We all know that cinema is subjective and that we all have our own tastes when it comes to movie night. Well, it turns out that famed horror movie director John Carpenter is just like every other cinephile, and has some strong opinions when it comes to his top cinema picks. However, some of his hot takes regarding his popular directorial peers, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, may surprise you.
In a recorded interview on the set of his hit 1978 thriller movie Halloween (shared via the Twitter account Horror Ads), Carpenter discussed what movies and directors he gravitated towards in his free time. “Older films by [Alfred] Hitchcock, [Howard] Hawkes, [John] Ford. I like Polanski; I like action films,” he said. “I go to see most movies just to see if I can learn something.”
But older movies aside, when asked what he thought about some of his fellow contemporary directors, specifically Spielberg and Lucas, Carpenter simply said: “I don’t care for them.”
“I think George Lucas made a good film – American Graffiti, very good,” the director continued, admiring his peers despite his own tastes. “I think Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was good. And they made a lot of money.”
John Carpenter on the Halloween set talking about George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman (1978) pic.twitter.com/hUBwQOIf0o
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The filmmaker went on to clarify that although he liked Jaws, he also “didn’t care” for Spielberg’s other ‘70s feature, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Carpenter revealed that he found the 1977 alien movie “pretentious” and that the film ultimately “got out of control.”
“One of the things that I admire about a great work is that even if it is flawed, a director is in complete control of it,” the filmmaker explained. “He directs the film or directs the story with a great deal of authority, and I felt that that wasn’t there in Close Encounters.”
Carpenter is in the minority regarding his opinions on Close Encounters, which would receive an Academy Award for cinematography and gross over $300 million worldwide. Still, his words serve as a reminder of the subjective nature of art.
Carpenter is known as one of the best horror directors of all time, influencing the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro and James Wan. Although he may not get on with Spielberg or Lucas, his legacy and approach to filmmaking continue to inspire the industry as much as the iconic directors who may not be his cup of tea.