Book Review: Assault on the System – The Nonconformist Cinema of John Carpenter

Assault on the System: The Nonconformist Cinema of John Carpenter
Published by WK Books, 2020. 460 pages.
By Troy Howarth

The latest volume from our buddy Troy Howarth is on one of my favorite directors. Next to Romero, you’d find at least two John Carpenter’s films in my top 15 films of all time. So how could I not dive into this once I got it? Yes, Mr. Howarth is a friend of mine, full disclosure here, but I think you know me by now not to pull any punches, no matter what I’m reviewing. But honestly, I never have to worry about that with his books because they are always so enjoyable to read, always feeling like a conversation with an old friend. Filled with wonderful stories, great information, and just an easy-going way of telling us this information that it just sinks in.

After a couple of chapters introducing us to Carpenter, giving us his upbringing and background (which really shows the impact on his later life, with his love of film and music), we start to go over his film career. Starting off when he is in film school in California, we do get a lot of information about each of the projects, while Howarth throws in other information about other things that are going on at the same time. It doesn’t just cover the films he directed but the scripts that he wrote, as well as the films he almost made or was even the slightest involved with. It really does show the range that Carpenter had in the different projects that “could have been”. Continue reading

Friday Favorites: John Carpenter

Since I just started reading Troy Howarth’s latest book, Assault on the System: The Nonconformist Cinema of John Carpenter, I thought it might be an interesting (though probably an easy one to call) question to see what your favorite John Carpenter film is. Now, as I said, I know there is going to be a lot of answers for the obvious choice, which would be Halloween (1978), which is fine because you can’t be wrong in what is your personal favorite. I’m sure The Thing (1982) is going to be up there as well. But I am curious to see if there will be any other titles named, such as The Fog (1980) or maybe even In the Mouth of Madness (1995). Continue reading

Book News!

Oargentone more thing we can look forward to in 2019 is the continuing proof that print is definitely not dead. Sorry folks, but not even close. Granted, my bank account very well could be, but there are more than a few books coming out this year that I know will be must additions to my library. Not sure where I’m going to be putting them when they do arrive, or when I’ll get around to reading them…

FAB Press announced that they will be publishing the English language edition of Dario Argento’s autobiography, simply called Fear. That is the only details FAB released but since I hadn’t even heard that he was even writing an autobiography (that was actually published in 2014…thanks Troy!), I am more than a little excited about hearing his stories, right from him. I can only imagine the insights and stories we’re going to hear right from the man responsible for so many incredible pieces of cinema.

Add this to the fact that Troy Howarth’s new book, Murder By Design: The Unsane Cinema of Dario Argento, will be out in 2020, that means we’ll have a few more Argento books for the library shelves. Maybe we’ll even get to see Volume 3 in Howarth’s So Deadly, So Perverse giallo series. Positive thoughts, my fellow book fiends.

Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: Christine

christine

Christine
Released by Varèse Sarabande
18 Tracks with a Total Running Time of 34 min.
Original Music by John Carpenter in Association with Alan Howarth

 

Another classic soundtrack from Carpenter and Howarth. I don’t know how Carpenter continued to do it all those years ago, coming up with a score that was so simple and never over-the-top or intricate, but almost made them damn effective. And the score for Christine is no different.

Using just a keyboard, they once again create such an eerie score, building tension and atmosphere that some couldn’t do with a full orchestra. Even on a track like #5 Discovery, it is slow with on a few notes but is still able to make in impact, not to mention what it adds to the actual film. When you get to tracks like Moochie’s Death, we get a lot of suspense through the beating pulse along with a little melody in the background, with a few stingers here and there. Highly effective.

At the end of this month, Varèse Sarabande is releasing this on vinyl, with brand new art from Gary Pullin.