Review: On Set With John Carpenter

John Carpenter_cvr final_300dpi_26.5x31cmBy Kim Gottlieb-Walker

Titan Books, out October 24

A candid look at some of the horror maestro’s earliest films…

John Carpenter is one of those directors who I’ve always thought has never been given the credit he deserves. There aren’t the critical assessments of his work that you can find for many of his contemporaries, but his body of work stands up to a lot of scrutiny. He’s also a very pleasant person – I briefly met him in Los Angeles a few years ago when a colleague asked if he could take a photo of us with her new camera; not realising who he was, she started to explain how to use it!

Kim Gottlieb-Walker was the on-set photographer for the five films represented here – the first two Halloweens, Escape From New York, The Fog and Christine – and in addition to shots that were planned for the press kit and other publicity, there are some amazing personal pictures. Nearly every shot gets an explanatory paragraph from the photographer herself, or more usually from one of the key personnel involved in the film, both cast and crew, making this far more than just a photo album.

There are anecdotes about and tributes to those who could no longer contribute themselves to this – notably producer Debra Hill – and although there are a few people whose voices aren’t heard, overall you get a very good idea both of the production of the films, and the atmosphere that pervaded shooting. Some quite major Hollywood players were just starting their careers when these were made in the late 1970s/early 1980s and you get an interesting insight into what made them tick.

Any fan of Carpenter’s work needs a copy of this book – and maybe Titan might seriously consider an overview of his whole career?

Verdict: A sometimes eye-opening insight into the production of some seminal movies. 9/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order On Set with John Carpenter from


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