Devotees of John Carpenter's wry brand B-movie acumen should enjoy the minutia provided by this 60-minute, bonus-feature style documentary that traces the director's cinematic roots back to his childhood of EC horror comics and 8mm movie cameras. It's not a particularly imaginative affair -- mostly talking heads (fellow schlock king George Romero, producer/girlfriend Debra Hill, his favorite actors Kurt Russell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau, etc.) and selected scenes from Carpenter's entire filmography of genre-defining drive-in flicks.
But it does provide good face-time with the man himself (talking about his inspirations, going into detail about his memorable, self-composed musical scores) and a thorough history that speaks to the fact that this guy doesn't get enough respect: His USC film school project "The Resurrection of Broncho Billy" won an Oscar and became the first student film to get nationwide theatrical release.
Unlike its countless imitators, his slasher archetype "Halloween" (once the most successful independent film of all time) traded in unadulterated fear, not Karo-syrup gore. And the monster design for his remake of "The Thing" broke new ground in special effects. But while this doc would make a good addition to a Carpenter box set or an interesting between-films feature on HBO, as a stand-alone DVD it's shrug-worthy.
THE FILM: **1/2
-- By Rob Blackwelder