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John Carpenter
| Sunday, 03.18.2018, 01:57 AM |   (31851 views)

John Carpenter

By Ed Donovan

John Carpenter and Halloween changed the face of horror films. It has become the standard for all slasher films.

John Carpenter was here in Orlando on October 10th to receive the Lifetime Award from the Freak Show Horror Film Festival. It was here that he graciously agreed to my interview.

John Carpenter was born on January 16, 1948 in Carthage, New York, the son of Milton Carter and Howard Carpenter a music professor.

John was 5 years old when he saw It Came from Outer Space in 3-D. He says, “It scared the pants off me.  But I realized I was in a theater with my parents and nothing is going to happen to me. This major thing I just saw caused that feeling. That was pretty cool.  I realized this is what I want to do, make movies”.

He started making horror short films before entering high school. John attended Western Kentucky University and later transferred to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1968 graduating in 1971. At USC Cinema, one of his projects as co-writer, film editor and music composer, The Resurrection of Broncho Billy (1970), produced by John Longenecker, won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

His first major film as a director, was Dark Star (1974) a black comedy science fiction that he co wrote with Dan O’Bannon. Although the film didn’t do too well his efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Much of Hollywood marveled at his ability to make a film within the confines of a shoestring budget.

His next film Assault on Princent13, (1976) which he wrote, directed and scored as well as edited the film under the pseudonym John T. Chance. The name John Wayne used in Rio Bravo. This was also the first time he worked with Debra Hill who worked with John in several of his other films.

In 1978 John wrote, directed and scored Halloween from an idea suggested by producer Irwin Yablans entitled the Babysitter Murders and to make it even more frightful they centered the film on the night of Halloween which had never been done before. John says, “Whenever you make a horror film you have a great deal of fear. We are all afraid of something. We are all born crying, screaming, afraid of death, loss of a loved one, an abandonment of a parent, pain or injuries. We are all afraid of the same things. So it’s a way to speak to the world. This makes a movie that deals with our inner fears universal.”

When asked why horror films are so poplar he says, “I think they were always popular. They started way back in the beginning of cinema and they have always been with us and they are adaptable to each generation because at the bottom of it we are all afraid of the same exact things. But horror is pretty much the same as always. When you look at it there are a few really good movies, there are a few fair movies, and mostly really bad movies. It’s always kind of been that way. Some of the films I really enjoy some horror films I enjoy a lot. Some not so much. It really depends on the talent of the story teller, the director and what he brings to it.”

On making horror films John says, “When you make a drama or comedy it’s a nightmare. Because the subject matter everyone gets very serious, especially a comedy. But a horror movie everybody starts loosening up and the more blood you bring up and the more people get killed the crew is laughing. It’s a picnic.”

John worked with a relatively small budget on Halloween, $ 320,000. The film grossed over $65 million initially, making it one of the most successful independent films of all times.

Along with the films crucial and commercial success, the strongest legacy is the film’s original score by Carpenter; it remains one of the most recognizable film music themes of all time along with the notable John William’s Jaws. His music is generally synthesized with accompaniment from piano and atmospherics.

With a career that has spanned over thirty years, John Carpenter has attained respect as an independent filmmaker by Robert Rodriguez, Paul W.S. Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo Del Toro and Quentin Tarantino.

John Carpenter was the subject of the documentary film, John Carpenter: The Man and His Movies. In 2006, the United Sates Library of Congress deemed Halloween to be culturally significant and selected if for preservation in the National Film Registry.

John Carpenter has been married to producer Sandy King since 1990. King has produced a number of Carpenter’s films.

For more on John Carpenters films go to IMDB: John Carpenter

Ed Donovan is a SAG-AFTRA member since 1982. He is a Writer, Biographer, Producer, Director, Screenwriter and the Editor of the Award winning online magazine, In Focus- Magazine. The magazine is linked World Wide with writers and readers throughout the World. For more on Ed Donovan go to IMDB,

Ed Donovan can be reached at


Ed Donovan

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