What is there to say about John carpenter that hasn’t already been said? The man single handedly created the slasher film when he made “Halloween” and gave us one of the first true icons in the Horror genre in Micheal Myers, he directed the nerve shatteringly tense and gore filled “The Thing” and was also the mastermind behind such cult classics as “The Fog”, “Assault on Precinct 13”, “Escape From New York” and the criminally under-rated “Prince Of Darkness”(seriously, this film is AWESOME, more people need to see it!)
We managed to get the opportunity to have a quick chat with Mr. Carpenter as he was about to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Freak Show Horror Film Festival. Here’s our chat in full.Enjoy!
Hi John, How are you?
I’m fine, thanks.
On October 10th you are set to receive the Lifetime achievement award from the Freak Show Horror Film Festival. You must be excited?
Yes, I’m flattered.
Having won so many awards over your career, do they still mean as much to you?
Awards are always terribly meaningful for a director. It’s a rough and tough profession; any expressions of love are welcome indeed.
You took a long break from film making after Ghosts’s of Mars.Why did you decide to take the break then?
After GHOSTS OF MARS, I was exhausted and burned-out. I needed to stop for awhile for my health. Movie-making had stopped being fun. I needed to find out what is was that I first loved about it(film making).
You returned to direct an episode of Masters Of Horror. How was that experience?
I loved directing CIGARETTE BURNS, my episode of Masters of Horror. It was a perfect re-entry into directing for me. The second episode, PRO-LIFE, was equally rewarding. I credit Mick Garris for setting it up at Showtime.
You then returned to directing with the well received “The Ward”. What made you get back in the directors chair?
THE WARD was a perfect movie for me to return to feature film directing. It was low-budget, contained, had a young talented cast and location shooting
What was it about the Sci-Fi and Horror genre that go you interested in it?
I grew up watching sci-fi and horror films in the 50’s. I was in love with the genre. It shaped my initial commitment to directing movies.
Halloween was a ground breaking film. What inspired the story?
HALLOWEEN was an assignment; it was the distributor’s idea. He (Irwin Yablans) wanted a story of teenage babysitters menaced by a serial killer. Debra Hill and I wrote the screenplay. We made the killer, Michael Myers, evil personified, a force of nature rather than a man. It worked out!
How do you feel about the once terrifying Micheal Myers being almost a caricature after a string of poor sequels?
The only really great thing about the HALLOWEEN sequels is that I get to do nothing. This is a job I’ve aspired to all my life.
How did you feel about Rob Zombie’s remake? I personally like the first remake but the sequel didn’t do much for me.
Rob Zombie is a friend of mine, so I won’t comment on his HALLOWEEN and its sequel
Of all the remakes of your movies, what was your favorite/least favorite?
I enjoyed the remake of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13.
Is there any of your films that you would personally like to see re-made?I was always a hug fan of “Prince of Darkness” and would chose that?
I think you should direct a sequel to PRNCE OF DARKNESS. I will support you emotionally. Financially, you’ll have to support me.
Fair enough! Not sure if I’m qualified but I do like a challenge!What do you think of the current crop of horror and sci-fi movies and the state of the genre as a whole?
Current horror movies; most are bad, a few are good, and occasionally there is an excellent one.
What are your favorite horror and sci-fi films?Is there any in particular that scare you?
My favorite sci-fi and horror films are from the 1950s: THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THEM, THE FLY, HORROR OF DRACULA, THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT
What elements do you see as vital to creating a “scary movie”?
Scares have to come naturally out of the story.
Personally, I feel music is one of, if not , the biggest factors. Your music, especially in Halloween, always helps create such a strong, foreboding atmosphere. Do you have any particular writing techniques when it comes to scoring a film?
I write one or two themes, and then improvise the rest of the score to the film
What composers would you like to work with?
Hans Zimmer and Mark Killian.
Do you ever write music that isn’t intended as a score, just as individual songs?
Whats projects are you working on now?
I have several projects in development. Nothing is set yet. I’m most excited about the start of the NBA basketball season in November.
Haha, alot of people are! Thanks for your time John!
For all the latest on John Carpenters latest projects (and even his feeling on the new NBA season) please check out John Carpenter’s official website