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John Carpenter On Watching His Old Films: “It’d Be Torture”

It’s never easy for filmmakers to watch their own work, especially once completed. A lot can go wrong during production and time is money, as they say, leaving many with glaring regrets that only they can see. This is one of the reasons Halloween, The Thing, and Escape From New York director John Carpenter avoids watching his own films at all costs.

When The Guardian asked the genre titan if it’s true that he never revisits his old films, he exclaimed:

“Oh God, no. Don’t ever make me do that.

“I don’t want to see them again,” he added, further explaining. “I see the mistakes. That’s all I can see. It’d be torture. Are you kidding? I don’t want anything to do with them after I’m done.”

Many filmmakers feel the same and it’s hard to blame them for the reasons given above. Us movie fans may see perfection, but to the director, they see any number of issues from the score to editing or even shots they didn’t get during filming. Every movie is its own miracle…

[Related] John Carpenter On People Remaking His Films: “Pay Me”



  • Khy

    Funny enough- most would say that’s the experience they get from his newer films.

  • J Jett

    when i watched THE FOG remake it was both torture and depressing. LOL. how they could fuck up that movie still confounds me to this day.
    having said that, i actually enjoyed (for the most part) Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN remake and i loved his H2. it makes sense that ANY director would dislike having to watch a remake of a film he/she made. the only time i can see it being the opposite is if an overtly terrible film was remade with a director like Fincher (or others of his ilk).

    • spidergod91

      I actually thought the Fog remake was decent aside from the ending & making the priest unlikable.
      I was genuinely surprised at how decent a actress Maggie Grace was acting-wise in it.

      • Saturn

        Yeah, the worst thing about The Fog remake was definitely that shitty ending.
        Even without it it was a vastly inferior movie to the original, but until that point was kinda serviceable.

        • J Jett

          i definitely respect yours and spidergod91’s opinions on the film but the whole “love” story (the old man ghost returning to claim his love Maggie Grace) was atrocious!! lol. what’s extra perplexing to me is that i love Maggie Grace & Selma Blair and yet even they couldn’t save the film from being horrible. i actually own that remake on DVD and have tried re-watching it to give it chance after chance that maybe i’d like it but alas, nope. 🙂

          • Saturn

            Oh,don’t get me wrong – the movie in comparison to the original is a steaming pile of shit, but compared to quite a lot of the straight to shiny disc crap we’ve been getting since the turn of the millenium (especially these last 3000 low budget zombie movies) it was at least watchable.

  • Biscoito18

    I know the feeling, Carpenter. I also hate watching my old movies made with The Sims 2.

  • Selina x

    I think most directors probably feel this way sometimes. If I was gonna disagree with John with anything its the torture aspect of his quote. We can never see what faults He sees through his eyes! But what I see is pure cinematic joy and I can say with high probability that many others do too…including his peers. I can understand what He means, and I still feel the snark and playful tone in it too. I believe He enjoys the admiration. I saw him at the Troxy in London last Halloween..Sublime! The beautifully edited footage across his films to the scores were some of the best moments of my life and I feel He cant all be about the hate…its just my belief. No film is perfect anyhow! Most of time we use the word ‘perfect’ as a pleasantry…an opinion or expression of our love for film. No his films are not perfect all the time. We love them and they are perfect to us. Torture…no, lol. Bless his Synth heart 😉
    On the flipside…I love cynicism. It’s so becoming! X

  • Saturn

    I have a large collection of home-made sex tapes.
    Now that is torture to watch.
    Literally – I dismembered all my exes…….


    Of course I jest!


    • Selina x

      Torture porn! Hey if this tale turns true I would be interested in a VHS copy if you please 😉 x

      • Saturn

        I’ll upload them to The Pirate Bay later tonight!
        They will be uploaded under the title “Hamusutā” and will consist of around 6-8 soon to be legendary works of art, that Charlie Sheen will LOVE!

        • Selina x

          Hope you fed that little critter!

          • Saturn

            Yup – through a blender……

            Of course I jest.

            Go vegan.

            Or at least eat only of the flesh of your enemies…….

          • Selina x

            I am vegan haha 🙂

          • Saturn

            Good on you – at least I know now I’m not the only one!

    • zombie84_41

      I norm just watch porn and carpenter films I try to fine the worst fuckin porn possible.

      • Saturn

        There should be more Carpenter/Porn cross-over movies.

        The Frig.
        The Whored.
        Ass-Ault On Precinct 13.
        Whoreloween 3 : Season Of The Bitch.
        Big Black In Little China.
        In The Mouth, And Butt, Of Madness.

        Um, that’s all I’ve got.

        • Nia Snacks

          Actually I thought of this version of Precinct 13 a while back. It’s called Assault that Ass on Precinct 13.

        • Creepshow

          Ok, the last one is a riot. Thanks for the laugh!

        • zombie84_41

          LMFAO good shit.

  • Blade

    We are our own toughest critics at times. Im no artist but I could definitely see why he feels this way lol

  • zombie84_41

    Yeah I wonder if he would sit through DARK STAR that movie was a fuckin terrible movie. Words can’t describe how i feel about that movie.

  • gjk2012 .

    After take after take of scenes and years of spending time on them I don’t blame him. I would think especially as a video game creator and tester I wouldn’t like to play my own games afterwards either. It wouldn’t matter if it would be a masterpiece. It would be like reliving and working all over again on the same thing. It would be like watching paint dry.

  • Nia Snacks

    I’d say Ghosts of Mars and Vampires was torture.

    • mballard_87

      Why didn’t you like Vampires?

      • Nia Snacks

        Terrible story, brutal cast. I like James Woods but that was not a role for him and the worst Baldwin brother??

        • Bryano

          Can’t say I enjoyed that one either. The scene where he’s ribbing the priest about whether he has a hard-on or whatever was just just painfully bad.

        • Mark Davis

          Vampires was wonderful because of all of that. James Woods as an action hero was ridiculous but it worked for that film. Badass name too. Jack Crow. Also, the head vampire was the bad guy from Karate Kid Part 3.

          • Nia Snacks

            lol if you like it, that’s fine. Not going to argue. I just hate that movie so much. I noticed you didn’t rush to the defense of Daniel Baldwin..

          • Mark Davis

            Yeah….I got nothin for him. Lol

          • mballard_87

            He did a good job at smacking hookers around and smoking a ton of cigarettes.

  • Necro

    No surprise to hear this, we are our own worst critics. All the time and energy spent doing it, and then to go back and watch. Every 10 seconds it would be spotting something wrong. So yeah he’s right on this one.

  • sedoi

    His last good movie was Cigarette Burns

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