We haven't heard much from John Carpenter lately. The master of horror and sci-fi -- who has made a career out of injecting humor, smart social commentary and no shortage of stylish flair into otherwise run-of-the-mill B-movie premises -- has directed just one feature since 2001.
Fortunately, BAM comes to the rescue beginning Thursday, presenting a retrospective spanning the career of the semiretired auteur/composer of memorable synthetic scores, timed to this week's release of the 77-year-old's first solo album "Lost Themes."
These are some of the films that can't be missed, unfolding in Brooklyn through Feb. 22:
Without question the greatest slasher film of all time, and the movie that single-handedly invented the modern genre, what surprises most about the introduction of the murderous Michael Myers is how well it holds up some 37 years later.
Friday: 'The Thing'
The first part of Carpenter's "Apocalypse" trilogy (followed by "Prince of Darkness," "In the Mouth of Madness"), adapted from John W. Campbell's novella "Who Goes There," takes the archetypal premise of an insidious force seizing control of scientists isolated on Antarctica and transforms it into a gripping study of paranoid suspicion and insidious group think.
Saturday: 'Big Trouble in Little China'
Many of Carpenter's movies were box office failures initially that audiences subsequently discovered and turned into cult favorites. This flick, a rollicking martial arts comedy starring Kurt Russell and set amid the San Francisco underworld, is perhaps the ultimate example of the phenomenon.
Feb. 13: 'They Live'
Carpenter's movies resonate in no small part because of his eye for social satire, and this spectacular anti-conformist spectacle from the height of the Reagan era, starring professional wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Keith David, finds the filmmaker in top form.
Feb. 21: 'Escape From New York'/ 'Escape From L.A.'
Russell and Carpenter have worked together five times, including on the aforementioned "The Thing" and "Big Trouble in Little China" and the 1979 TV movie "Elvis," which is missing from this series. Their most famous collaboration is unquestionably on this apocalyptic series, in which Carpenter gave Russell his iconic part -- the eyepatch-sporting, snarling anti-hero Snake Plissken. "New York," from 1981, serves as an entertainingly heightened time capsule of an NYC beset with ruin, while "L.A." raises the stakes in classic '90s fashion.