Carpenter, originally wanting to direct Westerns, discusses some of his favorite American filmmakers.
Part one of four.
Shock Till You Drop interviews John Carpenter.
Carpenter opens up about the industry, his fellow directors (and the new blood), horror fatigue, upcoming projects and whether he has anything left to say through the craft of filmmaking anymore.
Sound of Fear is a celebration of the music and sound design of the horror film, taking place in London’s Southbank Centre on September 3 and involving an eminent international cast of artists, critics and composers.
The two-part event, staged by Sound And Music, will feature live performances and discussions focussing on the historical developments and cultural significance of horror movie music, including “the introduction of the European avant garde into popular culture via the Hammer pictures of the 50s, Bernard Herrmann’s redefinition of how horror was heard with his revolutionary score for Hitchcock’s Psycho and the influence of John Carpenter’s atmospheric genre scores of the late 70s and early 80s on a new wave of musicians working today.”
Wish I could go!
When I was young, I was frightened of everything. I was able to take that fear and turn it into a lucrative career. There is nothing wrong with that. Better than being a masked killer," says Carpenter, 63.
John Carpenter interviewed for Masters of Horror.
With the advent of affordable synthesisers came the rise of the cheap synth score. In 1978, John Carpenter was putting the finishing touches to his third low-budget feature, Halloween. Being fond of synthesisers, and knowing his way around a piano, he elected to save money by writing and performing the score himself; a decision that helped turn his simple, elegantly shot slasher film into one of the biggest independent hits of the 1970s. For the devastatingly effective main theme, Carpenter employs an insistent metronomic pulse, but with a twist; the piano taps out five beats to the bar (shades of prog rock again). Meanwhile, the synthesiser provides a rapid “ticker-ticker-ticker-ticker” in the background. This, combined with the oblique 5/4 time signature, instils a jittery sense of something moving at the periphery of your attention, perfectly in keeping with Carpenter’s canny use of widescreen framing to create menace.
From Goblin to Morricone: The art of horror movie music. Stephen Thrower, for The Guardian.
This is a very cool article.
Can you talk about the influence of horror techniques beyond the bounds of the genre?
Anyone who watches American news can see that our culture is driven to a large extent by fear. Hillary Clinton’s most effective attack ad, in her 2008 primary run against Barack Obama, asked the audience who would they trust to answer the tough phone call at 3am. What was startling about the visual vocabulary of the commercial is that it precisely echoed the classic opening of John Carpenter’s 1978 babysitter-killer slasher “Halloween”. When we have nightmares they look like horror movies from the 1970s. Once the ad aired Clinton’s poll numbers improved.
More Intelligent Life interviews Jason Zinoman, author of Shock Value.
I also liked this bit:
Why do you think there are so few female horror directors?
This is a fascinating question. The honest answer is that I have no clue. Kathryn
Bigelow made one of the best vampire movies of all time (“Near Dark”), and there are other female directors, but not many. The fact is Hollywood is a boy’s club and institutional sexism is a problem in many genres, but horror has long been considered a particularly male genre. Yet there is now an undeniably huge female audience for horror. The smartest horror criticism is also written by a woman (Laura Miller, who mainly covers books). Cynthia Freeland’s “The Naked and the Undead is one of the most sophisticated books about horror films I’ve read in the past few years. We would have much better movies if we had more of a female perspective on screen. It was recently announced that they are remaking “Carrie”. That seems like an excellent opportunity to start balancing the scales.
Trailer for F.E.A.R. 3 with John Carpenter and Steve Niles talking about their work on the story.