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John Carpenter names his five favourite horror films of all time

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With an incomparable effect on the legacy of 20th-century horror, John Carpenter’s knack for cult filmmaking allowed films such as Halloween, The Thing, The Fog and Village of the Damned easily suffuse into the mainstream conscience. 

Remembered for his ongoing Halloween franchise featuring a town as defiantly postcard-American as David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, John Carpenter’s film brought a sense of unease to every small town U.S suburb—suggesting something fantastically abnormal could be lurking in the shadows. Setting the standard for modern horror cinema, Carpenter’s film is underscored by his own, timeless creeping score. A synth-led nightmare that has you instinctively checking over your shoulder.

Halloween Kills from David Gordon Green is the 11th sequel to John Carpenter’s iconic original, released in 2021 starring the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer and Thomas Mann. Whilst in the process of promoting the film, John Carpenter revealed to streaming platform Le Cinema Club his top five horror films of all time, including classics of Hollywood’s Golden Era as well as a few modern staples. 

The 50 greatest horror films of all time

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Carpenter revealed his first choice is the iconic Universal horror film, The Mummy, directed by Terence Fisher in 1959, not to be confused with the modern remakes, whilst his second pick is the influential 1973 classic The Exorcist from William Friedkin. His list also included Dario Argento’s Giallo horror Suspiria, alongside James Whales’ Frankenstein, and finally The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directed by Tobe Hooper. 

Elaborating on a couple of his choices, he called William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, “the devil incarnate” and also praised Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as “a very creepy film”.

Well-known as ‘The master of horror’, there are few genre directors with the same industry clout as John Carpenter, having influenced much of late 20th-century filmmaking with films like Halloween, Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China.

John Carpenter’s five favourite horror films:

  • The Mummy (Terence Fisher, 1959)
  • The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
  • Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)
  • Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)

When speaking about The Exorcist, Carpenter once said: “The first time I saw it, I thought, in order to be really effective, this movie requires a belief in a higher power. But since then I’ve come to appreciate it just for what it is. It’s got some pretty great scenes in it.

“I watched it again recently and was surprised by how intense it is. The things that they did back then, with this little girl, they broke a bunch of taboos, my god. It’s pretty damn good.”

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