Gary B. Kibbe, Cinematographer for John Carpenter, Dies at 79

Courtesy American Society of Cinematographers
Gary B. Kibbe

He shot 'They Live,' 'Vampires,' 'Escape From L.A.' and more for the horror maestro.

Gary B. Kibbe, who served as John Carpenter's cinematographer on seven films, including They Live, In the Mouth of Madness and Escape From L.A., has died. He was 79.

Kibbe died March 9 at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, his daughter Cheri Faeth told The Hollywood Reporter.

On Twitter, Carpenter called Kibbe "a kind man [and] a great collaborator."

He was a camera operator on Halloween II (1981) and Big Trouble in Little China (1986), co-written and directed by Carpenter, respectively.

Kibbe then worked as the filmmaker's DP on Prince of Darkness (1987), They Live (1988), two segments of the 1993 Showtime anthology Body Bags, In the Mouth of Madness (1994), Village of the Damned (1995), Escape From L.A. (1996), Vampires (1998) and Ghosts of Mars (2001).

During that 1987-2001 stretch, the only other cinematographer on a Carpenter feature was six-time Oscar nominee William Fraker (on 1992's Memoirs of an Invisible Man).

Kibbe "has an enormous ability inside of him that you can't really quantify. He can really light scenes," Carpenter said years ago. "The old cliche is, 'Like a painter.' That Gary truly is."

Kibbe was born on Jan. 9, 1941, in Glendale. His father worked in special photographic effects at Hal Roach Studios, and in a 1996 interview with American Cinematographer magazine, he recalled his dad bringing him to the set of The Gale Storm Show in the 1950s. “As soon as I grabbed the wheels of the camera, it just set off a spark,” he said.

A graduate of North Hollywood High School, Kibbe started out at Warner Bros. in the mailroom in 1959 and eventually made his way to the camera department. His first film as an operator was Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came (1970), followed by such films as Coffy (1973), Convoy (1978), The Hollywood Knights (1980), Star 80 (1983) and Sixteen Candles (1984).

His résumé also included work on Alien3 (1992), A Few Good Men (1992), RoboCop 3 (1993), Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), Virtuosity (1995) and The Crow: City of Angels (1996).