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on September 24, 2009
Will the real John Carpenter step forward? Is he the diabolical, masterful horror trailblazer who made Halloween and The Fog, or the sardonic, self-aware b-movie cheese-slinger who made Escape From L.A., Ghosts of Mars, and Body Bags? What makes this collection so good is that it not only represents some of his biggest and best, but you can almost see the transition take place. Carpenter is in top form with The Thing, a gripping, atmospheric feat of pure horror. Prince of Darkness is somewhat of an experimental film, with little in the way of special effects, a relaxed and naturalistic pace, and perhaps even heavier on the atmosphere, complete with a strange, somewhat elliptical tale. While it has its moments, Village of the Damned seems to be a misstep, and while Carpenter seems to handle this movie with a straight face, the subject matter is ultimately too meager and silly to make it a worthwhile watch. Thankfully, Carpenter remedies this disjunction with They Live, helming a far out, 50s pulp era story and giving it both the seriousness it needs for us to connect with it while also ensuring hammy performances and exaggerated visuals as a counterpoint.

The four movies are collected on two DVDs, and thankfully, they're one-sided discs with artwork instead of those abominable flippers. We get The Thing and Prince of Darkness on the first disc, with They Live and Village of the Damned on the second. All four movies are in Widescreen, but that's all you get here. There are no special features of any kind, not even any trailers. In fact, there aren't even chapter selection options on the menu screens, so if you want to get to a certain point in the movies, you have to play them from the beginning and then skip chapters from there.

Thankfully, the packaging makes up for the threadbare content. This four movie set is contained in a standard size, clear 2-DVD case with 2-sided artwork, although the inner artwork is pretty plain. This is topped with a slipcover that has the same cover art but highlighted with iridescent ink that lends some beauty to the horrible images imposed there.

So, is this set worth it? Chances are, if you're a fan of the man, you already own most of these, and the lack of any special features really degrades the value of this set. But, if your Carpenter collection consists of The Thing and Halloween, this inexpensive, compact, varied array of movies housed in a handsome package is too good to pass up.

Thanks for reading.
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on October 27, 2012
Prince of Darkness: Alice Cooper as a zombie bum! This is more surrealistic than literal; there is some sort of evil godforce in a glass tube beneath an old Catholic church that turns a group of college ghost hunter types into zombies; Donald Pleasance plays a jittery priest, and as always is a joy to watch. An eerie little horror flick with gruesomely fun music.

They Live: Don't trust the media because they're aliens! Yeah, not a surprise there. Roddy Piper is our delirious hero with his special glasses that let you see the disguised aliens as they truly are and reveal subliminal meesages peppered throughout society to stay subservient to the aliens. Wish we had some of those glasses, especially when watching today's mass media spin their Wonderland news. The music here is a bit jaunty but catchy.

Village of the Damned: Christopher Reeve and Mark Hamill star in this nifty remake of the 1960's classic about a town that collapses into unconsciousness and nine months later all the women give birth to blonde-headed, telekinetic terrors that were possible inspiration for Charlie in Firestarter. I think it's the last movie before my favorite Superman had his spine injury that left him paralyzed for the last five or six years of his life. The music here is slow and lethargic, the worst of all four films.

The Thing: Kurt Russell starred in five Carpenter films (Elvis (1979), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982), Big Trouble in Little China (1986)and Escape from L.A. (1996)) and owns this flick; not as much of a remake of the 1951 classic as it is a sequel (just as the recent prequel isn't a remake; watch them in order, The Thing from Another World, The Thing (2010) and The Thing (1982) and hope that an actually sequel gets made); a shapeshifting, flesh-consumming alien horror counts its coup on a scientific exploration team in Antarctica. As a hormone-driven teen in 1982 I loved it and hadn't even noticed that there were no females in the movie at all. Incredible music that I'm hearing in my head riii-ght now.

All four movies ARE John Carpenter and all four have pessimistic endings, but if you're a Carpenter fan then you already know that, don't you?
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on July 6, 2012
Yes , each film has English subtitles . Now , if you are deaf or hard of hearing or just like to read the script dialog while you watch (like me) , you have that ability to do so here . Perhaps you have to keep the volume low ? Besides , if you are a TRUE horror fan , how many Anchor Bay or other film distribution companies have made you pay through-the-nose for pictures , but have failed to provide subtitles or encode closed captions ? I won't extol the various virtues of these films (all presented in their proper aspect ratios) , as that's subjective . Read um and don't weep though . Less than 4 dollars a film ? Wow . Great-value-fun .
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on December 13, 2014
This set is a great introduction to John Carpenter's work, and a great value in general. The Thing and They Live are basically mandatory viewing for horror and science fiction enthusiasts, and Prince of Darkness and Village of the Damned (while certainly not perfect films by any means) are certainly interesting examples of Carpenter's style of film making, and certainly worth watching.
Also, thank you so much for the movies being on single sided DVDs! I HATE double sided DVDs, they get scratched up easier, it's often difficult to identify which side is which, and they're just a pain to handle in general. This collection contains two single sided disks with two movies per disk, both of which are clearly labeled, perfect!
I presume they're able to fit two movies per disk due to this collection's lack of special features, however as someone who's never cared about DVD special features, and probably never will, this is not a big drawback for me.

I have no problem at all recommending this set for new the budding Carpenter fan or the budget minded horror consumer!
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on October 25, 2013
It's been my experience with sets like these that you normally only like one or two of the movies, and the rest are awful. We saw every one of these movies back in college, and loved them all, so when I saw them here, all together, it was a no-brainer purchase. They Live was our favorite, but we've watched every one of these movies a handful of times over the years. We're 39, and people our age who are into Horror will probably love this stuff as much as we do. Great collection!
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on April 10, 2014
I bought this for the film "They Live" which turned out to be far more prophetic than I expected when I saw it in the theaters. The collection was a great price and I am happy with my purchase.
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on February 26, 2016
This is a collection of four films. The best by far is "The Thing" with Kurt Russell. But two lesser known films are really excellent. "They Live" with surprisingly good actor "Rowdy" Roddy Piper is a creepy allegory about a surveillance state and waking up to soft tyranny. The best lines are "put the glasses on" and "I'm all out of bubblegum". Funny and yet profound, it is a creepy film with modern resonance relevant today. The next gem is "Prince of Darkness", about the return of the antichrist. If you buy into the premise, you'll enjoy the film. Suspenseful and dark, the film features a cameo of Alice Cooper. The last film is a remake of "Village of the Damned". I saw the original and it is better. This newer version has Superman Christopher Reeve and Kirsty Alley. It's an ok film, but definitely the runt of this litter.
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on March 26, 2015
Easily 4 of John Carpenter's best films. I mainly only bought this because I was looking to get They Live on DVD (I already owned The Thing). That being said, The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and Village of the Damned are all really gripping thrillers that exude the John Carpenter trademarks. This is a really good set.
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on June 21, 2015
The Master of Fear! Need I say more: these movies stand up to the test of time. I really bought these because I wanted to see "They Live." Great stuff--except for Village of the Damned, IMO. Loved The Thing and Prince of Darkness. I'm really hoping to find "In the Mouth of Madness" at a good price as well, I'm sorry it wasn't included instead of VOTD. Oh, well. There are some cheesy, cheesy moments, but the suspense holds true and the cinematography is amazing! Sound quality is kind of poor, but these are not remastered.

I highly recommend these to vintage horror movie fans! They're the basics and you can't go wrong.
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on August 11, 2011
This set is fantastic to get out if you want to experience the chill that older movies can send down your spine without the use of all the special effects that are currently used today. The best of the set, in my opinion, was Village of the Damned. Let's face it... any film about scary, evil children is flat out freaky. I am crossing my fingers for a remake of this movie.
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