Book Review: On Set With John Carpenter

John Carpenter photographs

We gave @omandoriginal a book with Kurt Russell photos in. She was away for a very long time...

“Do you want to review a book of photographs?” they said. Yes, I was quite interested. “It’s about John Carpenter films,” they said. Yes, I was very interested. “It’s got Escape from New York photos in,” they said. I grabbed the book.

On Set with John Carpenter contains, as it says, photographs taken on the sets of five of John Carpenter’s films all taken by one photographer, Kim Gottlieb-Walker. As well as Escape from New York, the book also covers Hallowe’en I and II, The Fog and Christine and provides both candid and staged shots of the actors and crew involved in the making of each film. Shot mostly in black and white, the candid photographs especially have a strong photo-journalistic quality about them and really capture the essence of the era. The actors’ portraits are intriguing character studies, with Gottlieb-Walker managing to encapsulate a lot of feeling in what could be fairly cold, formal head shots. The on-set photos too are a fantastic reminder of the excellence of these Carpenter films and I need to watch many of them again because of it.

The accompanying commentary in the book is also fascinating and adds a lot to the book while not interrupting the flow of the photos. It’s written in short reminiscences as if people involved with the films had been given the box of old pictures and they sparked memories. Between these nuggets of information and the photos themselves, Titan Books have managed to capture a complete social history, giving the reader a compelling insight into both the films themselves, the world of film-making at that time and the directorial brilliance of John Carpenter.

And then there’s Kurt Russell. In combats.

Follow Susan Omand on Twitter @OmandOriginal.

Image courtesy of Titan Books.

On Set with John Carpenter is available from Amazon here:



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