I love Brian Wilson.
Pet Sounds and SMiLE, obviously, but All Summer Long and Love You almost as much.
Somewhere down the line comes something like Imagination, his 1998 solo album. It has its moments, some pleasant and even catchy pop songs and even one very moving song, "Lay Down Burden", that I would definitely place on any substantial career retrospective I were to make for him. But even its low points are pleasant to my ear. It's like spending time with an old friend.
For most of his career, I'd place John Carpenter in that same grouping. Sure, there's a couple of missteps, for me Christine and Village of the Damned. I find Vampires and Ghosts of Mars are lesser works, but are like Imagination, pleasant amusements.
Cigarette Burns, his first season episode of Masters of Horror. My review is here. In hindsight, the wonderful ideas and things that were handled well haunted further, though. It was almost like he had turned a corner, become hungry again. He wanted to be an artist, challenging me, no longer content provide me with comfortable fare, like Brian Wilson finally putting together SMiLE.
And then came Pro-Life, which I basically reviewed here. With this, it seems clear that the hunger in Cigarette Burns came from writers Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan, who frankly seem to lack anything like the talent or discipline that Carpenter showed in his early work.
Carpenter is lazily willing to let all lapses of logic go. He shows no interest in creating the kind of visuals that stand out in even the least of his earlier work. Frankly, if anyone tells you that Pro-Life is better than being crapped on by an elephant, they're being incredibly kind.
Perhaps sometimes it's best to let old friends go. I know plenty of people who are not only willing but eager at some point to do just that.
I'm not eager at all nor am I ready.
John Carpenter has given me hours of entertainment and frankly more inspiration than I could repay.
But I really feel less comfortable with our "friendship" than I did before.