Why Making Movies Is Horrifying, According To John Carpenter

Halloween Michael Meyers knife at the bannister

For a man that made some of the most terrifying horror thrillers known to man, John Carpenter finds himself horrified about one thing in particular: making movies. In fact, he finds it so horrifying that he's switched over to the "purer" art form of music, which seems to be serving him rather well. So what could the man with two albums of original compositions on the market, a third album compiling his movie themes on the way, and a concert tour already underway find so scary about making a movie? Well, we'll let Carpenter himself explain:

Making movies is horrifying. Horrifyingly stressful. You've got all these people, and you have to pay them! They're on the clock, you have to finish, and you're always on deadline. Movies are a complex form of art and storytelling.

While the medium of film is something that John Carpenter has used to great effect, and one that I have more than a passing bias towards, I have to agree with pretty much all of Carpenter's assessment. Films like Halloween or Escape From New York certainly weren't created in a vacuum, and even when you talk about any film outside of the Carpenter canon, you can still apply these horrors in some way or another. Production schedules give way to deadlines, which then give way to release dates that cost time and money if they're not met. So the time aspect of getting a movie right can be painful.

And then there's the other part of the movie-making equation that freaks out John Carpenter, which is the pay and staffing aspect. It's one thing for a person to have a singular vision they work to craft on their own, but it's a totally different thing to have to instruct everyone else on set about that vision. Whether they get it right or wrong, whatever happens the studio has to pay the folks working on movies. Which is obviously fair, but still lands on a director's shoulders if a movie like Ghosts of Mars happens to be a semi-huge or huge flop.

But in music, a world where John Carpenter has always been at home and free to experiment with, there's less risk. While there's still complexities in the art of compositions, there's fewer people involved with the creation of a song. So in that most important respect, Carpenter's claim that music is purer is definitively correct. Halloween the movie was harder to commit to film than its theme song was to be put on paper, and while Carpenter had some feedback on a couple of the sequels, the series still permutated farther and farther away from his initial vision with each sequel and remake. But what never changed to the point of non-recognition was his iconic signature tune, the herald of many a fall celebration or spooky gathering. If that's not the proof that music is a purer, more resilient art form, we don't know what is.

However, John Carpenter isn't writing movies off completely; rather he's told The Wrap that he's just more laissez-faire when it comes to the prospect of stepping behind the camera again. Ultimately, if the right project comes along, he'll jump in with both feet forward. But at the same time, he's not chasing film work as intently as a younger director in his shoes might. Though he has been revisiting some old friends, what with Carpenter's announcement that he'll be helping out with the new Halloween reboot, as well as his most recent directorial work being a video he made for the theme to Christine. You can watch the latter for yourself below.

John Carpenter's latest album, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974 -- 1998, will be available starting tomorrow, with his two other albums, Lost Themes and Lost Themes II, already available for purchase. But if you really want to enjoy the master of horror's music, you can see him performing at one of the many venues on his current concert tour.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.