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Why John Carpenter Prefers Making Music to Making Movies

The legendary horror filmmaker would rather be at home writing music. 

By Matthew Jackson

John Carpenter is a legend in the world of genre cinema. The director and writer behind classics like HalloweenEscape From New YorkThe Thing, and so much more, he's one of those filmmakers who's become synonymous with great horror films, but his legacy is about more than the director's chair. 

One of the hallmarks of a Carpenter film is, of course, that it's often scored by the horror master himself, who steps behind his keyboard to deliver compositions that capture the atmosphere of the movie. Many of his themes are legendary, and he's become so renowned for his scores that he's even been asked to score films for other directors, including last year's Firestarter and Halloween Ends. During a recent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Carpenter discussed his love of writing music for films, and explained what he feels the job really needs.

RELATED: Your Guide to John Carpenter's Suburban Screams on Peacock

"I'm a carpet composer," Carpenter said. "What I mean by that is I talk to the director and see, what does he need? I carpet his house, his movie, emotionally, plot-wise, characters, moods. He needs something, I lay down this carpet, right underneath there. There it is."

Over the years, Carpenter has laid down that carpet for many films, including his own, and has become so renowned as a musician that he's even toured with his scores and a series of original compositions he refers to as "Lost Themes" for movies that were never made. It's a job he loves so much, in fact, that he went on to tell Colbert that he prefers sitting in a room writing scores over directing movies. 

John Carpenter sits on a sofa and points his fingers in John Carpenter's Suburban Screams 106

"Directing, you have a 150 people on your back every day, and it costs all this money, and there's pressure coming from above like 'Get this done,'" he said. "And then when you finish it, at the end of the day, you're the guy with the film cans at the end of the hallway, and they come to kick your ass."

Still, Carpenter did recently get back in the director's chair for the first time in more than a decade, directing an episode of his new Peacock original series John Carpenter's Suburban Screams. Of course, as Colbert pointed out, he got to do the job this time from the comfort of his living room, directing the episode remotely while his cast and crew worked on location in Prague. 

"That's the only way to direct," Carpenter said. 

"You don't feel like you're missing anything?" Colbert responded.

Carpenter's answer was short and to the point: "Hell no!"

So there you have it. If we can just get Carpenter more projects where he can direct from his house, with a keyboard by his side for scoring, he might be inclined to make even more cool stuff.

John Carpenter's Suburban Screams is now streaming on Peacock.