John Carpenter Was A Constant Presence While Simon Pegg And Edgar Wright Wrote Shaun Of The Dead

Not all movies can make billions at the box office. In fact, at this point in history, unless your movie has some sort of existing IP attached to it, it's tough to make much money at all. But financial success is by no means the best way of assessing a movie's quality. There are those movies that don't make a lot of money, and probably aren't exactly critical darlings either, but maintain a loyal and devoted fanbase that love the movie deeply. These films are cult classics.

A director who created many cult classics is John Carpenter, of "The Thing" and "They Live" fame. He innovated the horror, sci-fi, and action genres with his works, which he composed the scores of himself. His movies were not always huge financial hits, but people latched onto them, and still adore them to this day.

"Shaun of the Dead" is nothing if not a cult classic. The film debuted in 2004 to tepid reviews and a modest box office performance. Despite this, the extremely British zombie comedy, directed by Edgar Wright as well as written by Wright and Simon Pegg, has stood the test of time, earning the sort of cult following anybody could be proud of. Wright's unique directorial style as well as the on-screen humor of Pegg and co-star Nick Frost were an unstoppable combination that would make many great films to come.

It's no wonder that Wright and Pegg took some inspiration from their cult classic predecessor in Carpenter. According to a Hollywood Reporter piece, Wright and Pegg would listen to John Carpenter's scores the whole time they were writing "Shaun of the Dead."

Musical ambience

A movie's score is vital to setting the tone. A good score can be the difference between a scene's emotional impact being effective or not. It can make happy scenes happier, sad scenes sadder, and turn a scene from seemingly normal to terrifying. According to Wright in The Hollywood Reporter interview, it can also help you get into the mindset to write a film.

"When me and Simon were writing 'Shaun of the Dead,' this was before the days of Spotify and everything being on your laptop. We made a compilation on a CD-R of John Carpenter scores and Goblin, and we just played that on a loop to be in the zone."

It makes sense that while making a horror movie you'd listen to horror scores. It makes even more sense that someone who had such a subversive take on the horror genre would listen to another of the genre's innovators.

Carpenter is a director that movie nerds love and look up to, and I think Wright did a good job living up to his spiritual legacy with "Shaun of the Dead." And with Wright's dismissive attitude towards the idea of making a "Shaun" sequel, he's also living up to Carpenter's signature aloofness. The two may not be the richest directors in the world, but they've earned unimpeachable spots in the hearts of millions.