The John Carpenter Disaster Film The World Needs To See

By Douglas Helm | Updated

John Carpenter has made plenty of classic movies, but there were also some left on the cutting room floor that we’ll never see. One of those films is Meltdown, and it’s a shame it never got a chance to see the light of day. The canceled film would have been a slasher set in a nuclear power plant, which is iconic based on the description alone.

John Carpenter would have made Meltdown before Halloween, and it would have followed a group of people being picked off by a mysterious monster in a nuclear power plant.

John Carpenter meltdown

If the premise sounds nearly the same as Halloween, you would be forgiven for thinking so. Carpenter himself has even said that the film would have been like a Michael Meyers movie, just with the power plant setting.

John Carpenter’s Meltdown would have been about a group of people being picked off by a mysterious monster in a nuclear power plant

John Carpenter started writing Meltdown a year before Halloween was released and loosely based it on Thomas N. Scotia and Frank M. Robinson’s The Prometheus Crisis.

The name of the nuclear power plant in the novel is Project Prometheus, which was built to provide energy to the entire nation during an energy crisis. However, the power plant is on the brink of a meltdown, setting the stage for disaster. 

However, John Carpenter stripped out a lot of these plot details, took out the energy crisis, and kept the power plant setting. He then put together the slasher elements and created a fearsome character to rack up some kills. Of course, the slasher ideas would basically become Halloween, which explains why Meltdown never really got followed up on.

Meltdown was written before Halloween and the killer, The Figure, would have been similar to Michael Myers

John Carpenter created a slasher known as The Figure in Meltdown, who is implied to be a survivor of an atomic bomb test. The Figure rigs the computers in the power plant to cause a meltdown and starts killing innocent people at the plant, adding a ticking clock element to the plot.

Interestingly, there is also a scene where The Figure speaks, which is different from Myers’ almost total silence throughout Halloween.

Of course, right after the massive success of Halloween, John Carpenter was getting plenty of work, and making something so similar to his smash hit didn’t really make sense.

John Carpenter meltdown

Meltdown was left behind, though there have been attempts to revive it since then. Joe Dante and John Dahl were both attached to direct versions of the film at some point, with Dahl’s being an action movie with Dolph Lundgren. Both of these never saw the light of day.

There have been attempts to revive John Carpenter’s Meltdown

The most recent attempt to revive John Carpenter’s Meltdown was a version in 1997 with actor Casper Van Dien attached. Of course, this version never came to pass either. Legal disputes and development hell prevented the project from ever coming to fruition in any form.

At this point, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever see John Carpenter’s Meltdown get made. Still, it’s definitely a cool concept and one that could perhaps be tackled in a different way in the future. It’s cool to wonder about, but it’s something that will probably forever be left up to our imaginations.