Photo of John Carpenter John Carpenter

Enthralled by science fiction and horror films as a boy, John Carpenter -- born Jan. 16, 1948, in Carthage, N.Y. -- began shooting his own 8mm action flicks at age 8. By the time he was in graduate school at the University of Southern California, he had started work on what would become his first feature, the sci-fi send-up Dark Star (1974).

Carpenter followed up with the 1976 thriller Assault on Precinct 13, which flopped commercially but earned critical acclaim in Europe. Two years later, he was offered a chance to helm an indie film about a babysitter killer: That picture -- Halloween -- became a blockbuster, introducing the world to Carpenter's comic-book style, fiendish pacing and mastery of action and suspense.

In the ensuing years, Carpenter has proved one of Hollywood's great genre directors with movies such as Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982) and They Live (1988).

John Carpenter in They Live

They Live

1988 R

In this consumer culture parody, professional wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper plays an unemployed working stiff who inadvertently finds a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the world as it truly is. Billboards carry subliminal messages such as "Submit to Authority," and yuppies are actually aliens who are bent on subduing the human race. Before you can say, "Die, yuppie scum!" Piper grabs a gun and starts blasting.

  • John Carpenter in The Thing The Thing
  • John Carpenter in Starman Starman
  • John Carpenter in Dark Star: Director's Cut Dark Star: Director's Cut
  • John Carpenter in The Fog The Fog
  • John Carpenter in Christine Christine
  • John Carpenter in Halloween Halloween
  • John Carpenter in Big Trouble in Little China Big Trouble in Little China
  • John Carpenter in Prince of Darkness Prince of Darkness
  • John Carpenter in Elvis Elvis
  • John Carpenter in Assault on Precinct 13 Assault on Precinct 13
  • John Carpenter in Escape from New York Escape from New York
  • John Carpenter in In the Mouth of Madness In the Mouth of Madness
  • John Carpenter in The Ward The Ward
  • John Carpenter in Someone's Watching Me Someone's Watching Me
  • John Carpenter in Village of the Damned Village of the Damned
  • John Carpenter in Escape from L.A. Escape from L.A.
  • John Carpenter in Vampires Vampires
  • John Carpenter in Ghosts of Mars Ghosts of Mars
  • John Carpenter in Dark Star: Theatrical Cut Dark Star: Theatrical Cut
  • John Carpenter in Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns
  • John Carpenter in John Carpenter: Pro-Life John Carpenter: Pro-Life
  • John Carpenter in Memoirs of an Invisible Man Memoirs of an Invisible Man
  • John Carpenter in 100 Years of Horror 100 Years of Horror
  • John Carpenter in The American Nightmare The American Nightmare
  • John Carpenter in Starz Inside: Bloodsucking Cinema Starz Inside: Bloodsucking Cinema
  • John Carpenter in The Fearmakers Collection The Fearmakers Collection
  • John Carpenter in Starz Inside: Fantastic Flesh Starz Inside: Fantastic Flesh
  • John Carpenter in Hollywood's Greatest Villains Hollywood's Greatest Villains
  • John Carpenter in Nightmares in Red, White and Blue Nightmares in Red, White and Blue
  • John Carpenter in Tales from the Script Tales from the Script