It’s been well documented how much John Carpenter loves and is influenced by classic westerns – his breakthrough feature “Assault on Precinct 13” was an updated, urbanized version of Howard Hawks‘ “Rio Bravo;” his iconic Snake Plissken character is modeled after the western heroes John Wayne embodied; and his films often share a kind of compositional identity with early westerns with an emphasis on the kind of luxurious widescreen framing that Sergio Leone and John Ford employed. But he’s never actually made an honest-to-god western himself, although 1998’s mostly forgettable “Vampires,” with James Woods playing a grizzled vampire hunter, probably comes closest. Well, if Carpenter has his way, his next film will be the straight up western he’s always dreamed of (and he even has casting ideas already).
While speaking at a Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville, Kentucky way back in July, Carpenter did a Q&A with Fangoria Magazine. Slavishly timely, the magazine has just now uploaded the footage to their site (via Bleeding Cool), and with it details of this western have emerged (somewhat).
“I got into this business to make Westerns, and I got tyepcast as a horror director after ‘Halloween,'” the ornery filmmaker explained. “My dream was to have a career in directing movies so I went wherever they wanted me to go… I’m right now working on a little gothic Western, we’ll see if we can get it set up. It’s hard to sell Westerns these days, meaning it’s hard to raise money because they’re not real commercial.” Somewhere, Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinksi are nodding in agreement.
He also clarified that it wouldn’t be a horror-western, either. “They tried it in the old days, they tried ‘Jesse James Meets Frankenstein‘ and ‘Billy the Kid Meets Dracula‘… a Western should be a Western.”
The project is obviously a long way off, but that didn’t stop Carpenter from speculation on who he’d enjoy working with. “Amy Adams…she’s an unbelievable actress, what a talent,” he said, while accidentally cluing us into the fact that he’s a secret “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” fan. “I’d love to work with her,” he concluded.
While this project seems a long way off, many are wondering what the story for this gothic western is, exactly. Well, earlier this summer, while talking up his abysmal chicks-in-a-mental-institution thriller “The Ward” with Movieline, he confirmed that the project would center around The Bloody Benders, a notorious group of early American serial killers who ran a general store in Kansas. “They were a family of German immigrants in the 1870s who murdered people along the road, travelers, and took all their money, their horses, their gold teeth, slit their throats, hit them over the head, kept them under the house, and buried them. It’s just incredible,” the director colorfully explained.
In the same interview, he outlines the role that he would have Adams play: “…this amazing female character who’s the come-on, she was out there sexually luring them in there.” Yowza!
Now, while this does sound like an interesting opportunity for an actress like Adams, we’re fairly certain this will never happen in a million years. For one, Carpenter doesn’t have the clout he once did. This isn’t the genre pioneer that made movies like “Escape from New York” and “Halloween,” this is the dude who has spent the last decade selling off the remake rights to his most beloved creations while dabbling in anthology horror television series before returning with a film so poorly received and commercially unsound that it took almost a year for it to make its way from the Toronto International Film Festival to a handful of art house theaters.
We speculate this’ll only happen if Adams is a huge Carpenter fan or is dying to make a western, neither of which we see swaying her in the direction of this project. Adams has maintained and carefully manicured her image of a wholesome, all-American girl, and even when she slightly deviates (like the hair-tugging girlfriend in “The Fighter“), she still comes across more as cute than edgy. If The Bloody Benders movie ever happens, it will likely be without Adams.