John Carpenter, Director Of Eerily Prophetic Thrillers, Reflects On The Dystopia Of 2021

The man behind classics like "Escape From New York" and "Assault on Precinct 13" said that the Capitol Hill riots were reminiscent of scenes from his films.

Filmmaker and composer John Carpenter, known for thriller and science fiction movies like “Halloween” and “The Thing,” discussed America’s recent political and racial discord in an interview published on Thursday, musing that current events had become oddly reminiscent of scenes from his films.

Speaking with The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern, who said that the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots seemed like something right out of a John Carpenter movie, the filmmaker agreed.

“It was,” Carpenter said. “The first thing I was thinking was, ‘Where’s the police? Why are they allowed to do this? Why are these people running up there like this? What the hell is going on?’ And then it got worse, and worse, and they started breaking the windows to get inside. It was like, are you kidding? Are you kidding? ... And they had these Trump banners and MAGA hats? Holy shit, man!”

Carpenter has frequently drawn upon current day politics for inspiration in his films. For instance, 1981’s “Escape From New York” imagined Manhattan as a giant prison, with Kurt Russell portraying a federal inmate who is given the chance to rescue the president in order to receive a pardon.

The film came about via a 1976 screenplay that Carpenter originally wrote in response to the Richard Nixon Watergate scandal. In 1994, the director said that the time period had inspired him since “the whole feeling in the nation was one of real cynicism about the president.”

“Assault on Precinct 13,” Carpenter’s 1976 thriller about a Black police officer who defends a Los Angeles police station from gang members alongside a white convict, explored themes of racial equality. The 73-year-old filmmaker told The Daily Beast that these issues were still relevant today. 

“I couldn’t believe — and I still can’t believe — that the country was that way,” Carpenter said. “I can now. I see it now. But it wasn’t in my family. What was I trying to achieve? Equality ... I thought the movie was a step forward into the modern age. And I guess I was wrong! White supremacists are running around still. I can’t believe it!”

Carpenter also seemed to predict the dangerous effects of media misinformation on the masses with his 1988 film “They Live,” which features aliens who manipulate an unsuspecting populace with subliminal messages.

The director said that social media companies of today “keep having those meetings at the Capitol where they all sit around and talk, and nothing ever happens.”

“Nothing changes,” Carpenter said. “I don’t know what that means. I don’t get it. But I watch a lot of news, and most of the news is OK — except for Fox. They’re horrible. They’re worse than they ever have been. It’s unbelievable!”

Read the full interview here.