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Flashback Weekend 2012: John Carpenter Panel Highlights Part Two

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Chicago’s Flashback Weekend 2012 celebrated the legacy of one of the genre’s premier Masters of Horror- John Carpenter, and this writer was lucky to be on hand as one of the con’s co-hosts. Here’s Part Two of our coverage from the highly entertaining panel with Carpenter.

In this installment Carpenter chats with moderator Nick Digilio of WGN Radio in Chicago as well as numerous fans in attendance at the standing room only panel about several of his classic films like Escape from New York, Christine and They Live; what sparked his musical career throughout the years; what he would want his next project to be if he could pick anything and a whole gaggle of other entertaining topics.

In case you missed it, click here for Part One, and then check out the second part of our John Carpenter panel coverage from Flashback Weekend below!

Flashback Weekend 2012: John Carpenter Panel Highlights Part Two

Question: A bit of a technical question for you. On Escape from New York, the lighting scenario on that, you’re shooting high speed negative, was there anything else to it? Because the images are incredibly crisp for the low light levels, I was just wondering what else you used to achieve that.

John Carpenter: That was it. That was the whole secret. You could shoot in Panavision, anamorphic movies, at 2/8 or below, sometimes at 1/8. The only problem was focus. We had several shots, because the focus was so critical in anamorphic that we couldn’t use, because if an actor would move a certain way he’d be out of focus. But we didn’t really know more than that. Dean Cundey is a great cameraman even in low light. That’s really the whole secret.

Question: In Escape From New York, how did you get the establishing shots of blacked out New York seeing as you shot it in Missouri?

John Carpenter: Gee, I don’t remember. I think that was a model or matte painting, I’m not sure. We did shoot in New York. We shot the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. But I don’t remember, sorry.

Question: One of my favorite films of yours is They Live because of its political undertones. If you were to make They Live in the current political climate, how would you change it and would it be more of a comedy than a horror film?

John Carpenter: Well, the 80s have not gone away. It’s still with us. We all kind of experienced the downsides of unrestrained capitalism in 2008 and 2009 with the recession. But if you look at the political landscape, and you look at the value system in America, it’s not changed at all. So, I think it’s too tragic to make a comedy out of it. But anyway, that was years ago. It’s a new age, let’s move on.

Question: Speaking of They Live, they’re finally getting the Blu-ray out in November. Did you contribute anything to the new Blu-ray?

John Carpenter: No, they never tell me anything. But they did ask me to come in and shoot question and answer on video. It was a little barrage on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, across the street from where my son used to go to school. It was a couple of guys sitting there; they shot and asked me some questions. I don’t recommend this particular documentary because I didn’t have anything good to say. But it’s going to look pretty good because Blu-ray is high def.

Question: If you had carte blanche, green light, full budget, final cut, what would be your next project?

John Carpenter: Oh man, I don’t think I want that responsibility anymore. You know what, I’ve always wanted to write a little bit more than I have in a long time. If I had carte blanche I’d take a couple years off and sit down and write some more, that’s probably what I’d do.

Question: Just wondering who your inspiration was in the music that you and Alan Howarth created.

John Carpenter: From classical music, from old movie music, it’s just the added synthesizers that changed things. Rock and roll, synth driven rock and roll. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, that kind of thing. That’s where it all came from. And then the early pioneers of synth music, some of the music from The Exorcist, some of Jack Piche’s early stuff was really great stuff.

Question: Your son is a musician; he did the music for “Cigarette Burns” and “Pro-Life.” Do you play with him a lot?

John Carpenter: Yes he is. We do, we play all the time.

Question: One of my favorite films of yours is Christine; I think it’s one of your best horrors. Also, it has such a strong performance from Keith Gordon, who I think is really underrated. Were you kind of mentoring him? Because he became quite a good director himself.

John Carpenter: No, I had nothing to do with his talent. As a matter of fact he should ignore me. Keith has become a great director. He’s done a lot of work with “Dexter,” I don’t know if any of you have seen that. He’s just a terrific director and a great actor, too. He says that the thing he learned from me was just to relax and have a good time on the set.

Question: When Christine kills all the people that smashed her up in the garage, and she’s going down that dark road, is that car being towed or is someone actually driving that? Also, Christine is alive at the end, why didn’t you ever make a sequel?

John Carpenter: Well, the first thing is that the car is being driven by the legendary stunt man Terry Leonard. He’s all in a Nomex suit, a fire suit. The problem with driving the car was that if we engulfed the car in flames, the engine would die; there’s no oxygen, so we couldn’t light it all the way. So it’s being driven.

And why didn’t I make a sequel? It didn’t make enough money to warrant one. If it did, we would have.

Question: One of the things I’ve always loved about in The Thing was that there was never one definitive form; every time we saw it, it was something else. Was that kind of freeing not to have to snap it back to something or was that harder to keep coming up with new looks for it?

John Carpenter: Freeing? Absolutely. The perfect thing at the time for us because we didn’t have to make it look like anything. The studio kept trying, obsessing saying, “You have to show the original monster.” Well, no, you don’t. Let’s not do that.

Question: Can you give me one good reason why you, Jeff Bridges, Kurt Russell and Rowdy Roddy Piper don’t get together, fuck the money, and just do something?

John Carpenter: Well, I have a one word answer for you. Ego. *laughs*

Question: I took a couple of film courses, and my instructor mentioned how Morricone’s scores sort of wrote the films themselves, because the score was so influencing that they would write scenes for it. When you would do the score for one of your movies, would the music sort of move the story forward?

John Carpenter: Well, in my case the music was the last thing we did after cutting the movie, it was a complete afterthought. In other words, it was only done to support the sequences. When I would do music, every once in a while I’d come up with a theme or two the night beforehand. But in most cases what you’re hearing is improvised. It’s on the day, and I’d watch what we cut together, and I’d just try to improve the scenes. Morricone, for instance, recorded all the music for Once Upon a Time in the West before the movie was made. So Leone would play it on the set for the actors, it was great. I didn’t do that.

Question: I was wondering if you could reminisce on what it was like working with the amazing Donald Pleasence and if you could share a story or two with us.

John Carpenter: Well, Donald was a close friend of mine. When I first met him I was frightened of him. He was big hero of fine; he was a character actor from the old days. He agreed to do the movie. I met him at…I believe it was the Hamburger Hamlet in Los Angeles, which is no longer there. I met him, I was extremely excited, and he said “I don’t know why I’m doing this movie. I don’t understand this movie.” I didn’t say anything. He said, “The only reason I’m here to work your film is because my daughter is in a rock and roll band in England and she liked the music to Assault on Precinct 13. But that’s the only reason.” Which made me more terrified of him.

But I finally found out who Donald was. Donald just needed to be wanted. He wanted to know that the director cared to have him and wanted him for the part. Once I understood that we really became close friends. He was a wonderful, wonderful man. Self-defacing, humorous, and I’m really sorry he’s gone.

Question: Was he your first choice for Halloween? Because I had heard it was Peter Cushing.

John Carpenter: Peter Cushing and then Christopher Reeve. They both turned it down.

Question: What are the chances you’ll work with Kurt Russell again in the future and was Escape from Earth really close to a possibility of ever being made?

John Carpenter: Well, the chances of working with Kurt, you never know. And, no, Escape from Earth was just bullshit between the two of us.

Question: Was there ever a sequel planned or devised for Prince of Darkness?

John Carpenter: No.

Question: Are we going to have a Thing 2? And what’s Snake Plissken up to?

John Carpenter: Well, if there was a Thing 2, not a prequel but a sequel to the movie that I made, I would recommend all of you get the limited series from the 80s, The Thing, the Dark Horse comic series. It’s a fantastic story. It begins with Childs and MacReady walking across the snow, they’re discovered. It’s just incredible.

And are we going to see Snake Plissken? Well, we might because I think they’re going to remake the film. They’re going to remake it with a new actor. But they’re paying me! They’re paying me!

Question: I remember that you played and enjoyed video games. About 10 years ago there was a video game of The Thing, which was a sequel to your movie. Did you play that game?

John Carpenter: Yeah, as a matter of fact I’m a character in that game. Yes, I have played it, although they didn’t go too in depth. They just took some photos of me. I’m a scientist that gets killed later on, of course.

Question: What is some advice you could give to upcoming directors?

John Carpenter: Well, one of the key elements to being a director is perseverance; you have to stick with it. And having enormous ego strength because the world’s going to try to tear the shit out of you. And if you withstand it you’ll be all right. That’s the biggest thing I can tell you.

Question: I think all the scores in your films are incredible. Do you do the scores for your films because of budget reasons or is it because you know what’s best for your films?

John Carpenter: Well, I started because of budget reason, you’re exactly right. I was cheap and I was fast. I could sound big because I used synthesizers. We couldn’t afford a real orchestra, nobody could afford that. So that’s how it started.

As I remember, on Assault on Precinct 13, we recorded the score in one day, Halloween in three days. That was a big deal. And then when I started working later with Alan Howarth, we would literally do it while watching the movie. And I kept doing it and it just became a tradition until finally…in the last film I made for a studio, Ghosts of Mars, there was a making of. And it showed me on the set and I looked okay. Then it showed me sitting in the recording studio finishing the music, and I looked like walked over shit. That’s because it was exhausting. It’s a whole new creative process that you start, from scratch. After you’ve directed and sometimes written a movie and now you’ve got to start all over again. I thought, “I’m getting too old for this, this too is hard.” So, if I could possibly help it, I would hire other, more talented people.

Question: Did you tell Ennio Morricone to use synthesizers on The Thing soundtrack? And why the hell are you in The Fog?

John Carpenter: In the movie The Fog? Hey, dude, what do you want? *laughs*

Ennio Morricone played several pieces that he wrote, and I said, “Less notes, less complicated. Simpler, please, just simple.” So he came up with the opening theme. Then later he came to California and watched parts of the film and composed beautiful interstitial pieces which I loved.

But why am I in The Fog? I don’t fuckin’ know.

Question: I loved In the Mouth of Madness and Prince of Darkness, they are masterful. But I also noticed that you have the idea of the unstoppable evil, which seems to harken back to Lovecraft. Can you comment on that?

John Carpenter: I have an ultimate concern for mankind. I have a feeling, and this is all based on faith, that we’re going to be all right. But there’s an enormously pessimistic side to me. All I have to do is look around the world and see how cruel it is. That’s where a lot of this stuff comes from. And the unstoppable evil that you’re seeing, in real life, is human evil and how overwhelming it is. Lovecraft was about ancestral gods that used to roam the earth that were repelled and were going to come back. So, in a sense, I really responded to his work.

Guys, we have to wrap this up soon. I have to go meet my drug dealer. *laughs*

Question: We have so many classic horror films through all the generations and we’re kind of stuck in the era of remakes now. Are there any original horror films that you’ve seen in the last decade or two that you think can carry on and be those classic movies in the future?

John Carpenter: There are a lot of good horror movies made. A lot of them are from Europe. The last one that I saw that really stuck with me was Let the Right One In. It was an original idea originally done. It was done in a leisurely, smart way.

Nick Digilio: And of course it was remade.

John Carpenter: Yeah.

Question: What was it like working with James Woods?

John Carpenter: I really enjoyed it. After you understand who he is, and the enormous talent and improvisational nature that he brings to the movie, it’s worth it. He and I became friends. He’s a complicated guy, no doubt about it. And he’s a challenge, no doubt about it. But I really enjoyed working with him.

Question: What do you think of the Rob Zombie version of Halloween?

John Carpenter: Oh, don’t ask me that. *laughs* I can say one thing; he took on a big challenge remaking them and trying to do something different with them. What he tried to do was give the Michael Myers character an actual backstory. Whereas my whole idea was to strip character out of him, so he was a force of evil. He stuck with it, but I can’t comment on it.

Flashback Weekend 2012: John Carpenter Panel Highlights Part Two

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Danielle Harris Tried to Get Jamie Lloyd into New Halloween Movie

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One of the top films all of us are looking forward to the most here at Dread Central is Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel/reboot thing to John Carpenter’s Halloween.

The new Halloween (2018) film is written by Danny McBride and David Gordon Green and is all set to be directed by Green this year. Recently we learned that original Halloween star Jamie Lee Curtis was going to be returning to the new film.

Not only that, but Curtis’ classic character Laurie Strode would have a daughter… played by Judy Greer. But what about Danielle Harris?

After all, Harris was the star of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Curse of Michael Myers. Let alone, she had a starring role in both Rob Zombie’s remake and it’s sequel. So how about the new film?

Turns out Harris tried to get her character Jamie Llyod (aka the daughter of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode) from Halloween 4 and 5 into the new film… but she was turned down by Blumhouse and the new creative team. That sucks.

Harris was pretty bummed about the whole deal and took to Facebook recently to clear the air. You can check out quotes from her video, along with the video itself, below.

After that make sure to hit us up and let us know how much you would have liked to see Harris return to Halloween in the comments below or on social media!

“What I am bummed about is… [Laurie] has a daughter,” Harris says. “I was okay with it when she had a son… but they’re saying it’s the last one and… she has a daughter. And it’s not Jamie. It’s just kind of a bummer, I guess. I think somebody had said, it wouldn’t have hurt the movie to have Jamie reunited with [Laurie]. But that didn’t happen.”

“We did put in a call, thought it’d be kinda cool even just to have a little flashback…” She continues. “They were not interested. So. I tried.”

Blumhouse’s Halloween hits theaters October 19, 2018.

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Posted by Danielle Harris on Monday, November 6, 2017

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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Jordan Peele Is Open to the Idea of Get Out Sequel

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Recently we shared the baffling news that this year, the Golden Globes were considering writer-director Jordan Peele’s psychological horror-thriller Get Out a comedy.

Hurm. While that bit of news still doesn’t make a bit of sense to me, today we have an update on Jordan Peele’s possible sequel Get Out 2. Which is always welcome.

Deadline was recently speaking with the filmmaker and Peele told them that although he still hasn’t cracked the sequel, if he comes up with a fresh spin he would have no problem revisiting the first film.

“I haven’t decided anything yet,” Peele told the site. “I am allowing the creative part to bubble up, and not force it. I know if a follow-up is meant to happen, it will. I’m open to figuring out what it is. But I also don’t want to let down the original and its fans. I simply would not do something like that for the cash.”

Good to hear!

I don’t know about you, but if Jordan Peele does decide to revisit the world of Get Out again in the future, I will be there. After reading these comments, I have faith the man will not return unless the story deserves it. Money be damned!

Unless… the sequel is called Sell Out… Ooohh. Snap. All jokes aside, in this world of sequels and remakes, it feels pretty damn good to hear a filmmaker talk this way.

What do you think of a Get Out sequel? Do you think the first film needs a continuation? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

You can buy Get Out on Blu-ray HERE.

Synopsis:

Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.

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