God, I wish this conversation between John Landis, David Cronenberg and John Carpenter about the history, nature and culture of horror movies, could go forever. And all this back in 1982, a golden age for horror and a time when all three men were at the height of their considerable powers.
Carpenter was the dark master of the brilliant B-movie (“Halloween,” “The Fog,” “The Thing”—the latter being a work in progress during this talk), Cronenberg, the brain behind intelligent but disturbingly physical horror (“Scanners,” “Rabid,” “The Brood,” the then-forthcoming “Videodrome”), and Landis the genius of comic horror (“American Werewolf in London” and many other clever genre spoofs).
The three directors and host Mick Garris touch on the reason for the popularity of horror films (“they’re entertaining”—Landis), the difficult necessity of working with elaborate and gruesome special effects, something all three of the directors know a lot about (think “The Fly,” the transformation in ‘American Werewolf,’ the morphing scenes in “The Thing”), and the creeping danger of censorship. Cronenberg, interestingly, says that he doesn’t think kids should see his movies, and it’s hard not to agree, but how many children have been inspired by nightmarish childhood experiences with horror films? Carpenter himself notes during the talk that the movie that scared him the most was 1953’s “It Came From Outer Space,” which he saw as a petrified four-year old. Clearly the experience stayed with him, and happily so, because it inspired him to disturb whole new generations of children. Maybe this talk will inspire someone out there to do the same. [No Film School]