John Carpenter is a horror icon and has given us some of the best movies that the genre has to offer, so why can't he watch any of his old movies? Apparently, the man behind Halloween and Big Trouble in Little China can't sit back and see what we all see when we're watching one of his great movies. As it turns out, Carpenter's decision to not watch any of his old projects makes a lot of sense and seems to be the same reason that musicians don't listen to their work and actors don't like to watch themselves on screen.
In a recent interview with the Guardian, John Carpenter explained that he stays away from his old movies after being asked if he ever watches them. It's too agonizing for him as he only sees the mistakes and it brings him back to some of the stressful times that happened while making the movies. Most artists look back at their work and can only see the flaws rather than the big picture, so Carpenter's thoughts aren't entirely unique. Carpenter explains.
"Oh God, no. Don't ever make me do that, I don't want to see them again. I see the mistakes. That's all I can see. It'd be torture. Are you kidding? I don't want anything to do with them after I'm done."
John Carpenter elaborated on those comments while promoting his upcoming album, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998, with Playboy. Carpenter had this to say.
"The stress is just constant. You work like a coal miner. You don't feel like an artist. You can't wait to get done. That's why I don't wanna look at 'em anymore. They only cause anxiety. If I sit and look at one of my movies, I'll think, 'Why did I do that? Why did I move the camera that way?' I can't handle it. And then, you know, rehearsing the actors can be fraught. There are no actors, as Robert Mitchum said. There are only actresses."
Carpenter and his band have re-recorded all his old movie scores and it has brought him back to his classic movies, which might not have been such a good thing for the director/musician. John Carpenter would much rather work on music these days than movies.
John Carpenter might not like revisiting his old movies, but he is serving as an executive producer for the Blumhouse remake of Halloween and will reportedly take on the scoring duty as well. When asked about how he felt when Jason Blum cited his movies as the template to make successful horror movies, the director claimed that he has no idea why. Carpenter had this to say.
"I have no clue. My attempts at self-evaluation are doomed to fail because I'm terrible at it. All I do is go off instinct. I don't have the rules that Jason Blum has. He's much smarter than I am. I'm just a poor director trying to get by in this terrible world."
Carpenter's instinct seems to be paying off pretty well for him these days. The new Halloween remake is getting off of the ground and Carpenter's music is currently more popular than it's ever been.
John Carpenter has usually composed now-iconic music for his movies, and the impact of his work, like the instantly recognizable piano of the Halloween score, can be felt as recently as the music from Netflix's Stranger Things, which Carpenter says he has never heard. But in 2015, Carpenter released "Lost Themes," an album of chilly, atmospheric original music not written for any of his films, even though they would have fit perfectly. At this time, Carpenter is fine to just sit back and record some music and tour, rather than go through the horrors of making a movie. You can check out the rest of the interview with John Carpenter via The Guardian. Additionally, you can check out Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' take on Carpenter's Halloween theme below.