John Carpenter – the 'Master of Horror' as he's known – has got a new film out, starring the tremendously beautiful Amber Heard. We called him up and had a chat about what made him get back in the director's chair after a ten-year hiatus.
He barely stabbed us at all
Hello, John! Where are you at the moment? We're in England. The weather's awful.
It's just another sunny day in California for me, I'm afraid. It's beautiful.
Oh, cheers for that. So why's it been so long inbetween films?
Well, I burned up. I got to a place where I just didn't want to make films any more, so I moved to Canada and focused on other stuff – like Masters of Horror, for example [a TV series directed by a grab-bag of cult horror elites]. I really enjoyed myself on that.
Shedding her overalls, Heard regretted getting involved with the "chest shots only" paintball tournament
But you're back now, with The Ward. Why's that?
It was perfect project for me – it had a small budget, a limited location, and a limited cast. Basically I didn't have to work so hard at it, which makes a change! You have to get back into this business a few small steps at a time.
It was actually filmed in a mental hospital, wasn't it?
That's right, yeah – we worked in an actual loony bin. The area we were in was closed off, thankfully, but the rest of the institute was an active care home for the mentally ill. Ten minutes into filming, though, you forget about all that and just get into it.
Must have saved money, we suppose. How did that small budget affect filming?
You make choices all the way through, because you have limited equipment – not too many cameras, you know? If you're shooting three sequences in one day, you have to pick the ones that are the most important to start on and the others take a back seat for a while. Everything depends on the story you're trying to tell. It's quite old-fashioned in that way.
"Amber!" screamed Officer Bendylegs, "You have to help me! It's HAPPENING AGAIN"
Talking of old-fashioned, the film takes place in the 60s. Was that, you know, kind of an arse to do?
I was alive in the 60s, so I kind of know what I'm looking for. It's a subtle thing. Once you get the costumes right, you get the music right, it creates a lot of the atmosphere for you. And the set, of course, the set was just right.
The Ward features some curiously attractive mental patients, including (of course) the fantastic Amber Heard. What was it like working with all the girls?
I loved filming it and I loved working with the actresses – they're all enormously talented young ladies. Every day they brought their best to set, time after time. And I'll have to admit that being the main man was great... there were a lot of jokes, like I was their uncle.
Despite being a great actress, Amber often tries to point at things with two fingers and frequently needs correcting
Nice. Did they ever get upset during the many murder scenes in the film?
No! No, the kills are always the most fun to film. The girls are all laughing and giggling the whole way through. You're all in make-up and there's all this blood and guts around - it's like being a kid again.
Our childhoods were very different, apparently. Anyway, thanks for your time, John.
If you feel like being both scared and mildly aroused at the same time next week, then you can either tape soft porn to some muggers or buy THE WARD on October 17