John Carpenter's Halloween — now being rebooted with the help of the horror master himself — ushered in the so-called slasher boom of the 1980s, which saw a number of mostly-inferior copycat films being produced by companies looking to cash in on the teen-centric horror craze. In a new conversation with author and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis, Carpenter went on record to criticize the slasher films that sprung up in Halloween's wake, specifically name-checking the most successful title of that crop: Sean S. Cunningham's Friday the 13th. Adding greater context to his disdain, he went on to compare that film's artistic value not with Halloween but with Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a film he clearly has a great deal of fondness for.
“You've said that the Texas Chain Saw Massacre is like actual sex, and by comparison Friday the 13th is masturbation,” said Ellis.
“Or a handjob,” Carpenter replied.
When Ellis asked what the difference was between those two films, Carpenter spoke at greater length:
“One springs from an organic idea and has a truly artist's eye working. And Friday the 13th, I feel, affects me as very cynical. It's very cynical moviemaking. It just doesn't rise above its cheapness. I think the reason that all these slasher movies came in the '80s was a lot of folks said 'look at that Halloween movie. It was made for peanuts, and look at the money it's made! We can make money like that. That's what the teenagers want to see.' So they just started making them, cranking them out…most of them were awful.”
I couldn't agree more. (Psst…you can watch Roth and I debate Friday the 13th's artistic merits — or lack thereof — in the video below.)
You can listen to Carpenter's full conversation with Ellis here.