John Carpenter is a legend – and he’s exactly the type to laugh at when you tell him that fact to his face. (In his role as co-composer on the David Gordon Green sequel to his beloved HalloweenCarpenter is likely to refer to himself and his collaborators as “carpet men,” driven to install a background element, rather than claiming a more obvious creative role.) A longtime outsider of the Hollywood system , Carpenter is well known for an irascible, self-deprecating wit and a natural brutal honesty – both of which were on display during our recent chat with him about Green’s upcoming rating. Halloween ends.
Our conversation naturally drifted, however, to one of Carpenter’s other great passions: video games, discussions of which have often made up a good part of the director’s online conversations in recent years. And that’s how it went here, as Carpenter was quick to talk about all his favorite games of 2022, which game franchise he’d bring to the screen if he had what he wanted and what he was thinking. metal gear designer Hideo Kojima, whose signature creation, Solid Snake, wears a light resemblance to Snake Plissken, the reptilian-named cinematic badass of Carpenter, of Escape from New York.
The AV Club: When You’re Watching Someone Else Halloween film to mark it, is it difficult to stay in composer mode?
John Charpentier: Well, once in a while, I will have an opinion. Sometimes I share it with David, and sometimes I keep quiet. I am a composer now. I’m supposed to make him happy. Forget me.
HOW ARE YOU : Is it hard to do?
JC: Surely not. Surely not!
AVC: With the soundtrack itself, how do you balance giving people Halloween sounds next to do something new?
JC: Actually it depends. Everything comes from the story and the characters. So if we have a new character, like we do with Halloween ends, we developed a theme for them. And we use that, but sometimes we use the old stuff. It’s all a matter of judgment and instinct. That’s all it’s about. I know it’s not very sexy to say, but judgment and instinct make all the difference.
AVC: Do you like the film?
JC: Yes. It’s a very, very interesting film.
HOW ARE YOU : Slightly shifting gears: Do you know the expression “high horror?”
JC: I don’t know what that means. I mean, I can guess what that means, but I don’t really know.
AVC: People usually use it to refer to A24 movies, horror which is very metaphorical. Hereditary, Midsommarmovies like that.
JC: I have no idea what you are talking about.
HOW ARE YOU : Fair enough!
JC: But I hear you, I hear you. There is metaphorical horror. But all movies have… they don’t have messages. They have themes. Thematic material, and some horror movies have thematic material. The good ones do.
AVC: What is the balance that needs to be struck here, between themes, and just scaring people?
JC: When a scary scene presents itself, we should be scary. It all depends on what we are looking at on the screen. This balance is made by the director. [Referring to himself and his composing team] We are just carpet. We’re just mat men here. Do your hardwood floors need a rug? We provide it.
AVC: Do you follow new horror movies at this point?
JC: Some of them. Not all of them, but some of them, of course.
HOW ARE YOU : In your recent New Yorker interviewyou spoke Leave the one on the right in.
JC: Yes, I really liked this movie. It was really interesting. And it covered new ground, which I’m always thrilled about.
AVC: One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is that you talk a lot about online video games, and I’m the games editor for the site…
JC: Oh, what a good man you are!
AVC: Thank you! First things first: what have you been playing lately?
JC: Oh, I got addicted to it Fallout 76 Game. I was addicted to it for quite a while. You know, I know there were bugs coming out, and a lot of them got squashed, but I thought that was great. It’s really fun to play. And I continue with Borderlands and Horizon: West forbidden. I love this game. Fantastic. What a design! Breathtaking.
HOW ARE YOU : It seems that you are attracted to games that are more open-world exploration games. What attracts you to these games?
JC: Well, that’s fun. Your freedom to move and do it your way. And that’s what I like To fall. There is a pattern to follow, there are missions, but you can do it differently. And they keep coming up with new missions from time to time and new ideas. It’s good. It’s really interesting. But I have time for one Crash Bandicoot and Ratchet and Clankand stuff like that too.
HOW ARE YOU : did you play new Ratchet and Clank? That of the PlayStation 5?
JC: I did it. I liked it.
HOW ARE YOU : Did you try Ring of Elden?
JC: No. It looks like a role-playing game. Is that right?
AVC: It comes from the people who did it Dark souls. It’s a role-playing game. But a kind of open world, too.
JC: Do you recommend it?
AVC: Yeah! This is on the more difficult side. But if you like going through a big interesting countryside, it’s pretty good.
JC: Maybe I’ll try that.
AVC: Have you ever considered writing an original soundtrack for a game?
JC: If someone asked me, I would definitely do it. But no one asked!
AVC: Maybe we can change that. A lot of your albums would work great with games.
JC: Thanks very much. I’d love it. That would be fun, huh? Fun for me.
AVC: The only game that was ever allowed from your work is The thing since 2002, right?
JC: Oh yeah. It is fabulous. *laughs* I love this game.
AVC: Do you know the name Hideo Kojima?
AVC: Have you met him? It has a character named Solid Snake…
JC: I know Solid Snake. I am aware of that. No, he wrote to me. I think he wrote to me instead of the company paying me anything.
HOW ARE YOU : Ha!
JC: He just said, “Hey, how are you?” But I know who he is, of course.
HOW ARE YOU : Have you played these games?
JC: Oh no. My son did. I watched them, but I didn’t play them.
HOW ARE YOU : You talked a lot about the Assassin’s Creed online games. Do you have a favorite from this series?
JC: I loved Valhalla, it was damn good. I really like the first ones, where you had to climb the towers and synchronize. I like this. And there was Assassin’s Creed: Origins, I didn’t like this game as much, because it was just… It seemed repetitive. Anyway, I don’t know. I don’t want to criticize.
HOW ARE YOU : Do you play these games primarily for the story? Or is this the game for you?
JC: It’s all about gameplay. It’s all about that. Nothing else matters. I mean, I’m going to play a poorly designed, but awesome game.
AVC: What falls under this? Badly designed, but brilliant?
JC: I can’t tell you one right away. But old games are usually not as well designed as new ones. They are not as smooth. The graphics are not as good and sophisticated. But still, they’re fun to play sometimes, you know?
HOW ARE YOU : You started playing games with sonic the hedgehog. Are there other old games that you revisit very often?
JC: Sure. Jack and Daxter. Do you remember this game? I love this game. Well, the first one especially.
HOW ARE YOU : It’s interesting, because this studio has continued to make The last of us Games. Did you play those?
JC: I have. I got stuck the last of us 2. I couldn’t start the generator. i was frustrated.
AVC: Fair enough.
JC: Well, that’s not fair! I wanted to continue! But they wouldn’t let me.
AVC: Do you have any interest in adapting a game? The last of us TV show is under construction right now…
JC: The last of us TV show?
HOW ARE YOU : Yeah, HBO does.
JC: Are you kidding me? It’s incredible. Unbelievable.
HOW ARE YOU : It was Craig Mazin, who made Chernobyl.
JC: Oh wow. Chernobyl was great.
HOW ARE YOU : Have you ever thought about adapting a game?
JC: The only one I can think of, and I’ve mentioned it before, is dead space. It would make a very good movie. I could do that.
HOW ARE YOU : Do you have a favorite from this series?
JC: Well, none of them were really good. I even like the last one, the action one that nobody else liked.
HOW ARE YOU : Are you scared while playing games?
JC: Well, I don’t like things jumping out at me and threatening my character, no! Don’t threaten my character, I want to survive. Lots of games, they penalize you for being dead. It’s one of the things I like To fall, they do not penalize you. You die again and again during a difficult mission. I like this.
HOW ARE YOU : It is also a multiplayer game. Do you interact with people on that one?
JC: I do not know. I don’t want to be ashamed of a young punk. You know, that’s what’s gonna happen, they’re gonna put me to shame. They are all better than me. I’m just trying to get out of it. I’m not so good.
HOW ARE YOU : How many hours would you say you logged in with Fallout 76?
JC: I do not know. That’s crazy. Either way, it’s really sick. I’m addicted to it. That’s too many hours, okay? It is what it is.
HOW ARE YOU : How does the game fit into your regular routine?
JC: It’s a big part of my life. I appreciate. It’s a lot more fun than making movies. This is a difficult work. It’s stressful. It’s relaxing. I will play as soon as I can.
AVC: Do you have anything that you would like to see different in modern games, anything that you would like to see changed?
JC: Oh shit no. Keep on going. Keep making great ones. That’s what I say, because they’re all good. I have no criticism to make of them. I don’t want them to do something they don’t. What they are doing is very good. I started in 1992, sonic the hedgehog. Trying to figure out how to fucking play this game. Oh my. It was hard for me. I mean, no one else, I’m sure.
AVC: These are harder games than people might remember.
JC: Oh, my God, horribly bad. Hard. The first games, you know, they were ruthless. They make it easier sometimes now.
AVC: Do you get a sense of accomplishment when you complete a difficult mission in a game?
JC: Yes! Oh yeah. I feel proud of myself. And celebrate, I don’t know, smoking a joint.