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Tag Archive: John Carpenter


The year is 2020 and it’s hell on Earth.  Ching Dai has declared himself ruler of all.  Jack Burton is alone in a tiny corner of Florida with only his broken radio to talk to, until one day it picks up a message.  Someone is out there.

After thirty years a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China sounds like a pretty good thing to John Carpenter and Kurt Russell fans.  That sequel is coming your way later this year, not as a movie, but as part of BOOM! Studios ongoing comic book chronicles of Jack Burton and the Pork-Chop Express.  This good news is Big Trouble in Little China director John Carpenter is penning the story himself, along with comic book writer Anthony Burch and artist Jorge Corona.

Taking a tip from the Marvel Comics playbook and its Old Man Logan stories of an elder Wolverine, the Big Trouble sequel series will feature the end-of-the-line story of Kurt Russell’s truck driver.  Titled Old Man Jack, the series is practically begging for every publisher to begin featuring the older side of its heroes.  This story is also timely in that we have just seen a good look at grey-haired Kurt Russell as Starlord’s father in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.  Even though Russell is not in this new story, we know exactly what “Old Man” Jack Burton looks like.

  

The series will include at least four covers, a standard cover featuring Jack in Florida by artist Stephane Roux, a variant featuring Lo-Pan by Sam Bosma, a retro action figure variant by Michael Adams and Marco D’Alfonso, and other variants by artists Will Robson and Paul Pope.

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Stranger Things cast

Stranger Things is a rare thing among plenty of series bombarding viewers of streaming services.  It would never get accused of trying too hard.  It’s good but not great.  It features no major actors.  It has developed a cult following yet it is not produced by J.J. Abrams (think Lost, Fringe, Almost Human, Believe, Westworld).  And for all these things, it’s just what we want.  We’ve had enough of CGI and big budget explosions and special effects.  Low budget is just fine–for now.  It’s that movie you are looking for late on a Saturday night, but stretched to eight episodes long.

More series like this will make Netflix survive despite all the competition from other services.  Stranger Things is good enough–good at sci-fi and horror and coming of age retro fun–to get you to sign up with Netflix for your next binge watch session.  More important than its storytelling is how the story is told, and the efforts taken to make the series, the characters, the setting, the dialogue, all look like it was filmed in the early 1980s.  Several artists have even mocked up the series marketing material into VHS tape packaging.  Were it a movie-length feature it would probably fool many.  It’s in the same vein as Disney’s Watcher in the Woods.  Like Stephen King’s Firestarter, Stand By Me and Silver Bullet it features kids in a coming-of-age setting.  Its monster/alien horror and soundtrack (available here) reflects the look and vibe of John Carpenter movies.  The marketing screams Stephen King, especially that red-on-black title font.  And it will no doubt gin up nostalgia to spur cassette tapes of its soundtrack like Guardians of the Galaxy.

Stranger Things VHS

It’s Steven Spielberg’s E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, if the story had taken a darker turn, and very similar to Spielberg and Abrams’ Super 8 (Super 8 poster artist Kyle Lambert even created the poster for this series to further lock in the look).  Critics have picked apart odds and ends found in the background of scenes–this item didn’t exist then, etc.  But ultimately the overall feel is very right.  You’ll point to a pitcher on the table, a rug on the floor, a poster on the wall, all that you had back then.  And the season one wrap-up is as satisfying as you’re going to find in a TV series.

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mash-up kurt russell

If you’re not a Kurt Russell, please avert your eyes and come back later.

A big Kurt Russell project is coming your way this year.  Director John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China and his Escape from New York will see a dream mash-up only the way BOOM! Studios could do it.  Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York will become a six-part crossover comic book series in the Fall.

Written by Greg Pak with artwork by Daniel Bayliss, your favorite swaggering truck driver Jack Burton (played by Kurt Russell in 1986’s Big Trouble in Little China) will be teleported to the bleak future of 1997, where he meets the Man with No Name-inspired, eyepatch-wearing Snake Plissken (also played by Kurt Russell, in 1981’s Escape from New York).  Check out the two variant covers for Issue #1:

Big-Trouble-in-Little-China-01-550x835    Big-Trouble-in-Little-China-02

And here is the full poster together:

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Stevie Wayne Adrienne Barbeau
This is Stevie Wayne, on top of the world tonight and I’ll be here right up until about one o’clock.

If you ever sat around listening to the radio to answer a trivia question for a prize, or driven across town for some radio station event to get a free giveaway hat or bit of swag with the logo of your favorite station, and if you’re a big John Carpenter fan, then you might appreciate the latest T-shirt offering circulating the Wild Web this week.

John Carpenter’s 1980 horror flick The Fog was my first Rated R drive-in movie and I’ve always been a fan of the movie since, as well as the rest of Carpenter’s catalog and the remake with Tom Welling in 2005.

Adrienne Barbeau (and Selma Blair in the remake) played Stevie Wayne, DJ at the secluded K.A.B. Radio station at Spivey Point Lighthouse in Antonio Bay.  She is the first to identify the mysterious fog rolling into the bay and call out a warning to the locals and ship traffic like the Sea Grass.

Stevie Wayne remake Fog

If you’re a sucker for a good pop culture tie-in, like the “I Was There” shirts for Back to the Future Day last year, or the Quint’s Shark Hunting shirts based on the salty Jaws character, then you probably need this K.A.B. Radio shirt:

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John Carpenter Lost Themes II 2

Last February writer/director/musician John Carpenter released his first solo album of thematic music in the style of the many soundtracks he scored over his 50 years of filmmaking.  Chase themes, pulsating rampages, ethereal motifs, dark places, sustained tension, and electronic vibrations of space–we loved the evocative, unsettling, out-of-this-world sounds on the album, titled Lost Themes, reviewed here at borg.com.  Carpenter, known for his cinematic sci-fi and horror masterpieces including Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, Halloween, The Fog, Christine, The Thing, and They Live, composed 16 of the soundtracks for major films he directed.

Carpenter is releasing his second solo album, Lost Themes II, on the Sacred Bones Records label, full of even more tracks that could be scores for future–or lost–films, films only John Carpenter could make.  You can pre-order Lost Themes II at a discount now on CD here, on vinyl here, and digital here, all from Amazon.com.

John Carpenter

Preview “Distant Dream,” one of the tracks off Carpenter’s new Lost Themes II, now here:

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Venus_002_A_Main    Munchkin_013_A_Main

It’s Comic Shop Wednesday!  Haven’t been to your comic book shop lately?  We have six hi-res previews for borg.com readers courtesy of BOOM! Studios of what you’ll find in stores today–so you can see what you’re missing.

Look for Venus from writer Rick Loverd and artist Huang Danlan.  Pauline and the rest of the survivors from the Mayflower take stock of the base on Venus, but there’s a saboteur in their midst who’s sowing tension in the ranks.

We love writer Dan Abnett and artist I.N.J. Culbard’s Wild’s End: The Enemy Within.  The group of anthropomorphic townspeople is scattered in the woods of Lower Crowchurch as an alien threat returns.

EFNY_014_A_Main    Spire_006_A_Main

In The Spire from writer Simon Spurrier and artist Jeff Stokely, Meera is held by the Zoarim at their camp as part of the Pax proceedings.  But she’s not alone.

In the ongoing sequel to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York by writer Christopher Sebela and artist Maxim Simic, Snake Plisskin prepares to defend his property from the government.  At any cost.

BOOM! Box, the BOOM! Studios imprint for kids titles, has two great issues out today from Peanuts and Munchkin. 

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Halloween poster

Halloween–the 1978 movie that put both director John Carpenter and actress Jamie Lee Curtis on the map–is coming back to theaters for one night only.  The film was created for only $300,000 and premiered at Kansas City’s downtown Midland Theater 37 years ago this month and then spread by word of mouth across the country to earn $70 million and become the first modern horror blockbuster.  To illustrate the low budget, Nick Castle, the actor that played the story’s villain, Michael Myers, wore a last-minute found $2 William Shatner/Captain Kirk mask.  Now Halloween is Fathom Events’ next big Halloween event.

More than 200 theaters will air Halloween on the eve of All Hallow’s Eve (that’s the night before Halloween).  The movie, co-written by the late, great Debra Hill, will include an introduction recorded by John Carpenter.

Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween

If you make it to the screening, keep an eye out for an already well-known young actress back in 1978 named Kyle Richards, who had been a household name for her recurring role on Little House on the Prairie and the Disney film Escape to Witch Mountain, and would go on to co-star in the great ghost story Watcher in the Woods.

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Matthew Skiff poster art

Yesterday sci-fi icon (and ex-pro WWE Hall of Fame wrestler) Roddy Piper died at age 61 of a heart attack in his sleep, a great loss to his family, friends, and fans around the world.  For me, and undoubtedly thousands of others throughout this weekend, that meant my own tribute: dropping in to revisit the Blu-ray of John Carpenter’s They Live when I arrived home, the classic sci-fi masterwork starring Piper as a modern Sergio Leone-inspired drifter whose curiosity reveals the hero within.  And it means queueing up Carpenter’s soundtrack to that film in the car for the next week, including that immensely cool theme that followed Piper around that film.  Carpenter said yesterday about Piper, “Devastated to hear the news of my friend Roddy Piper’s passing today.  He was a great wrestler, a masterful entertainer and a good friend.”

I barely knew who “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was when I went to the opening of They Live back in November 1988.  When the name Roddy Piper appeared on the screen in all caps I made no connection that this was the same guy as the wrestler in the red kilt.  The trailer for They Live appeared to be typical B-movie sci-fi horror fare, yet it revealed that the film had some subliminal message concept that was intriguing.  For years my friends and family would watch the ads between movies at the Drive-In theater and wait for the furtively inserted single frames that would state in red and white “BUY” and similar sneaky words, presumably to create zombies of us all as we stumbled unwittingly to the concession stand to spend all our dollars on fresh popcorn from O’Dell’s.  So the concept was certainly worthy of a cool flick.  The movie?  It blew me away and I remember talking about it for days.  It has remained a standout among cult classics, and if I can proclaim any cult classic as worthy of repeated watching, They Live is #1.

Piper They Live

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s no better time than now.  Piper, in an incredibly underplayed performance, stars as a loner trying to keep to himself.  He is thrown into the middle of a waking-up-to-reality by a group of grassroots rebels who discover that the wealthier elements of society (plucked right out of the Reagan years) are actually hideous aliens in cloaked bodies, attempting to keep us asleep through subliminal messages in our advertising.  When our hero discovers special sunglasses and later contact lenses that show the true world, we soon learn the secret behind the plot and why this is a classic sci-fi film.  They Live also has the best of Carpenter’s soundtracks–including the repetitive theme of our hero, following him and leading us through Piper’s dark discoveries.  And just like Steve McQueen’s Bullitt is known for its famous San Francisco car chase, here They Live has a standout best fight scene, a hilariously choreographed, iconic, hand-to-hand fight scene between Piper and co-star Keith David that stretches in excess of 15 screen minutes.

Speaking of Steve McQueen, if you ever want to create a list of the coolest performances to ever appear on film, you’d be remiss not to include Piper in They Live in your deliberations.  And as cool celebrities go, it goes without saying that the fact Piper wore a kilt already makes him surpass in coolness anyone else around who hasn’t worn one.

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Lost Themes cd Carpenter

Forty seconds into “Vortex,” the opening track on John Carpenter’s new album Lost Themes, and you’re already caught up in a 1980s thriller.  You don’t know for certain who is doing the chasing and who is being chased, but you get the feeling you are the one running.  Are you Roddy Piper in They Live?  Stevie Wayne in The Fog?  Jack Crow in Vampires?

Carpenter, known for composing 16 of the soundtracks for major films he directed, has released his first solo album, on the Sacred Bones Records label, full of tracks that could be scores for future–or lost–films, films only Carpenter could make.

You’re dropped into what could only be the aftermath of Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness with the second track, “Obsidian.”  There, behind the old tenement.  Jameson Parker’s Brian Marsh awakens from a dream in the alley.  His girlfriend is back and this time she made her way through the portal of green goo into our time.  Again, it’s time to run.  And then there’s a shift.  In fact, in 8 minutes an entire story plays out.  Carpenter’s trademark pulsating synthesizer rampage and unapologetic steely trumpet solo is cheering on our hero in an honest to goodness rock ‘n’ roll hero anthem.

Prince of Darkness clip

We get some relief in “Fallen.”  Maybe Karen Allen’s Jenny Hayden is helping our lost friend as he returns from afar in a lost soundtrack to Starman?  Maybe it’s the return of The Thing or the theme of the ice cream man in Assault on Precinct 13.  Whichever, Carpenter knows the soundtrack of someone strange amongst us.  Think classic 1950s sci-fi meets the 1980s.

Halloween screencap

You can’t help but get that hollow feeling at the opening of the next track, “Domain.”  Uncertainty?  Maybe.  But it’s a trick, juxtaposed against something.  Someone hopeful, someone optimistic leads the way this time, almost in a Sam Jones Flash Gordon sci-fi/fantasy montage, replacing Eddie Mercury with our eminent director composer.  The themes here are new for Carpenter, no Snake Plissken, no Jack Burton.  This is an entirely new sound and perhaps the unmade movie he makes us want to see the most.

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They Live poster and glasses by Matthew Skiff

Sometimes you find an artist that seems to be very in sync with your interests.  If you’re into John Carpenter movies, the Twin Peaks TV series, 3D glasses, and anything that glows in the dark, then you might find yourself stumbling upon the website of artist Matthew Skiff.

Skiff has a great understanding of design, blending clever retro-style elements, eye-popping color combinations, and nifty classic poster techniques to give us an entirely new look at some genre greats.  Take for instance his poster for They Live, shown above, to be viewed with blue-red polarized 3D glasses that were included with the print.  As with Roddy Piper’s hero in the film, you need to wear glasses to see the messages hidden in plain sight.

Matthew Skiff They Live print close-up

The same technique was used for an earlier print for Twin Peaks, featuring Agent Cooper and Bob–with Bob revealing his true self to those with the 3D glasses.

Twin Peaks Matthew Skiff

Or glow-in-the-dark ink that reveals the secret of the crystal ball…

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