John Carpenter talks returning to Halloween after years of ‘throwing rocks from the sidelines’

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Feb 2, 2018, 6:00 PM EST (Updated)

What’s a horror legend do for a late encore after decades of ranging far from one of his—and the whole genre’s—biggest classics? Answer the phone when the people involved in the new, back-to-basics sequel come calling.

Speaking recently with Rotten Tomatoes, original Halloween director John Carpenter admitted he never bothered trying to watch all the sequels, over the years, that his landmark 1978 film helped spawn. 

But, says the 70 year-old director, once he decided to join the production team for the 40th anniversary Halloween sequel due out this year, he adopted a do-it-yourself attitude; one that gets involved rather than throwing easy barbs from the back seat.

Realizing he could help right the ship in a franchise that, at times, has lost its way over the course of ten films—well, it came as an epiphany of sorts, Carpenter told RT:

“You know, you know I talked about the Halloweens for a long time, the sequels—I haven’t even seen all of them,” he said.  “I don’t even know what really was there—but finally it occurred to me: Well if I’m just flapping my gums here, talking about it, why don’t I try to make it as good as I can?”

As the new film’s executive producer and likely composer (more on that in a second), Carpenter says he’s working closely with director David Gordon Green and Green’s co-writer, Danny McBride, in what essentially sounds like a close advisory role.

“I could offer advice,” Carpenter said. “I could talk to the director. I like the director very much. I like the script. So, you know, stop throwing rocks from the sidelines and get in there and try to do something positive.”

The new film does a complete swerve around the lore laid down by pretty much all the original film’s successors (even the well-received ones), opting instead to revisit Laurie Strode decades into a future existence that none of the sequels ever suggested she might attain. Jamie Lee Curtis is back to play Strode 40 years after the events of the original, along with Nick Castle—the original Michael Myers. 

Carpenter scored the original Halloween, and he still appears to be attached as composer for the new movie. He told RT, though, that everything’s still up in the air until the ink that officially places him in that role has dried.

Asked if he’s officially scoring the new film, Carpenter said, “I think so. You know, I haven’t signed a contract yet, but I believe I am. I believe I am. I will let you guys know if I don’t do it, if they f— me over.”

Although the new script breaks from all that came after the original, everything about the current project is pitched to play as a direct sequel: Carpenter’s participation, casting that allows familiar faces to honor the passing of time while inhabiting original roles, and the overall approach the creative team has (so far) taken to understanding what made Carpenter’s first film such a classic.

All we have to do now is wait until —when else ?—Halloween. The eponymously titled 40th anniversary sequel is slated to appear in U.S. theaters Oct. 19, 2018.

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