John Carpenter Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Below are all the screenplays written by John Carpenter available online. Watch the video below to get a deeper insight into his writing process. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

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(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

DARK STAR (1974)

Screenplay by John Carpenter – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by John Carpenter – Read the screenplay!

THE FOG (1980)

Screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by John Carpenter – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by John Carpenter and Nick Castle – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by John Carpenter – Read the screenplay!

THEY LIVE (1988)

Screenplay by John Carpenter – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by John Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Kurt Russell – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Ames DeMonaco and John Carpenter – Read the screenplay!

John Carpenter: The Master of Horror

Although John Howard Carpenter has worked in several film genres, he is usually associated with science fiction and horror films from the 1970s and 1980s.

John Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York on January 16th, 1948. He grew up in Bowling Green Kentucky as his family moved there in 1953. From a young age, showed great interest in films and filmmaking.

The westerns which were directed by Howard Hawks and John Ford especially captivated him. He was also really fascinated by the low budget horror films of the 1950s like The Thing From Another World and high-budgeted science fiction such as Forbidden Planet. Carpenter began to film short horror films on 8 mm long before he had even entered high school.

John’s father Howard Ralph Carpenter, was an established musician and music professor as well who influenced him in polishing his music skills. John attended Western Kentucy University where his father presided over the music department.

Later on he transferred to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1968. In his early film course at USC Cinema, Carpenter directed and wrote an 8-min short film, Captain Voyeur. The year 2011 brought rediscovery of this film in the USC archives which proved to be interesting due to the revelation of its elements which would be appearing in his later film, Halloween (1978).

Carpenter collaborated with the producer John Longenecker as a film editor, co-writer and music composer for The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970).It won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.
It was blown-up to 35mm and sixty prints were made.

John Carpenter’s first feature as a director was Dark Star (1974)which was a science fiction black comedy he had co-written with Dan O’Bannon (who later wrote Alien, and borrowed freely from Dark Star). It tells the tale of four astronauts who are on a mission to abolish unstable worlds with hope to make future space exploration and colonization a safe journey. It depicted a postmodernist space-age environment years before the arrival of Alien (1979).It was a challenging film to make with the cost of $60,000 only and O’Bannon and Carpenter had to multitask vigorously. It became an instant cult classic. Efforts made by Carpenter did not go unnoticed and Hollywood praised his filmmaking abilities within the limits of a restricted budget.

Assault on Precinct (1976) was Carpenter’s next film which was low-budget thriller greatly influenced by the film Rio Bravo. It depicts the story of a police station which is under attack by a viciously ruthless gang and how the characters have to endure brutal attack which is carried out by a group of faceless invaders. Carpenter not only directed and scored it but under the pseudonym of John T. Chance, edited it as well. Carpenter enjoyed complete creative control over it enabling him to craft a very violent and stylized tale of urban violence. Assault on Precinct marked the time when Debra Hill worked with Carpenter for the first time and later on went on to become a prominent lead in some of his most important films.

Lauren Hutton’s thriller Someone’s Watching Me! was both written and directed by Carpenter. This TV movie happens to be the tale of a single working woman who finds out upon her arrival in L.A. that someone is stalking her.

A thriller film of 1978, Eyes of Laura Mars directed by Irvin Kershner and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Faye Dunaway was adapted from a spec script titled Eyes in collaboration with David Zelag Goodman and written by John Carpenter which became his major studio film career.

The most successful film of his career, Halloween (1978) was a commercial hit which gave birth to the slasher film genre. It became one of the most enduring and influential films of the horror genre. It was originally Irwin Yablans idea titled as The Babysitter Murders. With another suggestion from Yablans that the movie to be set during Halloween, Carpenter took the idea and developed a story. A very simple storyline of a babysitter being menaced by a stalker and serial killer Carpenter produced a powerful narrative with a relatively small budget. Creating a memorable and frightening experience, Halloween grossed over $65 million initially making it among one of the most successful independent films.

The theme composed by Carpenter became recognizable apart from the movie in addition to the critical and commercial success of Halloween.

The year 1979 brought about the first of numerous collaborations with the actor Kurt Rusell when the TV movie Elvis was directed.

The success of Halloween was followed with The Fog (1980) co-written by Hill was a spooky revenge tale and was inspired by The Crawling Eye (1958)a monster film about monsters hiding in the clouds and horror comics like Tales from the Crypt.

The Fog’s completion was a difficult process for Carpenter as there were production problems and negative reception mostly. The Fog is considered a minor horror classic by Carpenter. It is a beautifully photographed atmospheric ghost story where the paranormal entities are result of the guilt of a small town community. To make it more frightening, additional shots were added including numerous new scenes. The Fog turned out to be a commercial success grossing over $21,000,000 in the U.S alone and was made on a budget of $1,000,000.

Carpenter realized one of his dream projects Escape from New York (1981) which starred several actors that Carpenter had collaborated with before. Carpenter had its script in mind since the mid of 1970s. It presented a cynical picture of crime, greed, corruption, violence and selfishness found in existing America. It went on to become a critical and commercial success grossing over $25 million. And it not only received warm reception but also happened to become a seminal science fiction film creating various limitations.

Carpenter’s next film, The Thing (1982) is prominent for its special effects by Rob Bottin, matte artist Albert Whitlock’s special visual effects and a score by Ennio Morricone. The cast comprised of rising star Kurt Russell and various respected artists like Richard Masur, Charles Hallahan, Wilford Brimley and Keith David.

The source material for The Thing came from a 1951 Howard Hawks film, it is more related to Who Goes There?, a John Campbell novella. The Thing was part of Carpenter’s Apocalyptic Trilogy having Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness as other parts all having bleak endings for the characters.

Being a graphic horror film, it failed to appeal to the audiences as E.T. the Extra Terrestrial had just come out with a light hearted alien theme. It happened to be Carpenter’s first financial disappointment.

Soon after the post-production of The Thing had finished, Universal offered Carpenter to direct Firestarter which was based on a Stephen King’s novel but when The Thing failed to do well, Universal replaced Carpenter by Mark L. Lester.

Christine which was the 1983 adaptation of Stephen King novel of the same name, was Carpenter’s next film. The plot focused around a high school nerd Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) who purchases a discarded 1958 Plymouth Fury which happens to have demonic powers. As the car is rebuilt and restored, Arnie becomes unnaturally obsessed and faces horrendous consequences. The movie did respectable business and was well received by critics.

Michael Douglas produced Starman (1984) and he chose Carpenter to be the director because of his repute as an action director who could convey a strong sentiment. The movie was favorably reviewed. It also earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Starman character played by Jeff Bridge. It earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Musical Score.

After Carpenter’s big budgeted action comedy Big Trouble in Little China (1986), getting his films financed was a struggle and Carpenter retreated to lower budget films.

The Exorcist III (1989) was also offered to Carpenter and he met with the writer and the co-author of the book Legionon which it was based. However, the seemed to create a clash on the climax resulting in Carpenter passing on the project.

Over the course of 90s, Carpenter faced number of misfires in the form of Memoires of an Invisible Man (1992), Village of the Damned (1995) and Escape from L.A (1996)which were both critical and commercial failures. In the Mouth of Madness (1994) a Lovecraftian tribute, also failed to do well.

John Carpenter was supposed to be directing the follow up project for Halloween called the Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998). But he demanded his starting fee to be 10 million dollars which his rationalized by stating that he had not received revenue from the original Halloween which was still a topic of contention between him and the director Moustapha Akkad after passing of 20 years. Carpenter walked away from the project eventually.

First movie since Ghost of Mars, The Ward premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010. Lifetime Achievement Award from the Freak Show Horror Film Festival was awarded to Carpenter in 2010. He is to executively produce a new Halloween film releasing in October 2017.

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