Famed Horror Director John Carpenter Discusses College Exit, the ‘Barbie’ Phenomenon, and True Crime Storytelling

by Michael Nguyen
John Carpenter Interview

John Carpenter, a name inextricably linked with the realm of fictional horror, is at the age of 75 venturing into the sphere of real-life horror through his upcoming show, “John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams.” The renowned filmmaker, celebrated for seminal works such as “Halloween” and “The Thing,” engaged in a comprehensive interview with The Big Big News prior to the debut of this non-scripted anthology series. The interview is set to air on the Peacock network on the fitting date of Friday, October 13, and has been edited for coherence and conciseness.

AP: The advent of the internet has greatly expanded access to educational resources. This is particularly interesting given your previous comments on how film school played a role in your understanding of movie-making.

Carpenter: Indeed, the landscape has evolved dramatically. From the technology to the business model, everything has undergone significant change. Had I been embarking on my career today, I would be starting from scratch. The techniques and tools I learned, everything from camera work to sound editing, have been replaced or modernized. For instance, analog sound systems have given way to digital technologies.

AP: Did you have any hesitations when you decided to leave film school?

Carpenter: I was resolute in my decision to exit academic life and initiate my professional journey.

AP: There seems to be growing academic interest in the horror genre, transcending even film studies. It appears that the genre is undergoing a renaissance, spearheaded by directors like Jordan Peele.

Carpenter: Peele’s films are indeed commendable. Each generation reinterprets the horror genre to align with its own zeitgeist. It is an ever-evolving medium. While it has often been stigmatized, the genre continues to hold cultural relevance.

AP: Have you explored any video games lately?

Carpenter: I’ve been engaged with the “Fallout” series for quite some time and am anticipating the release of the new “Assassin’s Creed” installment.

AP: Video games seem to be experiencing a similar kind of reevaluation as an art form.

Carpenter: I concur. Contrary to Roger Ebert’s assertion that video games can never be art, I view them as an artistic medium in their own right.

AP: Your new project involves real-life horror narratives. Could you elucidate on the factors that influenced this transition?

Carpenter: I’ve chosen to focus on the experiences of survivors rather than perpetrators in this series, a perspective I have not previously explored. The series is remotely directed, a process I found extremely rewarding and intend to pursue again.

AP: How do you select the stories to be featured?

Carpenter: Our research team scours available narratives, and we opt for the ones that captivate us the most. For instance, the tale of a woman being stalked for six years without resolution struck me as utterly bewildering.

AP: With recent upheavals in Hollywood, particularly the strikes, how do you perceive the current state of the industry?

Carpenter: The industry is a mixed bag—while some facets are flourishing, others face challenges. Films like “Barbie,” which grossed $1 billion globally, indicate progress, although its appeal eludes me. Despite the shifting dynamics, my passion for cinema remains steadfast. Regardless of where the industry is headed, my devotion to the art form is unchanging.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about John Carpenter Interview

What is the main focus of John Carpenter’s new show, “John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams”?

The main focus of John Carpenter’s new show is real-life horror stories. Unlike his previous works, which are fictional, this anthology series aims to explore true stories, particularly focusing on the experiences of survivors rather than perpetrators.

How has the evolution of technology impacted John Carpenter’s view on filmmaking?

John Carpenter acknowledges that technological advancements have dramatically changed the filmmaking landscape. He notes that if he were to start his career today, he would be doing so from scratch, as the tools and techniques he learned have been significantly modernized.

Did John Carpenter have any reservations about leaving film school?

No, John Carpenter was quite resolute in his decision to leave film school. He was keen on beginning his professional career and felt that the academic environment was no longer necessary for him.

What is John Carpenter’s opinion on the academic study of the horror genre?

John Carpenter believes that the horror genre is undergoing a renaissance and gaining academic interest. He thinks each generation reinterprets horror to fit its own cultural zeitgeist and that the genre holds enduring relevance despite past stigmatization.

What are John Carpenter’s views on video games as an art form?

John Carpenter believes that video games are an art form in their own right, contrasting with film critic Roger Ebert’s view that video games can never be considered art.

How does John Carpenter perceive the current state of the Hollywood industry?

Carpenter sees the Hollywood industry as a mixed bag. While some aspects are thriving, others face challenges. He highlights the commercial success of the film “Barbie” as indicative of progress, although its appeal eludes him personally.

How are stories selected for “John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams”?

The show has a research team that finds potential stories. The most captivating and interesting stories are then chosen for inclusion. One such example is a narrative about a woman who was stalked for six years without resolution, a story Carpenter finds bewildering.

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FilmBuff October 29, 2023 - 9:42 am

Interesting how Carpenter views the state of Hollywood. Barbie making a billion, lol. Times are changing for sure but he seems open to it.

GameOn October 29, 2023 - 11:13 am

So Carpenter plays Fallout and is looking forward to Assassin’s Creed? The man’s got taste. and him saying video games are art, amen to that.

Sam_The_Critic October 29, 2023 - 8:46 pm

Remote directing from his living room, now that’s a COVID-era adaptation if I ever saw one. Can’t wait to see what else he comes up with next.

Mike_J October 30, 2023 - 2:41 am

Wow, Carpenter is really shifting gears, huh? Going from slasher flicks to real life horror, thats a change. Curious how that will play out.

TrueCrimeFan October 30, 2023 - 6:35 am

The focus on survivors in “Suburban Screams” sounds intriguing. Enough about the killers, let’s hear more from those who made it through.

Cinephile101 October 30, 2023 - 7:00 am

Tech has changed the game for sure. carpenter saying he’d have to start from scratch if he began now, that’s something. Makes ya think.

HorrorQueen October 30, 2023 - 7:15 am

Academic study of horror, finally! Always thought the genre is underappreciated. Good to see big names like Carpenter agree.


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