Throughout the decades, John Carpenter has made a name for himself as the director behind some of the best horror and sci-fi films of all time. From Halloween (1978) and Big Trouble in Little China (1986) to The Thing(1982) and The Fog (1980), Carpenter’s name has become synonymous with suspense, terror and the macabre.

In this post, I am providing a list of all Carpenter’s movies through the decades. From his first release in the 1970s, to his most recent big screen picture in the 2010s.

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The 1970s

After a number of shorts in the 1960s (Revenge of the Colossal Beasts (1962), Captain Voyeur (1969) etc), Carpenter directed his first feature film – Dark Star (1974). From here, Carpenter directed Assault on Precinct 13(1976) and arguably his most famous movie, Halloween (1978).

The director then rounded out the decade with two television movies – the thriller, Someone’s Watching Me (1978) and the biopic, Elvis (1979)

Carpenter’s movies from the 1970s are as follows:

  • Dark Star (1974)
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
  • Halloween (1978)
  • Someone’s Watching Me (1978)
  • Elvis (1979)

The 1980s

Moving into the 1980s, Carpenter directed some of his most celebrated movies, including Escape from New York(1981) and They Live (1988). These two films alone have become fan favourites and rank high amongst the list of the director’s most memorable works.

Carpenter’s films from the 1980s include:

  • The Fog (1980)
  • Escape from New York (1981)
  • The Thing (1982)
  • Christine (1983)
  • Starman (1984)
  • Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
  • Prince of Darkness (1987)
  • They Live (1988)
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The 1990s

Image: ©Universal Pictures

Into the 1990s, and Carpenter continued to deliver a succession of films beginning with the… er… comedy(?), Memoirs of An Invisible Man (1992). This was followed by the TV movie, Body Bags (1993), which Carpenter co-directed with Tobe Hooper.

In total, John Carpenter would direct six pictures during the 1990s, keeping him very busy. But the ‘90s would be his last ‘big’ decade as a director, with less feature films arriving in the years that followed.

John Carpenter’s films from the 1990s include:

  • Memoirs of An Invisible Man (1992)
  • Body Bags (1993)
  • In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
  • Village of the Damned (1995)
  • Escape from L.A. (1996)
  • Vampires (1998)

The 2000s

Image: ©Screen Gems

During the ‘00s only one movie was directed by John Carpenter, the ill-received Ghosts of Mars (2001). The movie was neither a critical or commercial success.

Instead of continuing with film, Carpenter instead directed two episodes of the anthology show, Masters of Horror. The episodes included Cigarette Burns and Pro-Life.

As noted above, the only John Carpenter film of the 2000s, was:

  • Ghosts of Mars (2001)
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The 2010s

The 2010s followed suit with the 2000s, with Carpenter only directing one feature film in this decade. The film was The Ward (2010) – a horror/thriller starring Amber Heard.

Outside of film directing, the 2010s saw Carpenter revisit some of the music he created for his movies. Through his music he directed three musical shorts: Distant Dream (2016), Escape From New York (2016), and Christine (2017).

As mentioned above, the sole film from 2010 is:

  • The Ward (2010)

Recap

OK, so those are the Carpenter films by the decades, but if you simply want a list of all his movies, here is a list of all the films directed by John Carpenter:

  • Dark Star (1974)
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
  • Halloween (1978)
  • Someone’s Watching Me (1978)
  • Elvis (1979)
  • The Fog (1980)
  • Escape from New York (1981)
  • The Thing (1982)
  • Christine (1983)
  • Starman (1984)
  • Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
  • Prince of Darkness (1987)
  • They Live (1988)
  • Memoirs of An Invisible Man (1992)
  • Body Bags (1993)
  • In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
  • Village of the Damned (1995)
  • Escape from L.A. (1996)
  • Vampires (1998)
  • Ghosts of Mars (2001)
  • The Ward (2010)
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So, which is the best John Carpenter movie? For me, Halloween is my personal favourite, although The FogThe Thing, and They Live rank pretty high too. 

My least favourite films include Memoirs of An Invisible ManGhosts of Mars and The Ward. Personally, I recommend avoiding these three, unless you’re desperate to watch them.

But what about you? In your opinion, what are the best (and not-so great) entries on the list?

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I hope this post on the movies of John Carpenter has proved useful. For more posts, check out one of the recommended reads below.

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