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Carpenter Into Commentaries, Even for ‘Ugly' Films

5 Sep, 2001 By: Fred Topel

John Carpenter, whose latest film, Screen Gems' Ghosts of Mars opened Aug. 24, has embraced the DVD format. Most of Carpenter's films are available on DVD, many with lavish special editions, including Halloween, Big Trouble in Little China and The Thing.

As a viewer, Carpenter says his favorite part about DVD is the clarity of picture, but as a filmmaker, he is notinvolved in the special edition production beyond recording his supplemental audio tracks.

“I don't have much to do with all that,” Carpenter says about the documentaries and deleted scenes that appear on many of his discs. “That's all done by somebody else. I just come in and do the commentary.”

Carpenter is planning to record a commentary for Columbia TriStar HomeEntertainment's Ghosts of Mars with the film's star, Natasha Henstridge.“Natasha and I are going to insult each other for an hour and a half,” he jokes. However, there are no deleted scenes available for a DVDproducer to include.

“The problem [is] we used almost everything,” Carpenter says. “We compressed the film. The film is tighter. We could show a longer version but it's not as tight.”

Thinking about his older movies, Carpenter hopes he will be able to elaborate on his 1988 Universal Studios film They Live, starring the World Wrestling Federation's Roddy Piper, which currently exists as amovie-only disc.

Regardless of what other extra features a DVD couldinclude, Carpenter just wants to record a commentary track.“Roddy Piper and I want to sit down and talk about it,” Carpenter says. “That would be a hoot. The fun of that would be to hear he and I talk. What a laugh riot that would be.”

One Carpenter film that is not available on DVD, even in a movie-only version, is Warner Bros.' Memoirs of an Invisible Man, but Carpenter would have no control in producing that DVD.

“That's all owned by the studio,” Carpenter says. “They couldn't reallycome to me and ask me to do it. They have it. There's not a big demand for Chevy Chase movies, I guess. That's probably the one that I like the least. It was a terrible experience making it. I wanted to get out of the business after that. I had an awful time. It was tough to keep my spirits up on that. It was ugly.”

Despite battles with studio intervention, Carpenter would still record a commentary if Warner Bros. decided to make a Memoirs special edition.

“I would consider anything like that if it's one of my films,” Carpenter says. “I don't know what shape Chevy's in these days or his mood, but I would do it with him.”

Deleted scenes would also be available should a Memoirs special editionever happen.

“I know one that exists that they made me take off,” Carpenter says. “There was a dream sequence where the Chevy Chase character, Nick, goes to sleep and he's dreaming. I had him waking up in an operating roomsurrounded by these scantily clad, beautiful women. The Sam Neill character is there and then he wakes up from the nightmare.”

Specific films aside, Carpenter believes DVD as a format is the future,and in fact has already shown its power in the present.

“They've conquered the world now,” Carpenter says. “It's so strange. Laser's dead. In terms of buying things, they eventually will take over fromvideotape.”

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