John Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy

January 11, 2010 in Inquisitor News, Lovecraft News

American film director, screenwriter, producer and composer, John Carpenter, has made great contributions to the horror and science fiction genres in the past 30 years. Beginning with his low budget classic that started the slasher genre, “Halloween” and his Lovecraftian ode and career starter for actor Kurt Russell, “The Thing”, Carpenter has created some of the most horrific and powerful horror and science fiction films in America. You’ll need to sleep with the hid lights on after these movies.

After the success of “Halloween”, Carpenter had the time, money and creative power to pursue a dream of creating a trilogy of films loosely connected by their H.P. Lovecraft influence and their apocalyptic storylines. The first in this trilogy was “The Thing,” a loose remake of the 1951 film “The Thing from Another World,” with Carpenter’s version much darker and much more horrific. The story of a US Antarctic research station that comes face to face with cosmic terror was more based on Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” than the 1951 film. Released at the same time as Spieldberg’s “E.T.” the film did not do well at first release but has since found a new cult fandom after video release.

Carpenter’s second film in the trilogy, “Prince of Darkness,” deals with the coming of the Anti-Christ, who has been long gestating in a cylinder in the basement of a Catholic church. A group of PHD students and their philosophical professor come together to stop the evil from coming forth and destroying the world. Another unsuccessful film commercially for Carpenter, since then it has received much more kind reviews, some even calling it a lost classic and a great film at evoking Lovecraftian cosmic dread.

The last film in the series is “In the Mouth of Madness”, released in 1994 and starring Sam Neill of “Event Horizon” and “Jurassic Park” fame. The most Lovecraftian of Carpenter’s films, “In the Mouth of Madness” is about a private investigator that goes mad after reading the novels of a powerfully successful horror author named Sutter Cane. Cane, loosely based on Lovecraft and Stephen King, is revealed to be a pawn of evil whose novels are a way of opening a gateway to hell.

Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy is deserving of a newfound look and criticism and should be considered among the great American film trilogies.

Alan McGee is a freelance writer from MN.