Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

If you’re a nice guy, John Carpenter won’t sue you—even if you rip him off

Metal Gear Solid's Solid Snake
Metal Gear Solid's Solid Snake

Seth Abramovitch’s recent interview in The Hollywood Reporter doesn’t shed much new light on “horror master” John Carpenter’s career (Did you know that The Shape’s mask in Halloween is actually a William Shatner mask? That young Michael Myers’ hand in the opening tracking shot of Halloween is actually that of writer/producer Debra Hill?) In fact, Carpenter seems like he’d much rather talk about his Lost Themes record, video games, or the L.A. Lakers than regurgitate Halloween facts, but there are some bright spots, like this quote on his recent lawsuit against Luc Besson, director of Escape From Spac…err, Lockout:

CanalPlus is the company that, with me, owns Escape From New York. They came to me and said, ’Luc Besson ripped you off on Lockout.’ Or Lockdown, whatever the hell that was. And they sent me the movie, and yes, he did. It’s the same story. (Laughs) I mean, you can’t do that, can you? You have to change a couple things. He’s after the president’s daughter? Come on. So I took him to French court.

The great thing is, I didn’t have to do anything, really. That’s the kind of the job I’ve always wanted—where you don’t have to show up, and something happens. And we won! But any great dreams of retiring wealthy were shattered because they didn’t give us as much money as CanalPlus wanted.


Ever the capitalist, Carpenter has long implied that he doesn’t mind Halloween’s sequels, remakes, and sequels to remakes as long as he’s cashing a check and not doing much else. But while Carpenter didn’t mind cashing the check from the Luc Besson lawsuit, he doesn’t plan on suing the makers of the video game Metal Gear Solid, even though Metal Gear’s main character, Solid Snake, is a badass anti-hero type who dons some scruff, an eye patch, and a bad attitude. In other words, he has quite a bit in common with the character that Carpenter created along with screenwriting partner/bandmate Nick Castle (although on the NES box art, Solid Snake more so resembles Kyle Reese):

[CanalPlus] wanted to also go after the video game Metal Gear Solid, which is kind of a rip-off of Escape From New York, too, but I told them not to do that. I know the director of those games, and he’s a nice guy, or at least he’s nice to me.

Carpenter even gave the director of the Metal Gear games, Hideo Kojima, his permission to use the name ”Snake” in 2010. Kojima also had nothing but nice things to say about Carpenter and Escape From New York when he spoke to Official Playstation 2 Magazine in 2002:

I was especially electrified by the hero, Snake Plissken. Being in the midst of my rebellious period, the antihero “Snake” resonated harmoniously! He was a dark hero that separated himself from the orthodox hero who was either part of some organization, enslaved by the system, or was justice personified. Snake’s words, actions and every move looked so cool. The line “Call me Snake!” became a fad in school. If I used a different name (animal) for Snake in MGS, he probably would have been a totally different character.

John Carpenter was our hero in the ’80s. He established the new genre of “Sci-fi horror.” He did not “sell out” to blockbuster films. He pursued his own style of entertainment. He was never sucked into the current of the times. He ran the dark side.

Carpenter hasn’t heard from Besson, and, according to the director, “they didn’t give us much money.” But it can be assumed that Besson was not nice to Carpenter. And as we all know, you should just be nice…until it’s time to not be nice.