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The Most Iconic Moments in John Carpenter’s Films, Ranked

The Most Iconic Moments in John Carpenter’s Films, Ranked

John Carpenter, a renowned Master of the horror genre, has created some of the most memorable and beloved movies in film history. Mostly sticking to horror, Carpenter did step outside his comfort zone a time or two throughout his filmmaking career, dabbling in other genres with movies like Starman and Big Trouble in Little China. The 74-year-old musician and filmmaker has created some truly recognizable characters and amazing stories within his lengthy filmography, including Michael Myers, who is still the center of the Halloween franchise, more than 40 years later. Within some of his movies, there are some extremely iconic moments, that viewers remember even decades after watching. Here are some of the most iconic moments in John Carpenter’s films, ranked.

Related: Starman: Why John Carpenter’s Sci-Fi Film is One of the Best of the ’80s

7/7 Closing the Portal – Prince of Darkness (1987)

Prince of Darkness is one of the few unique horror films that combines both the ideas of religious and scientific horror. A group of scientists and their students accidentally unleash evil upon the world after studying a canister of liquid that they find in an old church. The movie has a fantastic cast of character actors, including Donald Pleasence, Lisa Blount, Victor Wong, and even the rock god, Alice Cooper. The most iconic moment comes at the climax of the film, when all hell is about to break loose (literally), one of the main characters sacrifices herself by tackling another through a portal mirror that the powerful “Anti-God” is using to come to this world. The priest uses this opportunity to shatter the mirror in a last-ditch effort, sealing both our heroes and the Anti-God in another dimension for good.

6/7 Christine Puts Herself Back Together – Christine (1987)

In Christine, the 1983 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the possessed Plymouth takes a beating after some of her beloved Arnie’s bullies want to get back at him by destroying his car. In one the coolest practical effects-heavy scenes of early ’80s horror, off-screen hydraulic pumps, pulleys and metal-looking plastics were used to make the car look like it was putting itself back together, right before getting revenge on those who attacked her.

5/7 Chewing Bubble Gum and Kicking Ass – They Live (1988)

Not many people foresaw former WWE superstar “Rowdy” Roddy Piper becoming a great leading man in a sci-fi/horror film about robotic-looking aliens, but he proved them all wrong with his portrayal of the gruff and heroic Nada. In the most iconic scene of They Live, Nada, donning the special sunglasses that allow him to see the true identities of consumerist aliens, exclaims, “I have come here to chew bubble gum, and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubble gum” right before blasting them with his trusty shotgun.

4/7 Mr. Machen’s Story – The Fog (1980)

In the opening scenes of The Fog, Mr. Machen (played by the always amazing John Houseman) tells a ghost story to a group of kids next to a campfire overlooking the sea, on the evening of the 100th anniversary of Antonio Bay. The chilling atmosphere is a perfect lead-in to the rest of the film, as Mr. Machen details the story of a ship that crashed into rocks, killing those on board. When more of the story is revealed, showing that the ship was deliberately sunk by the towns elders in 1880, Mr. Machen’s story becomes that much creepier, as now we know the motive behind the invading ghosts’ revenge.

Related: Jamie Lee Curtis Reminisces About How John Carpenter Changed Her Life With The Fog

3/7 It’s All in the Reflexes – Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

From one of Carpenter’s rare stints in the comedy world comes Jack Burton (played by Kurt Russell), one of his most iconic characters. Throughout the entirety of Big Trouble in Little China, the audience is told time and time again that “it’s all in the reflexes” from the unusual hero, though he never really shows us how good those reflexes are. At the end of the film, when the evil sorcerer, David Lo Pan heaves a knife at Burton in hopes to kill him, those reflexes finally kick in, allowing Jack to catch the knife, and send it back into his enemy’s head.

2/7 “I know I’m human” – The Thing (1982)

Another iconic moment from Kurt Russell; his character of MacReady in The Thing (1982) shines throughout the entire film. But the most iconic moment comes when he’s taken the rest of the crew captive in order to perform a scientific test, using a hot wire and a sample of their blood. Things are intense for the audience when MacReady tests his own blood, but luckily, it comes back as normal. In a scene where we sigh in relief and feel a little comfort that our favorite character isn’t compromised, we let our guard down too much, as the next test reveals a shocking infiltrator in the group and a great jump scare.

1/7 Michael Myers Comes Home – Halloween (1978)

From John Carpenter’s most iconic movie comes his most iconic moment. At the beginning of Halloween, we see Michael murder his own sister as a child, and after years in a mental ward, Myers escapes with one destination in mind, Haddonfield, IL. He fixates on Laurie Strode, whose father is trying to sell Michael’s old house. After stalking Laurie and her friends for the entire film, he finally comes face-to-face with Laurie, who would go on to become his nemesis in several subsequent films, including the supposed final film in the franchise, Halloween Ends. The moment where Laurie believes she is safe, and doesn’t realize Michael is just feet away in the dark, ready to grab her, is burned into our memories forever.