John Carpenter’s Response To Being Asked About A24 Movies Should Amuse Horror Fans

John Carpenter as The Coroner in Body Bags
(Image credit: Showtime)

It is a great time to be a horror fan, as the genre has been going through a bit of a resurgence of late. This includes long-standing franchises getting revitalized for a new era. One of the horror franchises with the longest (and wildest) legacies is the Halloween series, beginning in 1978 with the original - which also just so happens to be one of the best horror movies of all time, and the latest entry, Halloween Ends, almost upon us. On that note, it turns out the original film's director, the wonderfully self-deprecating John Carpenter, had an amusing response when being asked about the type of horror the public gets in A24 movies.

John Carpenter sat down for an interview with The AV Club, where he discussed everything from his love of gaming to his career as a composer and executive producing the latest Halloween films. The interview becomes quite humorous when the interviewer's questions on elevated horror led to this exchange: 

Interviewer: Shifting gears slightly: Are you familiar with the phrase 'elevated horror?'

John Carpenter: I don't know what that means. I mean, I can guess what it means, but I don't really know.

Interviewer: People usually use it to refer to A24's movies, horror that's very heavy on the metaphorical. Hereditary, Midsommar, movies like that.

JC: I have no idea what you're talking about.

Interviewer: Fair enough!

JC:  But I hear you, I hear you. There's metaphorical horror. But all movies have … they don't have messages. They have themes. Thematic material, and some horror films have thematic material. The good ones do.

This is an excellent answer from the director because the topic of elevated horror has been hotly debated by horror fans over the past few years. Some look for nothing more than thrills and kills in their scary movies, whereas other fans are looking for something more cerebral. Some consider anything made by Hereditary and Midsommar director Ari Aster to be a brilliant horror piece, while others don't believe Aster's films are scary because they don't have the traditional jump scares and can come off as being bogged down in trying too hard to have a theme. Carpenter's answer seems to suggest all good movies should have a theme. 

The director went on to say:

"When a scary scene comes along, we should be scary. It all depends on what we're looking at on the screen. That balance is done by the director. [Referring to himself and his composing team] We're just carpet. We're just carpet men here. Your hardwood floors need a carpet? We provide it."

John Carpenter is known for being modest, but I think he sells himself short when he compares what he does as merely providing carpet. Music can make or break a film. Can you imagine any Halloween movie without Carpenter's iconic theme?

However, I love John Carpenter's answer regarding elevated horror because, whether he meant for it or not, I think he cut through all the noise surrounding the discussion. While I am a fan of many of the films A24 releases, I'm not a fan of how elitist the discussion of elevated horror can often feel. Why can't you love Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives just as much as The Witch (albeit for different reasons) without drawing a line in the sand in types of horror films that deserve respect?

Like Carpenter, I think scary movies should be scary, and all the good ones have a theme. However, I just so happen to believe the Stephen King-directed 1987 cult classic Maximum Overdrive is good in its way, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a film further away from the word 'elevated' than it. 

You can listen to Carpenter's latest musical offering when Halloween Ends hits theaters and streaming (for everyone with a Peacock subscription) on October 14. As far as the overall horror landscape goes, whether you're looking for the return of a long-running franchise, including  a new Exorcist trilogy reportedly around the corner, a blend of horror-comedy like what the Jordan Peele movies serve up, or something entirely new and unexpected like the bonkers Barbarian, 2022 and 2023 has a slew of upcoming horror releases to whet your appetite.

For news on all other upcoming movie release dates, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.

Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing.