American pioneer John Carpenter has created multiple noteworthy projects over the course of his fascinating career. Ranging from popular hits such as Halloween to existential masterpieces like the sci-fi gem They Live, Carpenter’s works have come to be recognised as bonafide cult classics after much-needed re-evaluations due to their initial failures.
In recent years, Carpenter has focused on his parallel career as a composer and has released many studio albums including one last year titled Lost Themes III: Alive After Death. While his last directorial effort came in 2010 with The Ward, Carpenter has played an active role in the maintenance of the Halloween franchise by coming on board as an executive producer for Halloween Kills.
Carpenter is primarily celebrated for his achievements in the world of horror cinema and as is natural, a lot of pioneering horror films have influenced him on his own journey – including the likes of Night Of The Living Dead and The Exorcist. However, there is one Japanese film that had such an impact on him that he went on to Animal Planet to discuss its themes and techniques.
For an episode of Animal Planet’s interesting show Animal Icons in 2005, Carpenter was invited to talk about one of his favourite films of all time. Animal Icons focused on the depiction of animals in popular culture, featuring expert discussions revolving around creatures such as the shark from Jaws and the various entities that inhabited the Star Wars universe among others.
During Carpenter’s appearance on Animal Icons, he explained why Ishiro Honda’s original 1954 Godzilla was so important to him. “It inspired every kid in that era who had a camera to make movies like it,” Carpenter claimed while adding that he used a monster figure to animate his own monster project after seeing the film for the first time.
Honda’s Godzilla is one of the towering works in the history of sci-fi filmmaking, with many other auteurs like Quentin Tarantino citing it as a personal favourite. Unlike its modern successors, Honda managed to use the allegory of a giant monster to launch an incisive commentary on the horrors of the Second World War as well and the fear of an impending nuclear holocaust.
Watch John Carpenter’s appearance on Animal Planet below.