John Carpenter Discusses Low Budget Moviemaking and Horror Remakes; Plus a New Preview Clip for the The Ward
06.13.11 by Ryan
Master of Horror John Carpenter is back. Having taken an extended break after 2001's Ghosts of Mars because he felt "fed up with the movie business," the director or horror classics like 1978's Halloween and 1980's The Fog has returned with The Ward, a low-budget ghost movie that stars Amber Heard (Drive Angry) as a psychiatric patient locked in a mental institution who discovers something is stalking the halls and taking out the other patients.
Carpenter is no stranger to small budgets, and working on The Ward and its $10 million budget has seemed to re-energized Carpenter, with the director linked to several upcoming projects, such as an adaptation of the comic book Darkchylde and an adaptation of the novel Fangland.
In a conversation with MSN, Carpenter revealed making movies is the same no matter what budget you are able to get.
This is not a big film. It's not a special effects-driven, star-driven movie at all. It's a smaller film that maybe doesn't have the production value because we didn't have a big budget, but maybe takes more chances in certain areas.
Yes, when you have a bigger budget, you have a lot more stuff available: more people, more ability to utilize more cameras and technology. The biggest thing is that you have more time. Moviemaking is time. So on a big movie, you have sometimes months to shoot it. On a small film, you have weeks. So then the director sits down and says, "Well, how am I gonna tell this story that I only have 20 or 30 days to shoot? How do I do this?" So you devise a strategy and technique to tell the story efficiently and simply. That's the difference. One way of working is not better or preferable than the other; they're just different.
Of course, working in low budget horror movies is seen differently, Carpenter admits, saying that "horror directors are sometimes thought of as a little bit above pornographers," which paints a dim view of a genre Carpenter has trafficked in for so much of his career.
Part of the issues surrounding the genre as the increasing amount of sequels remakes, which Carpenter is partially responsible for, since his Halloween was been sequelized and remade and then sequelized again. While Carpenter seems content to receive checks from the productions, he didn't think any of the remakes of his work would be as good as the original.
On an artistic level? No. But this is something I've wanted all my life: to sit on my couch, and have somebody come and give me a check for doing nothing — for a movie that I was involved in creating years ago. It's a dream come true, I don't have to do anything! (laughs) It's all fine. It's somebody else's vision.
Whether The Ward becomes one of Carpenter's classics or missteps remains to be seen, though the movie is currently on video on demand before it enters a theatrical run in July. Yahoo has debuted the latest preview clip for the movie, which shows Heard attempt to escape from the mental hospital.
The Ward co-stars Jared Harris, Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies), Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass), and Mamie Gummer (Stop Loss).