Why John Carpenter Has Used So Many Fake Names On His Movies

John Carpenter famously puts his name in the titles of his movies, but here’s why he started using fake names following Christine’s 1983 release.

Here’s why John Carpenter decided to start using fake names when it came to certain credits later in his career. One of John Carpenter’s trademarks is putting his own name in the title of his movies, with John Carpenter’s Halloween or John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness asserting a sense of authorship over the project. Early on in his career, Carpenter was something of a jack of all trades, and in addition to helming he was also often the writer, producer, composer and more.

Carpenter has largely stepped away from directing in the last two decades, partly due to burnout from working almost non-stop for 30 years. His last directing project was 2010’s The Ward, and while he’s been linked to other movies in the years since, including comic book adaptation Darkchylde or Riot with Nicolas Cage, he seems content with semi-retirement. He’s also been very active in the last five years as a composer, releasing three Lost Themes albums, touring and composing the music for Halloween 2018.

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During the peak of his career, John Carpenter was often working various jobs on his films. For Assault On Precinct 13, he wrote, directed, composed the music and edited. For that latter credit, he chose to use the pseudonym “John T. Chance.” That’s the name of John Wayne’s sheriff in Rio Bravo, with Assault On Precinct 13 being something of a modern-day remake of that 1958 western. Later in his career, John Carpenter would start using pseudonyms more regularly, such as using the penname “Martin Quatermass” for 1987’s Prince Of Darkness. In a 2015 interview with Creative Screenwriting, Carpenter explained his reasoning.

They Live message John Carpenter

“Well, I wrote under some pseudonyms. I used those because I got really tired of seeing my own name on everything. He did this, he did that, he did this… I think the height of that was somebody showed me a big billboard of Christine. I looked at it and my name was repeated over and over, and I thought I should be ashamed. It was above the title, then it was repeated, then it was the music, then it was the director, then it was–my God! What arrogance.”

John Carpenter again pulled a few different duties on 1983’s Christine, an adaptation of a Stephen King novel. It was seeing his name crop up a few times on the movie’s poster that saw him recoil from how often his credit came up. This led to the Quartermass pseudonym on Prince Of Darkness – which was a nod to the character created by British writer Nigel Kneale – while he was credited as the writer on They Live as “Frank Armitage.”

John Carpenter also selected “Rip Haight” as his fake acting name, which he used for his brief cameos in Memoirs Of An Invisible Man and Village Of The Damned. Ironically enough, Carpenter’s most recent work as the director of a 2017 music for his new take on Christine’s main theme; he didn’t use any pseudonyms on that one though.

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