John Carpenter: '3D films are so exciting. Until you put those stupid glasses on'

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The Independent Culture

It was horrible losing my passion for film-making I'd been working steadily since 1970 [on films from Assault on Precinct 13 to Halloween] and eventually became exhausted by the whole process. By [2001's Ghosts of Mars] it was total burnout. So I took some time off, away from Hollywood, and got to reconnect with my family. With The Ward [out earlier this year], I found the joys of making movies again, and now I'm back to developing a couple of new projects.

There are only two types of horror stories It's all about where evil comes from. One is that it's from the outside: the other tribe, the other person, the people who live in the woods; the other type is the interior story, that evil comes from your own heart. That's a harder story to tell.

We're born afraid As soon as we come out the womb we start crying. Mother nature has programmed us with peripheral vision to be scared of things that move quickly towards us, as they might want to eat us. We're all frightened of death, the unknown and the loss of loved ones, which is why horror generally works across cultures the world over.

I learnt to fly a helicopter as I'd never put my life on the line I was of the Vietnam generation but never went to fight; I got out of it. Yet I was making movies about people in dangerous situations, so I became a pilot to experience a part of that. It was so outside of my comfort zone, but I learnt to do it pretty well, which surprised me.

3D movies are just a gimmick I was around for 3D part-one in the 1950s as a kid, and saw a lot of those films. The idea was so exciting, until you put those stupid glasses on, your eyes started going crazy and you'd think, "This is crap!" But it's called showbusiness, not showart, so if someone pays me a whole lot of money, I might do something in that format.

Hollywood hasn't run out of ideas The problem [behind the myriad remakes] is that all this cable TV, iPad use and social networking has taken attention away from movies, and it's hard to punch through all that clutter. So studios bring back titles that people recognise, because it's such a big risk these days doing something new.

John Carpenter, 63, is a film director and screenwriter. 'The Ward' is out on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow