Robert Rodriguez's El Rey Network is giving viewers a chance to go behind the lens with a new series titled 'El Rey Network Presents: The Director's Chair', in which Rodriguez will come together with a major director for an intimate dialogue about their craft, their inspirations and explore the early and memorable films that helped propel them to superstar status. The first installment focuses on one of Rodriguez's faves, John Carpenter, a man whose credits I probably don't have to list here.
The first episode of The Director's Chair is airing Saturday, May 10th at 8:00pm ET on El Rey, and to kick-off the event, El Rey Network will feature a 'Carpen-TERROR' Movie Marathon starting at 1:00pm ET on May 10th. Showing will be ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, HALLOWEEN, THE FOG and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. Not a bad line-up!
To help promote this new show, El Rey invited a few select outlets to talk to Carpenter on a conference call. Now, if you know anything about Carpenter, you know he's not one to talk at length about his own movies, but we were still able to get a few choice quotes from the director about his thoughts on HALLOWEEN remakes and sequels, his thoughts on the current state of horror, working with Kurt Russell, his future plans and an album he's releasing with his son!
Here are the highlights of the conversation:
- His thoughts on the new HALLOWEEN movie announced and whether or not he has any curiosity regarding the updated franchise in general:
Well, look, not really. I thought in terms of a story, Halloween didn't have much going for it. I thought there wasn't more to say about it. You start getting into backgrounds of Michael Myers, and that's not what it should be. I just thought it shouldn't be done, but in California we have this law that you can't stop people from making a profit. So I thought, okay I'll do it anyway and maybe I can make some money. So I produced and wrote the sequel and I stayed involved a while, and then I had to give it up. I don't know. I'm not curious about it, I've watched a couple of them, some of them are better than others. I have nothing else to say about it."
- Don't ask Carpenter if he watches his own movies:
I don't watch my own movies, I can't stand it, are you kidding? Why should I do that? That's pain, man. I don't want to watch any of them, that's all behind me now, I'm living in the present, I don't want to visit the past."
- Whether he's open to doing any TV work with the El Rey Network in the future:
I'd be open to anything, I'm game."
- Does he think about trying to get an "independent-minded" film off the ground, and has he ever tried to work with Jason Blum's Blumhouse?
Independent-minded, you mean cheap? They're really cheap. Two writers that I know and I, we pitched an idea to Blumhouse and they turned us down! So I guess I won't be working for them."
- On the studio wanting a different ending for THE THING:
They wanted a happy ending. Sid Sheinberg was one of the big suits, and he said, "Think about how the audience will react if we see the thing die with a giant orchestra playing." I said, "It's the end of the world, there's no way out." I said to them, "Look, if you want to feel better, preview the movie and cut the last scene out and end the film where the thing blows up, don't have the last scene with the two men." And it didn't test any different. So I said, "No, we're going to keep the ending." My mistake, huh?"
- He doesn't enjoy both writing and directing:
Writing and directing… it's too hard. I don't want to work that hard. I want to just direct. Let other people write it. When I get a script, I can make it into my own, but writing is actual work. You guys actually write for a living, I don't understand how you do it."
- He still watches horror movies, and he loves WORLD WAR Z:
I do watch horror films, occasionally. I've always loved movies that push the boundaries of something. There was a movie from a few years ago, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, I thought that was really good because it was a new voice of the vampire tale. Frankly, last year I loved WORLD WAR Z, I thought that was kick-ass, I loved it. And I'm really looking forward to GODZILLA. A lot of them are pretty rough, I've seen a lot of it before. I like people who try new things.
- Which video game would he like to adapt into a feature?
Dead Space. I think I could do something good, I think I could make a scary movie out of it.
- What made his collaboration with Kurt Russell so special, and might they re-team in the future?
What was it about Kurt? I worked with Kurt on "Elvis," and he was hired before I was hired to direct it. There were two things about Kurt as an actor: His talent for just playing the scene, I had never worked with anybody like that before. And secondly, he was Disney-prepared. If you didn't say your lines in a Disney movie exactly like it was in the script, they cut the camera, was he was a consummate professional. I was really impressed with that. We are very different in our political outlook, Kurt is extremely right and I am left, but we don't really get into that, we became friends based on craft, based on what we do. We had a lot of adventures over the years, I loved working with him. I don't know what's going to come up in the future in terms of casting. To develop a movie at this point, it's all about the story, trying to attract people from the story point of view.
- On his most fun film shoot and his most difficult shoot:
The most fun I had was on HALLOWEEN. We were young kids, we didn't have anything to lose, we were all in it together, just trying to make a movie. That was a blast. We had limited time, the script was limited to certain locations. We had one scene we reshot with Jamie Lee in the bedroom, I can't remember why we reshot it now, but it wasn't a perfect shoot. They were really grueling hours, but that was the most fun. The toughest, physically, was THE THING, up there in British Columbia, up in the glaciers. Oy! I'll never do that again. I don't want to go into it, it was horrible.
- He's got an album coming out with his son Cody soon!
A record label is going to be releasing an album of mine, later this year or early next year, called "Lost Themes". This is something I did with my son, Cody. So stay tuned!