Behind the Lens: John Carpenter

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As you all know from my constant barrage of status updates, this nerd made the horror pilgrimage all the way to Cincinnati for one of the premiere horror conventions, Horror Hound weekend. Within in the walls of the Sharonville Convention Center were so many iconic characters that I couldn’t wait to meet, but in the end there was only one that I knew I had to meet…John Carpenter.

That’s right, one of the few masters of horror was in attendance to Horror Hound weekend and he was kind enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions. My palms were sweating as I sat waiting for him to finish another interview. I could barely make out Carpenter’s answers but he seemed to be having a good time indulging the fan girl interviewing him, so all I could hope is that he would feel the same when my time came.

Well, my time did finally come and while I only had five minutes to speak with Mr. Carpenter, they were the most magical five minutes ever. While it may be completely possible that I’m over romanticizing the experience, I don’t really care because I was able to interview one of my icons and you weren’t. All right, that was little uncalled for and I’m sorry. Friends forever again? Okay, good. Now it’s time to delve into the mind of the man that birthed one of the most terrifying characters in cinematic history, John Carpenter.

NSW:  So, what I’d like to talk about is Halloween. It’s been 35 years since Halloween first premiered…

JC: Wow.

NSW: Does it feel like it’s been that long to you?

JC: Yes! Yeah, every year of it. That was a long time ago and I was a different person then.

NSW: Many people have said that Halloween ruined babysitting for them like Jaws ruined swimming. What is it about Halloween and Michael Meyers that make them so terrifying 35 years later?

JC: Well, I don’t know. I wrote kind of a post-modern horror film. I tried to change Michael Meyers from other characters and that he’s part human, part supernatural. You’re not ever quite sure what he really is. He’s evil personified. So, that’s what I was trying to do. And try to pay a little homage to Halloween, one of my favorite holidays.

NSW: During filming did you ever feel that this movie would be as big as it’s become?

JC: Nobody had a clue. Nobody.

NSW: What was it that drew you to this film?

JC: Money… And a chance to direct a movie. That’s what I was in town for.

NSW: What was it you saw in Jamie Lee Curtis for the role of Laurie Strode? Was she your first choice for the role?

JC: She read for us and she was under contract at Universal at the time and was just perfect. She said later that she was all three of the characters. She was a cheerleader and she was Nancy Loomis’ character. She was just delightful. I had to cast her.

NSW: I met her back in November and she was just unbelievable.

JC: Yeah

NSW: With Dr. Loomis being such an important character, did you have a hard time casting that role? Was Donald Pleasance always the first choice?

JC: I wanted Peter Cushing and I wanted Christopher Lee and they both turned me down. So we found Donald.

NSW: After seeing Jamie Lee’s and Donald’s performances can you even imagine anyone else in those roles?

JC: No, no, no.

NSW: Something I find quite impressive is that you were a triple threat on this film. Did you feel a lot of pressure writing, directing and composing the film?

JC: Yes. Yes, big time. But on Halloween I had more time to score that movie than I did on Assault on Precinct 13. I had three days to score on Halloween, I had one day on Assault. One day.

NSW: One of my favorite parts of Halloween is the theme song.

JC: Thank you

NSW: It’s so simple and terrifying. Where did you find the inspiration for the theme?

JC:  My father taught me five four time on a pair of bongos. I just decided to do it on the piano

NSW: My favorite scene has to be the opening scene. The single shot added so much suspense to the moment and then the reveal that Michael was just a child made it even more terrifying. Are there any scenes that you had the most fun filming?

JC: The most fun filming? Wow, that’s tough. I’m probably the proudest of the opening because there are two shots in the opening really; the one long shot through the house and then the crane up from the kid. We had one night to shoot that.

NSW: Throughout the years and multiple sequels, were you ever tempted to return to the franchise?

JC: No. I just never thought there was more story to tell.

NSW: If you were making Halloween today instead of back in the seventies do you think you would do it differently or would we have the same movie we’ve all come to adore?

JC: No, same movie.

NSW: With so many of your films being highly revered, do you find it a compliment that so many are being remade?

JC: Again, I’m complimented if they pay me money to be remade. That’s my favorite thing.

NSW: If I may ask, what did you think of Rob Zombie’s take on Halloween?

JC: I have no comment

NSW: Are there any projects in the works that you can tell me about?

JC: I have a couple things I’m working on, but nothing to announce right now. I’m very seriously involved in the upcoming NBA playoffs. I’m there for every one of them.

NSW: I really just want to say thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

JC: Thank you. It was delightful.

I just want to end this interview by saying thank you to all who took the time to read it and thank you to John Carpenter, where ever you are. You completely made this nerd’s day. And just in case you all don’t believe me (like I would lie to you all) I’ve included my proof below. May the nerd be with you all! 

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