! Can’t believe it has been 25 years ago that I saw this one!!!  December 14th, 1984 marks the big day for the release of John Carpenter’s romantic space drama STARMAN.  I saw this one opening night with my way back in time girlfriend Kim Cunningham (Whose birthday is also the 14th).  We made the long trip to Meteor Crater right after seeing the movie, and the shots from the film and pictures don’t do this place justice!  It was an awesome movie, and it was great that John made a date movie so I didn’t have to go alone or with my Sci Fi Geek buddies!!!  HAAA!

I have always been a huge Carpenter fan, and he never fails to deliver one favorite movie after another!!!  This one comes on the heels of “The Thing” and “Christine” and showed another side of John’s talents and his love for Science Fiction.  This one has it all!!!  It’s one very sweet love story wrapped around a brilliant tale of intergalactic drama…and lots of helicopters, and a good portion was filmed in my home state of ARIZONA, OOOW-WAAHH!!!!

Jack Nitzsche created a beautiful electronic score that added a magical voice to the story, ILM created some awesome VFX and the roles played by Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith and Richard Jaekel were perfectly cast.  Dick Smith and some nutty guy named DOUG DREXLER provided some of his make up and creature expertise to the film during a transformation sequence, and Donald Morgan’s lighting is brilliant with his use of color and rich atmosphere!!  This is one great show, and be sure to look for John Carpenter’s cameo as one of the helicopter pilots.  Happy 25th, “Starman” and H.B. Kim!!!  Below are some links to the film that make for some good reading!!

Just like in Star Trek, the Voyager satellite gets picked up by an alien craft.

a beauty shot of the Voyager inside the mother-ship, very reminiscent image of ILM's work on Star Trek 2 and Poltergeist

the alien ship launches a ship of their own to investigate the planet Earth

Despite the friendly message from Voyager, we shoot down the craft as a good way to say Howdy!

down she comes

remember in the old movies the space craft would crash behind the tree line and a puff of smoke would rise above??? well not here, this crash sequence is brilliant

continued shot

wow and that was the end of the hundred acre wood

out of the crash another entity arises.

Dick Smith's transformation sequence is awesome. I don't know for sure but it looks like Doug Drexler as a baby...not as muscular but this lil guy is very Doug-ish!!

Jeff Bridges received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Scott

the lovely and talented Karen Allen

lots of Hueys and Rangers

awesome ariel sequences

Charles Martin Smith

the arival

this entire sequence was beautiful, especially with that Nitzsche score playing out

Goodbye Jenny Hayden!

June 2023