What Are Horror Master John Carpenter's Favorite Films?

Though director John Carpenter might enjoy making horror flicks, his cinematic diet surprisingly doesn't have as much blood and guts.

John Carpenter has spent his career scaring the bejeezus out of movie-goers, and since it's almost Halloween, it seems right to talk about the films that inspired him to make films that helped contribute to one of the most beloved horror subgenres in cinema. In the video below, Fandor has put together a list of the director's favorite films, but interestingly enough, you're not going to see a whole lot of blood, butcher's knives, or Captain Kirk death masks in the films that shaped Carpenter as a filmmaker. However, that doesn't mean the films on his list aren't dark and twisted, as you'll soon see.

There are a lot of interesting things about this list, but the one thing that sticks out specifically is that it's diverse. It's got some iconic films from different genres. It's international. Antonioni's on it. Every director on there is an absolute master. The one thing it doesn't have, that you might expect, is a single horror film. Not one. That doesn't mean Carpenter's not a fan of horror, it just means that this selection specifically speaks to his philosophy and mindset as a filmmaker. He likes Vertigo and Blow-Up because of their dark, menacing tones. He even calls Hitchcock's classic a "perfect nightmare." Furthermore, his comments about each film reveals how they inspired him, revealing how director Howard Hawks played a pivotal role in his formative years as a young filmmaker.

Here are all of the films mentioned in the video.

  • Vertigo (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
  • Blow-Up (dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
  • Only Angels Have Wings (dir. Howard Hawks, 1939)
  • Rio Bravo (dir. Howard Hawks, 1959)
  • Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles, 1941)

Your Comment


I need to update some films.

October 16, 2017 at 1:45AM, Edited October 16, 1:45AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

Great picks, interesting though that the man known as the "Master of Horror" had no horror films in his top 5.

January 24, 2018 at 1:25PM

Julian Pope
Film Historian

Very Nice picks!!!

January 31, 2018 at 10:34PM

Leona Masoi
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