ON SET WITH JOHN CARPENTER by Kim Gottlieb-Walker [Book Review]


by Kim Gottlieb-Walker
Published 24th October 2014
Available from The Book Depository

If you’re reading our dear website, then you are most likely a horror fan. We cannot mention the word “horror” in conjunction with movies without thinking of one of the genre’s most accomplished and prolific directors, John Carpenter. ON SET WITH JOHN CARPENTER is a collection of photographs from official photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker who worked on five of Carpenter’s movies. The photographs capture a time and place where film history was being written, preserving shots of the cast and crew in action, both during the shoot and off-camera when many a laugh were to be had. This book opens the world of John Carpenter’s filmmaking to the masses and lets the reader take a glimpse of what it must’ve been like creating iconic movies such as Halloween and Escape From New York.

One of the great things about this book, besides capturing photos that tell a story of their own, is that John Carpenter and the stars and crew of the films have given a little bit of insight into the photographs and what was happening at the time they were taken as well as thoughts and feelings surrounding that moment in time. What is also interesting is how a lot of the crew working on the films then went on to rise through the ranks, such as James Cameron who worked on Escape From New York as special visual effects artist. Reading about John Carpenter’s thoughts on actresses P.J. Soles and Jamie Lee Curtis’ roles in Halloween was a joy to read and being a fan of the film, it’s easy to imagine what working on set must’ve been like. Seeing photos of the stars between breaks, as well as posed for photos including the girls of Halloween pretending to slide down a stair rail are very fun to browse through.

Kim Gottlieb-Walker certainly knows how to take a photo and her photo sequences paint a great picture on the fun which was had on set. Her photography also captures the menace and tension during filming which was part of the excitement of the movies. A shot of Michael Myers at the top of some stairs with the banister rails shadow cast upon the wall will give you the chills as will the set shot of Tawny Moyer as Nurse Franco being hoisted into the air when Michael stabs her from behind in the hospital corridor in Halloween II. The snippets of quotes accompanying the photographs give a great behind-the-scenes insight into how the various scenes were shot.

The hardback, 176 glossy page book features photographs from Halloween, Halloween II, Escape From New York, The Fog and Christine. Whilst I was disappointed there were no photos from the sets of The Thing and In The Mouth of Madness, as I could imagine how awesome they’d be, the photos in this book were shot by photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker, and having not worked on those particular films they were therefore unable to be included. The photos that are included in this book though are more than enough to satisfy and enthrall any fan of Carpenter’s movies, even the Halloween sequel which was penned by but not directed by Carpenter himself. My favourites have to be the candid moments whilst shooting, the frightening staged photos from Halloween and those in which the cast had some fun during posed moments between shooting.

At just over 10″ by 12″, the large, weighty book would make a great coffee table book for any film fan, with its large, clear photographs bouncing from the pages sharing a story that previously only the cast and crew had known. Now we the fans get to own a piece of that history which we can visit anytime we like.

Rating: ★★★★★

Check out our mini gallery below for a glimpse at a few of the photos included in the ON SET WITH JOHN CARPENTER book.


About Bat 7048 Articles
I love prosthetic effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: Kingdom Come: Deliverance

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