One of our best living filmmakers is John Carpenter. Or, if you're Rotten Tomatoes, rest in peace you sweet baby angel.
John Carpenter is not dead, but Rotten Tomatoes accidentally tweeted out a past-tense look back at his career using the phrasing "John Carpenter would have been 70 years old today..."
Oops. They even picked the worst photo of Carpenter known to exist.
The article it actually links to knows the horror master is still alive and kicking, so someone managing Rotten Tomatoes' socials made a boo-boo.
But since it's John Carpenter's birthday I had a question I proposed to Twitter... This fun exercise is a Sophie's Choice of sorts. Carpenter has made a huge amount of great films. Not just good. Flat out great. So, I put this out there. You get to pick one of his films, only one, and from this moment on you can watch it as many times as you want until the day you die. But you never ever get to rewatch any of his other films. Which film do you choose?
There are a few obvious contenders. Of course there's his most famous film, a movie that defined a genre, setting a template that still exists in the horror genre today. Naturally I'm talking about Halloween.
Halloween still holds up and is on regular rotation in my Halloween season playlist every year. Nothing quite gets me in the mood for my favorite holiday than Carpenter's film. That score is an all-timer and instantly sets the mood.
It wouldn't be my pick, though. I'd miss it terribly, but it wouldn't be my choice.
The clear winner of the informal Twitter poll was The Thing. That's hard to argue against. The Thing is a masterpiece of paranoia, suspense and just overall badassery. Boasting some of the best practical effects ever captured on celluloid (courtesy of the great Rob Bottin), The Thing is probably the best movie Carpenter has ever made, but again... it wouldn't be my choice.
Don't get me wrong, The Thing is one of the most re-watchable movies ever and I'd be gutted to never get the chance to screen it again, but it was another Kurt Russell/John Carpenter collaboration that jumped immediately to mind when I cooked up this rather evil movie geek hypothetical.
My desert island John Carpenter movie would be Big Trouble In Little China. There are a few key reasons behind my logic here. One, the movie's the most fun thing Carpenter ever did. From the first frame to the last it's a quick-witted, sharp-tongued, visual feast. Secondly it'd never get old. I could watch Kurt Russell as Jack Burton for decades. He's so earnest and alpha and teensy bit dumb. There's something amazing about watching Jack Burton bumble his way through events he can't explain.
And that brings us to the real the reason Big Trouble In Little China is my choice. It's singular. The Thing is a masterpiece, but there are other great paranoid thrillers and visceral effects-driven horror movies. Starman is incredibly heartfelt and touching, but there are other (better) friendly alien visiting earth movies. Escape From New York is incredible, but you can always go for Mad Max if you want an anti-hero in a crazy post-apocalyptic landscape.
But there is nothing like Big Trouble In Little China. There would be no way for me to scratch that itch should I never get to watch it again.
So even though I'm one of the most vocal defenders of In the Mouth of Madness and Prince of Darkness and have seen Halloween, EFNY, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog and They Live dozens of times each, Big Trouble In Little China is my pick.
It's a testament to just how amazing John Carpenter is as a filmmaker that there are so many incredible options.
Which one would you choose?