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John Carpenter’s films, known primarily for their horror themes, inevitably feature pulse-pounding soundtracks, slow-moving camera work and hair-raising jolts to the nervous system as evil pops into the foreground with unexpected intensity. However, while Carpenter’s films are also infused with a strong anti-authoritarian, laconic bent, those seeking a good scare tend to overlook the deeper, overarching themes that speak to the filmmaker’s concerns about the unraveling of our society, particularly our government.
Carpenter, as author John Muir writes in his insightful book The Films of John Carpenter, sees the government working against its own citizens. This theme features prominently in the films I explore in my new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, which examines how writers and filmmakers have used science fiction to forecast the future, hold up a mirror to the present, and most important of all, engage their audiences in a critical dialogue about what happens when power, technology and militaristic governance converge.
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