With the upcoming eleventh installment in the Halloween film franchise making its way to theatres, we see the famed Master of Horror John Carpenter once again taking the helm of the film that made him a household name and returning to the genre that he redefined, nearly forty years ago. As a well respected and decorated director, writer and composer in the American Cinema scene for over 4 decades, John Carpenter, is most notably known for his work in the Horror and Scifi genres. With cult classics like Halloween, Escape From New York, The Thing and Assault on Precinct 13; as well as critical hits like Starman (which was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe in 1984), Carpenter‘s influence has impacted many filmmakers and movie goers alike. But here are 5 Things You Might Not Know About John Carpenter.
To date he has released 3 studio albums
Carpenter‘s father worked as a music teacher for much of John‘s early life, this would lead to Carpenter‘s interest in music and he would go on to compose many of his own films’ scores. In 2015 the indie label Sacred Bones Records released John Carpenter‘s first studio album titled Lost Themes. In subsequent years Carpenter would go on to release a sequel titled Lost Themes 2 (2016) and a third album titled Anthology: Movie Themes (1974-1998) (2017). Also in 2016 Carpenter for the first time went on tour as a musician. Although Carpenter is synonymous with the synthesizer, he has gone on record as stating that he has no particular interest in the synth, but that it simply provides him the means of “sounding big, with just a keyboard”. His son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies also collaborated with him on all his albums.
He was heavily influenced by Westerns
Although primarily known for his work in the horror genre, John Carpenter has stated that he had originally gotten into the film business to make Westerns, but by the time he had gotten into the business “No one was making westerns anymore….unless you were Clint Eastwood”. He was particular interested in the works of Howard Hawks, he studied the staging and techniques of Hawks early films and stated that he seemed to be without technique and that it seemed seamless and simple and that, that in itself was a difficult technique. He would pay homage to many of Hawks films by recreating scenes from Hawk’s works in his own films like Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape From New York. When creating the film Vampires, he wanted to lean towards more of the western filmmaker Sam Peckinpah, with gunslingers in an old western town and a hero in pursuit of vengeance. When creating one of his more famous characters, Snake Plisskeen, he modeled him after Clint Eastwood.
He’s a fan of video games
He has stated in interviews that he supports video games as an art form. He holds a particular interest in the Sega franchise Sonic the Hedgehog. In 1998 he composed the soundtrack titled Earth/Air for the video game Sentinel Returns, which was published for the PC and PlayStation. The popular first person shooter survival horror franchise F.E.A.R was inspired by some elements of Carpenter‘s early works and Carpenter himself not only narrated but also assisted in the development process of the 2011 release of F.E.A.R 3, assisting in the directing duties of many of the games cinematics. Carpenter has on a few occasions expressed an interest in bringing another popular horror survival game to the big screen, that game being Dead Space.
He identifies as an Atheist
Although many of his films make use of elements from the Catholic religion, Carpenter himself doesn’t subscribe to any form of religion. Often in his films the church is used as a source of sanctuary or order. Many times the main protagonist is portrayed by a Christian follower or even a Catholic Priest. On the set of his 1998 film Vampires, Carpenter stated, “I’m an atheist, but I have a great fascination with the issue over God and whether there is one or not. I come to (my belief) personally for my own reasons and my own decisions. But I respect anyone who believes anything. I don’t have the ultimate answers for anything”.
Many of his films were failures, both critically and commercially.
Although regarded as a Master of Horror and remembered as one of the greats in American Cinema, many of Carpenter‘s films have been financial bombs, been panned by critics and ignored by movie goers. A few films that were both critically and commercially panned include; The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Escape From L.A., Village of the Damned and Ghost of Mars. This would lead to Carpenter finding difficulties in finding financing for his films. Although on many of his films like Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog or Christine, Carpenter was able to turn a profit by making use of a very limited budget, despite their lukewarm or negative critical receptions. Today The Thing is listed on many top ten horror films of all time, upon its release, however, it was hated by Critics and the viewing audience and was regarded as the worst film of 1982. After the financial failure of The Thing, Carpenter lost the rights to direct the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter. He later decided to tone down his films violence i.e. Christine and would later abandon the Horror genre altogether with 1984s Starman. Starman proved to be a success but Carpenter followed it up with another box office bomb Big Trouble in Little China. Carpenter spent the next two decades struggling to find an audience before his retirement in 2010. Despite many failures along the way, Carpenter‘s films have gone on to amassing a massive Cult following. Films like; Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness and They Live, have all been re released as Special Editions and Collectors Editions.