Every John Carpenter Horror Movie, Ranked (According to IMDb)

A look at every John Carpenter horror film and its IMDb rating reveals the ups and downs of the director's influential career thus far.

Many of John Carpenter's best horror films are considered among the best horror films of all time. From Halloween to They Live, the director's heyday saw him innovate one of filmmaking's most important genres, only to see his career go downhill.

Looking at every John Carpenter horror film and its IMDb score shows the ups and downs of one of the most revered film directors of the 20th century, and how even a master of one genre can There are some names that fail.

11/11 Ghost Of Mars (2001) – 4.9

Available to stream on Tubi

According to IMDb voters, Ghost of Mars is both John Carpenter's worst horror film and his worst movie. While fans can rank Carpenter's filmography in various ways, it's no surprise that it ended up being last on IMDb.

The plot and production design in the film are typical of low-budget sci-fi films, but Ghosts of Mars sadly lacks enough of the ingenuity and charm that make films like Carpenter's Escape from New York so popular. The framing of the story is confusing, the world it's set in is underdeveloped, and despite a strong cast, the characters fail to impress. ice Cube is charming as an actor, but he fails to transform into a snake-like Prisken type in this movie. Likewise, Carpenter, known for his knack for genre-making, couldn't quite reconcile the mix of noir, action, horror, sci-fi, and Western tropes in this story of cops and gangsters on Mars battling a possessed The story of the colonists fighting.

10/11 The Ward (2010) – 5.5

Available to rent on Google Play

John Carpenter's final film to date, and the only film he directed after Ghost of Mars flopped at the box office, was not as well received as the director's previous film, but still fell short The state I have always hoped for is because of his fans.

Set almost entirely in a women's ward of a mental hospital in the 1960s, the film is amusingly similar to Carpenter's The Thing, the only film in his oeuvre to feature a predominantly female cast. Still, the psychological horror of Haunted Ward failed to appeal to even long-time fans of the director's films, lacking the sort of weird and grotesque ideas and rather conventional twists that made his earlier films famous.

9/11 Village Of The Damned (1995) – 5.6

Available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video

Although the original 1960 adaptation of John Windham's novel The Midwich Cuckoos was John Carpenter's remake is highly rated on IMDb, but unfortunately, given how entrenched the film is, it was the last theatrical release of Christopher Reeve's career, and Capone Te's film, made only the previous year, was voted one of his best ever.

Classic tale of a small town controlled by a group of eerie kids born into mysterious circumstances with superpowers. Sadly, like The Ward, it contains so little of Carpenter's signature that it doesn't feel like one of his best films.

8/11 Vampires (1998) – 6.1

Available to stream on Netflix

A rare success in Carpenter's later directorial career, Vampire starred James Woods as the leader of a band of vampire hunters who must hunt down and fight a powerful adversary that killed most of his team.

While the characters lack the kind of originality seen in John Carpenter's best films, there's still plenty of gore to keep audiences entertained throughout, and the film's response was strong enough to spawn two direct-to-production into a sequel to the video.

7/11 Christine (1983) – 6.7

Available to stream on Pluto TV and Hulu

Adapted from Stephen King's novel of the same name, Kristen is not one of the two horror icons' best-known works, but it is considered one of the better films based on King's work.

A famous cursed car catches the eye of a bullied young man who longs to grow into his confidant. The dark influence it has on his development makes for an interesting character arc, but the real horror comes from the fact that Kristen actually comes back to life and kills for himself. Making cars scary is no easy feat, and Carpenter's skill at creating atmosphere pays off here.

6/11 Prince Of Darkness (1987) – 6.7

Available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video

John Carpenter combines scientific and supernatural themes with this utterly unique siege film, which sees a group of researchers study what they believe to be a physical manifestation of the devil as they are surrounded by a group of people possessed by the entity.

Many of these same themes and ideas would appear years later in Carpenter's Ghost of Mars with little success, but they endure as truly creepy concepts in The Dark Prince, That's thanks to the limited scope of Carpenter's still-applied films at this point in his career. The film is the spiritual successor to The Thing and the second installment in what became known as the director's Apocalypse trilogy, so while it may be the lowest ranked 3, it should still be considered essential viewing for John Carpenter fans.

5/11 The Fog (1980) – 6.8

Available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video

While John Carpenter did not return to direct Halloween II, he did re-team with Jamie Lee Curtis for one of his finest '80s films. The Fog tells an original ghost story set in a sleepy coastal town in California, centered around a group of vengeful spirits who only appear in the strange and supernatural fog.

Still following the same low-budget approach that made the original Halloween a hit, The Mist was one of the rare films in Carpenter's career to be well received by audiences, and later to elevate its status and turn it into a A cult film. A remake of the film, released in 2005, was not a hit, though it remained a financial success.

4/11 In The Mouth Of Madness (1994) – 7.1

Available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video

Voted by voters on IMDb as the last truly great film of John Carpenter's directorial career thus far, Mouth of Madness is the final film in the Apocalypse trilogy and lives up to the other entries Crazy ideas and designs showcased in the work.

Plot follows an insurance investigator looking for The missing horror writers and their final manuscripts. The puzzling journey clearly alludes to the work of H.P. Lovecraft as well as the genre of horror popularized by Stephen King, and while it doesn't satirize or really comment on those styles, is considered one of John Carpenter's best horror films for its increasingly surreal atmosphere.

3/11 They Live (1988) – 7.2

Available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video

A scathing satire on 80s consumerism that feels so ahead of its time even today, their lives revolve around an alien conspiracy in Los Angeles that can only be seen by wearing special sunglasses.

The film is funny and insightful, and it contains one of the best fight scenes in film history. The fact that this story's message about the relationship between capitalism and the media has become more relevant to everyday life since its release is a testament to Carpenter's skill as a writer and director.

2/11 Halloween (1978) – 7.7

Available to stream on Redbox

One of the most influential horror films of all time and one of the most important in the evolution of the horror genre, Halloween not only started the franchise, but also had many imitators with long-running franchises of their own.

A Simple Story About the Fugitive Michael Miles and his old hometown murder spree has captivated audiences with its haunting atmosphere and mysterious killer since its release. Sequels and remakes have been in line since the early '80s, with a new trilogy of sequels starring the original film's lead Jamie Lee Curtis and wrapping up in 2022 with a Halloween twist. As is often the case with horror franchises, though, none of the films ranked as high as the first film.

1/11 The Thing (1982) – 8.2

Available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video

John Carpenter's The Thing was critically critical upon its release, has since been widely re-evaluated, and is now widely regarded as one of the best horror films of all time.

The story follows a group of people at a research station in Antarctica who are slowly taken away by an alien capable of transforming themselves into any living thing. Grotesque effects and a tone as cold as the weather were the reasons for the film's initial flop, but are now considered hallmarks of a genre masterpiece.

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