Monday, April 09, 2007

The Influence is Obvious: References to John Carpenter’s movies

The John Carpenter Effect: A Blog-O-Thon

Piper over at Lazy Eye Theater came up with the fabulous idea of conducting a John Carpenter blog-o-thon and that was just too cool a thing to pass up so here is my entry!

The whole purpose of this blog-o-thon is to discuss Carpenter's influence over the world of entertainment in the last 20-30 years and believe me the man has influenced quite a lot, almost too much to talk about! To narrow it down a bit I've decided to talk about many of the direct homages to Carpenter's work that appear in the films, television, music, literature, art and video games of other creators.

Let's look in the most obvious place to homage a filmmaker...in the movies. Director Robert Rodriguez is clearly a big fan of Carpenter; not only does he compose the scores for his own movies, as Carpenter does, but Rodriguez's movie The Faculty features a scene meant to homage a classic scene from Carpenter's The Thing.

For those of you who haven't seen The Thing (and I highly recommend it) the plot in a nutshell involves a group of scientists stationed on a remote Antarctic location who are invaded by an alien "thing" that can take over the bodies of other living creatures. The only way to tell if someone has been taken over is by testing their blood and in one intense scene in The Thing they do just that, it's the centerpiece of the film.

Click here to watch the blood test scene from The Thing:


Not only does The Faculty homage this great scene but learns from it and extends the tension even further (I'd tell you how but I wouldn't want to spoil one of the best parts of the movie).

Rodriguez's influence doesn't end there the second half of his film From Dusk til Dawn is basically a remake of Capenter's Assault on Precinct 13, not to mention one of the leads wears a shirt through the whole movie that says Precinct 13.

Also Ranma 1/2 homaged Carpenter's classic Big Trouble in Little China by naming the first film Ranma 1/2: Big Trouble in Nekonron.

On TV it's pretty clear the makers of the show South Park are Carpenter fans since they have homaged him at least twice. The episode Cripple Fight pays homage to the classic drawn out fight scene from They Live with it's character's Jimmy and Timmy getting into an equally long drawn out fight. Jimmy even utters the line "You dirty motherfucker" originally uttered by Keith David in the original Carpenter film. Also the episode Lice Capades they homage the above mentioned classic scene from The Thing when someone in class gets lice and they need to find out who.

Here is the classic fight scene from They Live:


In The Honking, an episode of the series Futurama, Bender is run over by a Werecar, which strongly resembles Christine. But since Stephen King wrote the novel the movie is based on I guess he deserves some of the credit.

Carpenter has been homaged ALOT in the world of video games. The lead character of the Metal Gear series is named Solid Snake, the makers of the game claim they based him on Carpenter's Escape From New York hero Snake Plisskin. Even more than a name the plot from New York was used to inspire the plot of the game's sequel Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake where Solid Snake must sneak into an impregnable fortress to rescue a VIP and an important tape/cartridge that determines the fate of the world.

In Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China the Asian mystic character Egg-Shen arms himself for battle with something called a six-demon bag. When Jack Burton the film's lead asks what it contains, Egg Shen answers, "Wind, fire, all that kind of thing." The online game World of Warcraft features a six-demon bag as a rare item to those whose powers are described by using those words. World of Warcraft also features a dungeon area called The-Upside Down Sinners, a reference to some of Big Trouble's characters getting stuck in the Hell of Upside-Down Sinners.

Big Trouble in Little China's character Lightning has also influenced the game Mortal Combat which features a character called Raiden who has simular powers, also the game's character Shang Tsung bears a striking resemblance to Trouble's villain Lo Pan.

In the world of music the electronic band Air credits Carpenter's score for Assault on Precinct 13 as one of their biggest influences and the Rage Against the Machine album Renegades contains pictures of money with messages written on the bills, one of which is "I am your god," a reference to the hidden messages in They Live.

Carpenter's influence has even stretched out to literature where William Gibson credits Snake Plissken as being an inspiration for his Neuromancer character Armitage who is forced to cooperate in a manner similar to the way Snake's cooperation is coerced.

Also comics creator Jhonen Vasquez has included references to They Live in his comic Squee by using the phrase Obey in school scenes and the phrase "Your textbook is the only God" based on They Live's phrase "This is your god."

While we are on the subject of They Live one specific Roddy Piper ad-lib from They Live has been referenced a TON in popular culture, "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass ...and I'm all out of bubblegum"

Click here to watch Roddy run out of bubblegum:


and here are just a few references to the above scene.

-It was in an episode of Will and Grace (so I'm told, I'd never watch that crap).

-In the David Mamet film Spartan, a drill sergeant berates his trainees: "All I have for you is a stiff dick and bubblegum and guess what? I'm all out of bubblegum."

-In the video game Duke Nukem 3D, Duke says "it's time to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of gum."

-The film Dazed and Confused features the quote "I came here to drink some beers and kick some ass, looks like we're all out of beer."

-Rapper Ice Cube uses a paraphrase of the line in his "Get Off My Dick and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here": "Cause all I got is hard dick, and bubblegum/Just ran out my last stick is where I'm comin from."

-In the short story "The Moving Finger" by Stephen King, Howard Milta says "I'M READY FOR YOU, MY FRIEND. I'M COMING TO KICK ASS AND CHEW BUBBLEGUM, AND I'M ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM!"

-In one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, host Mike Nelson jokes "I've come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of ass." Also, in another episode, Santa makes a guest appearance and quips "I'm here to eat candy canes and kick ass, and I'm all out of candy canes."

Phew that's a lot of John Carpenter references and if it's true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then he should feel very loved. I'm sure there are more John Carpenter references out there and if I've missed any please leave them in the comments section!

7 comments:

Piper said...

Jesus, this is amazing.

If you've ever seen The Grim Adventures Of Billy and Mandy on Cartoon Network, they have a character named Hoss Delgado that's an obvious homage to Snake Plissken.

Thanks for the post. Nicely done.

Dr. Zaius said...

What a great post! I was unaware of many of the referenance that you made, even though I had seen the movies and the tv shows. (Duh! My pop culture kung fu is weak!) I love Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, Escape From New York and Assault on Precinct 13, but I have never seen They Live. I'll have to dig it up. What was Snake Plisskin's real first name again? I can't remember.

Scurvy said...

Wow. I got taken to school on this one. I was going to mention Hoss too. Sort of a reference to 'Ash' too he is tho.

Becca said...

Piper-
Thanks for the great blog-o-thon idea!

And no I haven't seen The Grim Adventures, I've been burned far too many times by bad shows on cartoon network but knowing that you and Scurvy watch it makes me want to check it out.

Dr. Zaius-
Big Trouble in Little China is great, one of my FAVORITE movies. And you really must check out They Live, it's awesome! Hell even if you're not a big fan of the movie around it, you must see They Live just for the terriffic fight scene between Roddy Piper and Keith David...so awesome...

I did not know Snake's real name so I did some checking around and it doesn't seem like anyone knows his real name but apparently he scored the name Snake for his abbility to slither out of trouble.

Scurvy-
Yeah I'll really have to check out this show now.

Joe Valdez said...

Hi, Becca. I stumbled onto your site courtesy Piper's John Carpenter blog-a-thon. I love what you've done. No Smoking In The Skull Cave is one of the coolest movie sites I've come across, probably the best I've seen done with Blogspot.

Your Overlooked Movies index is awesome and has given me a bunch of rental ideas, and your devotion to pin-ups and cool chicks like Zoe Bell does not hurt either. I could spend hours on here when I really should be looking for a new job. Thanks for contributing to my slackness. Keep up the beautiful work!

Becca said...

Joe-
Wow those are some terriffic compliments! Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you found lots to hold your interest. Of course there are few things in the world cooler than cult movies and pin-up girls...

Glad I could contribute to your idleness. :) Good luck on that job hunt!

Anonymous said...

Here's one:

In the game Half-Life: Opposing Force, during the Boot Camp level, if you talk to the drill sergeant enough, he'll say, "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum! And I'm all out of bubblegum!"