Book Review: "On Set With John Carpenter"
- by Ninja Ross, 5 November 2014
John Carpenter is one of the most influential directors in the movie business, especially when it comes to horror. Movies like "Halloween" and "The Thing" are some of the most easily recognisable most influential movies in the genre.
The colour photos are few and far between, but they offer a change of pace throughout the book. Not that it’s needed, but it is fantastic.
The book isn’t all about the photos, of course. While they're a joy to look at, they are also accompanied by interesting little anecdotes and facts about the movies. Some of it is just praising Carpenter’s skill. Rightfully so! But it does seem to take up a bit of room that could be better served with another story or photograph of Kurt freaking Russell.
But, for the most part, the text is a joy to read and helps you gain a better understanding of how Carpenter and his actors worked. The book is full of interesting stories! Isaac Hayes nearly ran people over. Kurt Russell wore a cowboy getup to the set of The Fog. There’s a lot of different stuff in there.
The only downside of the book is that the title “On Set With John Carpenter” does kind of suggest it’s going to be a more definitive Carpenter book. No sign of The Thing or Big Trouble in Little China! But it is a definitive book featuring Gottlieb-Walker’s work with Carpenter. Regardless of the title and what’s suggested, it’s still a gorgeous book and is well worth your money.
But this is a book about pictures. Let’s look at some pictures! PICTURES!
[Editor's Note: Please keep in mind that these are our photographs of a big, beautiful, glossy photobook. Crappy photographs. While our photos of it are not great, keep in mind that the actual book looks gorgeous]
Here we have Kurt Russell as Snake Plisskin. If this hasn’t sold you the book, you might as well just leave right now. You’re not wanted here.
Here’s Gloria Gifford in Halloween II. As detailed in the accompanying quote from Gifford, she was the first black actress to be one of the major characters in a horror movie.
Sometimes Jamie Lee Curtis has a serious face when she holds a knife. Sometimes she has the knife because there is cake and this makes Jamie Lee Curtis a happy Jamie Lee Curtis.
This here is Lee Van Cleef as Hauk in Escape from New York. According to Carpenter, Cleef was a big fan of alcohol and keeping loaded guns in his house. Cleef was awesome.
But that doesn’t stop Kurt Russell. Nothing stops Kurt Russell.
This is Gottlieb-Walker herself trying out the Panaglide camera.
The Fog had a 1.1 million dollar budget, which is three times the cost of Halloween. Rightfully so - boats are expensive. Some of the movie was filmed just a few miles away from where Hitchcock shot “The Birds.”
Debra Hill (to whom the book is dedicated), Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh on the set of The Fog. Debra Hill produced Halloween 1 and 2, The Fog and Escape from New York, among other Carpenter classics.
As you can see, the book looks incredible and is full of fun facts and quotes from cast, crew and Carpenter himself. It’s an essential book for any horror fan’s collection. Heck, you should buy it just for the excellent photography. You don’t have to be a horror or John Carpenter fan to enjoy the work in this book.
You can buy "On Set with John Carpenter" on the Titan Books website.