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Image Entertainment presents
John Carpenter: The Man and His Movies (2000)

"It made everyone realize that there was money in them thar slasher hills."
- Mark Kermode

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: March 23, 2004

Stars: John Carpenter, Trish de Spon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, George Romero, Adrienne Barbeau, Peter Fonda
Other Stars: Nick Castle, John Longenecker, Mark Kermode, Debra Hill, Alan Howarth, Peter Jason, Alice Cooper, Stacy Keach
Director: Garry S. Grant

Manufacturer: Deluxe
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence in film clips)
Run Time: 00h:58m:54s
Release Date: March 23, 2004
UPC: 014381045123
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Few directors have had as great an influence on the course of the horror film in particular as has John Carpenter. With the explosion of Halloween, one of the most successful independent films ever made, Carpenter started a binge of low-budget horror films as well as launching a career that, while sometimes uneven, has usually been interesting.

This documentary traces Carpenter's works from his student films and the feature that evolved from them, Dark Star, through Assault on Precinct 13, to the first two Halloween films. Particular emphasis is given to the modern classics The Thing and They Live, though somewhat short shrift is given to Carpenter's 1990s work, in which he has often been accused of sleepwalking through the direction.

Quite a few notables from Carpenter's past make an appearance, including Jamie Lee Curtis, who owes her career to Carpenter, and Kurt Russell, who owes as similar debt for his revivified career. Two of his past romantic interests, producer Debra Hill and star Adrienne Barbeau also check in with their take on Carpenter; Hill in particular still has a palpable air of having been betrayed by Carpenter, although the principals refrain from slinging any dirt. Alan Howarth also leads an all-too-brief discussion of Carpenter's musical compositions for his films.

The documentary is put together in pretty standard talking head/film clip alternation with a languid voiceover by Trish de Spon. There's thus little visual interest or flair to the proceedings, though the content is interesting. Particularly noteworthy are the discussions of how to deal with low budgets and nonetheless create interesting setpieces, and the origins of Carpenter's obsession with the films of Howard Hawks. But in the end this is a fairly light-on-content exercise that doesn't ask many hard questions.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The picture quality is dependent on the sources; the interviews are colorful and detailed, while the film clips tend to be rather blurry and soft. The clips are, however, in proper aspect ratio and presented in anamorphic widescreen, so that's certainly a positive one doesn't usually see in such director documentaries. The transfer seems quite fine, making the most of what there is in the source. Little artifacting or edge enhancement is visible.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 track has a decent amount of surround activity. The film clips have very good bass, and Carpenter's music comes through very nicely indeed. The sound is reasonably clean, though again it's dependent in part on the quality of the original clips.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The disc is quite barebones. Other than decent chaptering, there's nothing here at all.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

An acceptable look at the major works of John Carpenter, but probably a rental for most fans.


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