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A Minute With: Horror king John Carpenter on "The Ward"

By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Horror meister John Carpenter returns to movie making for the first time in 10 years with "The Ward," which arrives on video-on-demand on June 8 before a theatrical release a month later.

Set in the 1960s, the film stars Amber Heard as a young woman held against her will in an all-girl psychiatric hospital. As her fellow inmates disappear one by one, she must prevent herself from suffering the same fate.

Carpenter, 63, spoke to Reuters about the film and why he took a decade-long hiatus.

Q: Where have you been for the past 10 years?

A; "Sitting on my couch, having the occasional beer, watching basketball and rekindling my passion for cinema that I had lost a decade ago."

Q: How did you lose it?

A: "I've been making movies for about 40 years and when you make movies back to back, you give up a lot of yourself -- your personal life, your health. You expend a lot of energy and I just had to stop. Of course it didn't help that my last movie tanked"

Q: What made you decide on a project like "The Ward" as a comeback?

A: "'The Ward' was attractive because it was about people, about characters. It wasn't about pyrotechnics and scene after scene of horror or suspense. It's a slow burn and buildup. I was attracted to that."

Q: Not the fact that it's about a bunch of hot girls in a mental institution wearing school girl outfits?

A: "They don't all wear school girl outfits. That's not fair (laughs). No, I didn't think that. This is a serious film."

Q: If your last film, 2001's "Ghosts of Mars" had done better at the box office, would you have continued to make films instead of taking a break?

A: "I don't have the answer for that. I've directed movies that have made a lot of money and others that haven't. It's always more fun to be loved and to be popular. It's a little harder to be the outcast and to be the loser. I'm used to it now."

Q: But you have always been an icon to audiences of the horror movie genre.

A: "I embrace being John Carpenter. I love it. I've had a career being him. It's great. I got to become famous. I've loved horror and science fiction movies ever since I was young. But internally, we're all slightly different people. I got in this business to make Westerns. They're gone. People don't want to see them. They want to see 'Thor.'"

Q: Still, you've created some iconic films like the "Halloween" franchise and "Escape from New York." Out of all your movies, do you have any favorites?

A: "I'm very proud of 'The Thing.' 'Village of the Damned' is not my favorite movie but it had an absolutely fabulous performance by Christopher Reeve, right before he had his accident. There's a little something in there that I can look at and say, 'I'm very proud of that.'"

Q: You often serve as a composer on your own films. Is music something you would have pursued if you weren't a filmmaker?

A: "If I hadn't come out to California in 1968 to learn how to direct movies, I would have probably been this loser back in my small town playing in a bar band. It was a good way to meet girls. And you get a little bit of money to go out and get drunk."

Q: You've embraced Twitter. Are you actually the one behind the keyboard, typing the status updates?

A: "I'm doing it all myself. I sit down in the afternoon and the evening, open my computer, go online and see what's happening. It's fun. (laughs) It took me a long time to embrace this technology because I grew up in a totally different time."

Q: Any other goals left to accomplish?

A: I would love to be able to play basketball with the (Los Angeles) Lakers. I'd love to be their three point shooter, but that's not gonna happen!"

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Patricia Reaney)

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