Whenever I meet someone who will go to the mat for John Carpenter, that to me is a qualifier for friendship. In my mind, Carpenter is like Stanley Kubrick with holes in his jeans, or a joint to a $15 cigar, or Pabst Blue Ribbon to Heineken if I can be Frank. From 1976’s Assault on Precinct 13 to 1988’s They Live, he had a ferocious run, tearing up social norms with irreverent style and quasi-populist humor while constantly entertaining audiences with a mad swirl of genres.

It’s unfortunate that those audiences would show up later than sooner, and the critics? Well, I’m grateful the Internet arrived because most critics would rather praise a mediocre movie playing in five theaters than publish a retrospective praising Carpenter. His movies poked fun at the establishment and his modus operandi wore self-reliance on its sleeve. Those synthy scores drove his independence home like roman candles made with gun powder and other manly things. He made movies with giant balls for geeks before geeks were recognized. He used his youth and ideals about movie making to the fullest. But now that geeks are recognized, where are those ballsy movies from the new geek directors?

It’s been seven years since Carpenter had a movie, Ghosts of Mars, in theaters. I walked out of that one, and 1998’s Vampires was a disappointment sans a pretty cool start. His next film, L.A. Gothic, is scheduled to start shooting in March, with a script by Jim Agnew and Sean Keller, who scribed the new Dario Argento movie, Giallo, mentioned yesterday. Here’s the log line via STYD:

Five interwoven stories of high-octane horror centering on a vengeful ex-priest’s efforts to protect his teenage daughter from the supernatural evils of L.A.’s dark side.

So, it’s an anthology horror film to boot a la next October’s Trick ‘r Treat. Those are always difficult to pull off, and harder still to make work at the box office (why is that?), but it seems like perfect socio-skewer material for Carpenter’s return to feature filmmaking. Plus, anthology horror in the theater simply rocks. And, you know, for some reason critics just love movies about L.A., especially when the city’s in the title.