John Carpenter has been considered one of the masters of horror for decades, and this John Carpenter films list is the perfect resource for finding out which ones you’ve already seen, and which ones you need to check out.

I think it is safe to say that I am a huge fan of John Carpenter. As far as directors are concerned, he is easily one of my favorites.

I think you will find our top 20 favorite John Carpenter films below will have a little bit of everything for everyone’s taste.

Let us know what some of your favorite John Carpenter films are in the comments section at the end of this article.

Best John Carpenter Movies

This is the list of John Carpenter movies in order of best to worst with movie trailers when available.

John Carpenter is a director whose body of work has had a major influence on the film industry.

This list includes The Thing, Halloween, and many more. This list answers the questions “what are the best John Carpenter movies?”

The Thing (1982)

The Thing is a masterpiece of horror cinema, expertly crafted by director John Carpenter. The film follows a group of researchers stationed in Antarctica who discover an ancient alien creature that can mimic any living being it comes into contact with.

The tension builds slowly but steadily, as paranoia and fear grip the isolated crew.

The practical effects used to bring the horrific creature to life are still impressive even by today’s standards, and the film’s soundtrack by Ennio Morricone adds to the palpable sense of dread.

Kurt Russell delivers a standout performance as the tough and resourceful helicopter pilot MacReady, who leads the team’s efforts to survive and stop the alien threat.

The ensemble cast also shines, each member bringing a unique perspective and personality to the group dynamic.

The Thing is a masterclass in suspense and atmosphere, with a haunting and unforgettable ending that will leave you chilled to the bone.

A must-watch for horror fans and a testament to Carpenter’s skill as a filmmaker.

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The Thing [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director)
  • French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

Halloween (1978)

Halloween is a masterclass in suspense and horror. Director John Carpenter’s minimalist approach to storytelling and the haunting score make for a truly terrifying experience.

Jamie Lee Curtis shines as the iconic final girl, Laurie Strode, and Donald Pleasence delivers a chilling performance as Dr. Loomis The film’s use of shadows and POV shots keep you on the edge of your seat as you watch Michael Myers stalk his victims.

The ending leaves you with a sense of unease and the knowledge that evil never truly dies.

Halloween is a must-watch for any horror fan and a classic that has stood the test of time.

 

Halloween (35th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, P.J. Soles (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Escape From New York (1981)

Escape From New York is a true cult classic from the brilliant mind of John Carpenter.

The film takes place in a dystopian future where the entire island of Manhattan has been turned into a maximum-security prison.

The story follows the iconic anti-hero Snake Plissken, played by Kurt Russell, who is tasked with rescuing the President of the United States from the prison island.

The film is a masterclass in world-building, with every detail of the prison island carefully thought out and executed.

The gritty, dark visual style perfectly captures the desperation of the situation, and the tense, suspenseful score adds to the overall feeling of unease.

Kurt Russell’s performance as Snake Plissken is a true highlight of the film. He effortlessly exudes coolness and toughness, making him a truly unforgettable character.

The supporting cast, including Lee Van Cleef as the prison’s warden and Ernest Borgnine as a friendly cabbie, are all perfectly cast and bring a unique energy to the film.

Escape From New York is a true classic of the action genre, and a must-watch for any fan of science fiction or dystopian films.

Its influence can still be felt in popular culture today, and it remains an essential piece of cinema history.

Escape From New York
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - John Carpenter (Writer) - Larry Franco (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Big Trouble in Little China is a wild ride that takes you deep into the heart of Chinatown in San Francisco.

This classic John Carpenter film is a must-see for fans of action and adventure with a healthy dose of comedy thrown in.

Kurt Russell shines as Jack Burton, a truck driver who gets caught up in a battle between ancient Chinese sorcery and modern-day gangsters.

The supporting cast is just as memorable, with standout performances from Dennis Dun as Burton’s sidekick Wang Chi, and Kim Cattrall as the tough-talking lawyer Gracie Law.

The film’s over-the-top action sequences are a thing of beauty, with elaborate fight scenes and special effects that still hold up today.

But what sets Big Trouble in Little China apart is its sense of humor. This is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s what makes it so much fun.

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Big Trouble in Little China [Blu-ray]
  • Kurt Russell, James Hong, Kim Cattrall (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Gary Goldman (Writer) - Larry Franco (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

 

Best John Carpenter Movies

Who Is john carpenter?

John Carpenter is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, musician, editor and composer.

Although Carpenter has worked in numerous film genres, he is most commonly associated with horror and science fiction films from the 1970s and 1980s.

He spent a large part of his childhood moving around different places including Schenectady and Florida. John’s father owned a dry cleaning business.

After graduating high school, John went to college to study music at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He quickly lost interest in this field of study and began to pursue a career in cinema instead.

 

 

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

In the Mouth of Madness is a terrifying and mind-bending horror film that will leave you questioning reality long after the credits have rolled.

Directed by John Carpenter, this film follows a skeptical insurance investigator named John Trent (Sam Neill) as he delves into the disappearance of a popular horror novelist named Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow).

As Trent’s investigation progresses, he begins to uncover a series of strange and disturbing events that lead him to question his own sanity.

Through clever use of surreal imagery and mind-bending storytelling, Carpenter creates a sense of unease that permeates every scene of the film.

Neill gives a standout performance as Trent, perfectly capturing the character’s growing sense of desperation and confusion.

Prochnow is also excellent as Cane, playing the enigmatic author with a chilling intensity.

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In the Mouth of Madness [Blu-ray]
  • Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories
  • Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Michael De Luca (Writer) - Sandy King (Producer)
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Assault on Precinct 13 is a classic action-thriller that stands the test of time.

The film, directed by John Carpenter, is a tense and gripping story of a police precinct under siege by a gang of ruthless criminals.

The film is expertly crafted, with Carpenter’s signature style of tension-building and suspenseful pacing.

The cast is top-notch, led by Austin Stoker as the determined police officer, Bishop, and Darwin Joston as the unlikely hero, Napoleon Wilson.

The action is intense and violent, but never gratuitous, and the film’s climax is a masterclass in suspenseful filmmaking.

Carpenter’s use of sound and music is particularly effective, with the haunting synth score adding to the film’s already eerie atmosphere.

Assault on Precinct 13 is a must-see for fans of action and suspense, and a testament to Carpenter’s skills as a director.

It’s a gritty and thrilling ride that will leave you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Highly recommended.

Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)
  • Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk has English audio.
  • German (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

They Live (1988)

“They Live” is a cult classic that has stood the test of time as a biting commentary on consumerism, capitalism, and the media.

John Carpenter’s direction is impeccable, as he creates a gritty and dystopian world that feels all too real.

The film is anchored by a standout performance from Roddy Piper, who brings a raw intensity to his role as a drifter who stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses that reveal the true nature of the world around him.

The social commentary is razor-sharp and still relevant today, making “They Live” a must-watch for those who appreciate thought-provoking cinema.

The iconic “Obey” and “Consume” slogans have become a part of pop culture and cemented this film’s place in cinema history.

They Live [Blu-ray] [2018]
  • Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk has English audio.

Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)

Memoirs of an Invisible Man is a sci-fi comedy film that follows the life of Nick Halloway, a man who becomes invisible after a freak laboratory accident.

The film stars Chevy Chase, Daryl Hannah, and Sam Neill, and is directed by John Carpenter.

From the very beginning, Memoirs of an Invisible Man is a fun and entertaining ride. The film’s premise is intriguing and the execution is impressive.

The special effects used to create the invisible Nick are top-notch, and Chase’s performance as the invisible man is both charming and hilarious.

The film also has a great supporting cast, with Hannah playing the love interest and Neill playing the villainous scientist who wants to capture Nick and use him for his own gain.

What sets Memoirs of an Invisible Man apart from other sci-fi films is its balance of humor and action. The film never takes itself too seriously, but also delivers exciting chase scenes and tense moments.

Memoirs of an Invisible Man ( 1992 ) ( Les aventures d'un homme invisible ) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import - Italy ]
  • Memoirs of an Invisible Man ( 1992 ) ( Les aventures d'un homme invisible )
  • Memoirs of an Invisible Man ( 1992 )
  • Les aventures d'un homme invisible
  • Daryl Hannah, Sam Neill, Chevy Chase (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Memoirs of an Invisible Man ( 1992 ) ( Les aventures d'un homme...

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Ghosts of Mars is a sci-fi horror film directed by John Carpenter, known for his work in the horror genre. Set in the year 2176, the film follows a team of police officers led by Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) as they investigate a mining outpost on Mars.

However, they soon discover that the miners have been possessed by the ghosts of an ancient Martian civilization, leading to a thrilling battle for survival.

While the concept of the film is intriguing, the execution falls short.

The pacing is slow and the characters are one-dimensional, making it difficult to care about their fates.

The special effects and makeup are also lacking, leading to a lack of tension and scares.

That being said, the film does have its moments.

The action sequences are well choreographed and the soundtrack, composed by Carpenter himself, adds to the eerie atmosphere.

It’s also interesting to see how the characters adapt to the hostile Martian environment.

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Ghosts of Mars [Blu-ray]
  • The disk has English audio.
  • Ice Cube, Natasha Henstridge, Pam Grier (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Sandy King (Producer)

The Ward (2010)

The Ward is a psychological horror film that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Directed by John Carpenter, the film follows Kristen (played by Amber Heard), a young woman who is admitted to a mental institution after setting fire to a house.

As she begins to settle into her new surroundings, she starts to experience strange and terrifying occurrences that lead her to believe that there is something sinister lurking in the ward.

While the plot of The Ward may not be entirely original, Carpenter’s direction and the strong performances from the cast make it a worthwhile watch.

The film is beautifully shot, with a haunting score that adds to the overall sense of unease.

Amber Heard is particularly impressive as Kristen, conveying both vulnerability and strength as her character fights to uncover the truth about the ward.

One of the film’s strongest elements is its use of visual storytelling.

The ward itself is a character in its own right, with each room and hallway revealing more about the dark history of the institution.

The film’s climax is a tense and suspenseful sequence that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

The Ward
  • Amber Heard, Lyndsy Fonseca, Jared Harris (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Vampires (1998)

John Carpenter’s Vampires is a stylish and action-packed take on the vampire genre.

With James Woods leading the charge as the grizzled vampire hunter Jack Crow, the film is a non-stop thrill ride that never lets up.

While the plot may be a bit thin at times, Carpenter’s direction keeps things moving at a brisk pace and the action sequences are expertly choreographed.

The film also boasts some impressive practical effects and makeup work, which adds to the overall atmosphere and sense of dread.

The supporting cast is solid as well, with Daniel Baldwin providing some much-needed comic relief as Crow’s right-hand man and Sheryl Lee delivering a standout performance as the half-vampire prostitute Katrina.

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John Carpenter's Vampires [Blu-ray]
  • James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Don Jakoby (Writer) - Sandy King (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Village of the Damned (1995)

Village of the Damned is a science fiction horror film that tells the story of a small town where all the women mysteriously become pregnant and give birth to a group of eerie, white-haired children with telepathic powers.

The film is a remake of the 1960 British film of the same name, and while it stays true to the original’s premise, it lacks the same level of tension and scares.

The cinematography and visual effects are impressive, creating a creepy atmosphere that perfectly sets the tone for the film.

However, the pacing is slow at times, and the characters are not fully developed, making it hard to empathize with them.

Christopher Reeve delivers a strong performance as the town’s doctor, and Kirstie Alley is equally compelling as a government scientist trying to uncover the truth behind the children’s powers.

The child actors also deserve praise for their convincing and unsettling performances.

 

Village of the Damned (Collector's Edition)
  • Christopher Reeve, Kirstie Alley, Mark Hamill (Actors)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Escape From L.A. (1996)

Escape From L.A. is a stylish and action-packed sequel to the cult classic Escape From New York.

Set in a dystopian future, the film follows anti-hero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) as he is sent to Los Angeles, which has been turned into a maximum-security prison, to retrieve a doomsday device from a rogue scientist.

The film is loaded with over-the-top action sequences, including a memorable surfing scene, and features a cast of eclectic characters, including a transgender rights activist played by Pam Grier and a plastic surgeon turned revolutionary played by Bruce Campbell.

While the film may not be as iconic as its predecessor, it still delivers on the gritty and dark tone that fans of the franchise have come to expect.

The special effects may not hold up as well today, but the film’s self-aware humor and satirical jabs at American culture make it an entertaining watch.

John Carpenter's Escape From L.A.
  • Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk has English audio and subtitles.
  • Russell, Kurt, Keach, Stacy, Buscemi, Steve (Actors)
  • Carpenter, John (Director)
  • French, Portuguese, Spanish, English (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Someone’s Watching Me! (1978)

Someone’s Watching Me! is a suspenseful thriller directed by the master of horror himself, John Carpenter.

The film follows Leigh Michaels, a successful television producer who moves to Los Angeles and finds herself the target of a stalker who watches her every move.

The tension in this film is palpable, amplified by Carpenter’s signature use of music to build suspense.

Lauren Hutton delivers a solid performance as Leigh Michaels, a strong and independent woman who refuses to be intimidated by her stalker.

The supporting cast also delivers, with Adrienne Barbeau playing the role of Michaels’ best friend and David Birney as her love interest.

What sets Someone’s Watching Me! apart from other thrillers is its attention to detail.

The film accurately portrays the fear and paranoia that comes with being stalked, and Carpenter’s direction keeps viewers on edge throughout the entire film.

 

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Someone's Watching Me! [Blu-ray]
  • Lauren Hutton, Adrienne Barbeau, Charles Cyphers (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - John Carpenter (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Elvis (1979)

Elvis is a biographical musical drama that chronicles the life and career of the legendary musician Elvis Presley, played by Kurt Russell.

Directed by John Carpenter, this film offers a fascinating insight into the King of Rock and Roll’s turbulent journey to fame and fortune.

Russell’s portrayal of Elvis is nothing short of mesmerizing, capturing the essence of his charm, charisma, and talent.

The musical performances are outstanding, featuring some of Presley’s greatest hits, including “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

What sets this film apart from other biopics is its attention to detail and authenticity.

The costumes, sets, and locations all feel true to the era, transporting the audience back to the 1950s and 60s.

While the film doesn’t shy away from Elvis’s darker moments, such as his addiction to prescription drugs and his turbulent relationships, it ultimately celebrates his legacy as a trailblazer in the music industry.

Prince of Darkness (1987)

Prince of Darkness is a horror film that explores the concept of evil as a physical force that can be studied and potentially harnessed.

Directed by John Carpenter, this movie is a slow-burn that builds tension through its eerie score and unsettling atmosphere.

The story follows a group of scientists who are brought together to investigate a mysterious container found in an abandoned church.

As they delve deeper into the container’s contents, they begin to uncover a sinister force that threatens to consume them all.

The standout performances in this film come from Donald Pleasence as the priest who has been guarding the container for years, and Victor Wong as the leader of the research team.

The rest of the cast deliver serviceable performances but are not particularly memorable.

The special effects are impressive for their time, and the use of practical effects adds to the film’s creepy vibe.

However, the pacing is slow in parts, and the ending may not satisfy everyone.

Prince of Darkness Blu-Ray | John Carpenter's | Region B
  • Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Jameson Parker (Actor)
  • John Carpenter (Director)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Christine (1983)

Christine is a hauntingly captivating film that will leave you at the edge of your seat.

Based on the novel by Stephen King, this film follows the life of teenager Arnie Cunningham (played by Keith Gordon) who becomes obsessed with his new possession, a 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine.

The film’s director, John Carpenter, does a fantastic job of building up the tension and creating an eerie atmosphere that keeps you engaged throughout.

The cinematography and visual effects used in the film are stunning and add to the overall feeling of dread and horror.

The standout performance in the film comes from Harry Dean Stanton, who plays Detective Rudolph Junkins.

His character adds a layer of depth to the story and provides an anchor for the audience to connect with.

Christine is a well-crafted horror film that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

It explores themes of obsession, possession, and the power of the human psyche.

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Christine [Blu-ray]
  • Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Harry Dean Stanton (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Richard Kobritz (Producer)
  • Thai, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Japanese, English (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

Starman (1984)

Starman is a breathtaking sci-fi romance that will leave you feeling both emotional and exhilarated.

Directed by John Carpenter and starring Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen, this film tells the story of an alien who crash-lands on Earth and takes on the form of a deceased human to travel back to his home planet.

Bridges delivers a stunning performance as the alien, exuding a childlike innocence that is both charming and heartbreaking.

Allen’s portrayal of a grieving widow who finds herself inexplicably drawn to this alien stranger is equally impressive, showcasing her range as an actress.

The film’s special effects are also noteworthy, particularly in the scenes where the alien demonstrates his otherworldly abilities.

The score by composer Jack Nitzsche perfectly complements the film’s ethereal tone, adding an extra layer of emotional depth to each scene.

 

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Starman - Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]
  • Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Bruce A. Evans (Writer) - Larry J. Franco (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

The Fog (1980)

The Fog is a classic horror film that perfectly captures the eerie atmosphere and suspenseful storytelling that the genre is known for.

Directed by John Carpenter, the film takes place in a small coastal town where a mysterious fog rolls in, bringing with it vengeful ghosts seeking revenge for a past wrongdoing.

The cinematography in The Fog is striking, with the use of shadows and darkness creating a palpable sense of dread.

The practical effects used to bring the ghosts to life are also impressive, adding to the film’s overall creepiness.

The cast of The Fog is also worth noting, with standout performances from Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau, and Hal Holbrook.

Their characters are well-developed and add an emotional depth to the film.

 

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The Fog [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - Debra Hill (Producer)
  • English, English (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

Dark Star (1974)

Dark Star is a cult classic that deserves more recognition for its quirky and unique approach to science fiction.

Directed by John Carpenter, the film follows a group of astronauts on a mission to destroy unstable planets using artificially intelligent bombs.

However, as the mission progresses, the crew members begin to experience bizarre and surreal events that test their sanity and their mission objectives.

What makes Dark Star stand out is its blend of humor and philosophical musings on the nature of existence.

The crew members are not your typical stoic spaceers, but rather a ragtag group of misfits who have been cooped up together for too long.

Their interactions witty and relatable, making the audience care about their plight even as the situation becomes increasingly absurd.

The special effects may be dated, but they still hold up surprisingly well considering the film’s low budget.

The cinematography is inventive and plays with light and shadow to create an eerie and otherworldly atmosphere.

Dark Star
  • Dark Star ( 1974 ) ( John Carpenter's Dark Star )
  • Dark Star ( 1974 )
  • John Carpenter's Dark Star
  • Andreijah Pahich, Carl Duniholm, Brian Narelle (Actors)
  • John Carpenter (Director) - J. Stein Kaplan (Producer)

 

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