Master of horror John Carpenter, director of iconic films Halloween, The thing, Escape from Los Angeles and many others, turns its distinctive gaze to the small screen.
In John Carpenter’s Suburban Cries, the six-episode anthology series explores the horrors that exist in our own backyards — the small, mundane things that we might not consider scary but actually are. What goes on behind the closed doors of the suburbs, in the cookie-cutter houses located in identical neighborhoods enclosed in mazes of labyrinthine roads?
Suburban criesin a sort of documentary approach to the real crime, aims to discover it.
As we prepare for Halloween, the series tells six spooky stories, each purportedly based on a true story. Two are based in Canada. Carpenter is the executive producer of the series and the director of one episode, The telephone stalkerabout a woman from Long Island, New York, who has been relentlessly stalked by an anonymous man since 2017.
Carpenter, 75, also created the music for the series; it’s true, it’s not only a cinematic spirit, but also a musical spirit. (Over the past decade, he has released five albums and toured the world for his music.)
Global News got on the phone with Carpenter for a brief conversation about the series and composing the horror and music.
Global News: First of all, it’s a real honor to speak to you. I grew up in the 80s and 90s and watched a ton of horror movies. So thank you for everything.
John Carpenter: Absolutely. My pleasure.
Thank you for twisting my young brain.
Oh, well, I’m sorry about that. (Laughs)
How does this particular series, Suburban criesit’s coming ?
Well, we discovered it and it was given to my wife (Sandy King) and me. It’s made up of true stories in which we focus on the survivor of a terrible ordeal – it could be supernatural, it could be real. I chose to make one about a telephone stalker.
I understand you directed this remotely?
Yes. I was excited to do it because it was a remote achievement. We had a connection that the cast and crew were filming in Prague and I was directing from my living room here in Los Angeles.
It’s a good thing.
Oh man, you know that.
I read that you do it in the same place you play video games.
That’s right! (Laughs)
Why did you choose to direct this specific episode?
I thought that as a director I could do something with it. I also found a really great actress, Julie Stewart, to play the lead role, and off we went.
You also composed the music for this show. Did you enjoy it as much as the directing element?
Yes I like that. I love it!
The second coming of John Williams?
(Laughs) Oh my God, please. No.
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What I find really interesting about the show is that sometimes the simplest things are the scariest things. The suburbs may seem so clean and simple, but there are sinister things when you go below the surface.
They are, boy, sometimes they are! And the suburbs, yes, can be a dark and scary place.
In my work, you have to make things scary, and it has to be done in a cinematic way. Everything can be scary. Nothing. As you can see, the world is a pretty scary place. Choose your location.
Reality is scarier than fiction, especially now. How does horror persist despite all these real horrors?
Well, horror is a reaction, real horror is a reaction to things. Cinematic horror is representation. It could be costume films, dramas, sci-fi, all sorts of things. It doesn’t have to be headline news, but sometimes you just want to get away from the headlines and have a catharsis for yourself, a scary experience perhaps with someone you know. we love, or an audience, and to be safe. This is what horror offers.
Modern horror has split into… I guess I’d call them subgenres. What do you think about fragmentation now?
Horror is above all a story. Don’t even pay attention to these other things. Don’t worry about techniques like jump scares or stuff like that. Horror is the story you tell – what is the story about?
And listen, the evil is ancient. Nature has it, people have it. It’s everywhere and it’s with us constantly. It depends on how we react to it, how we manage it, how we tame it.
Watch “John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams” on Showcase Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET. Subscribers can also stream on STACKTV.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)
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