[Interview] Sandy King on John Carpenter’s ‘Suburban Screams’, Halloween, and More

Producer and writer Sandy King has never been afraid to dive into new mediums, from films like In the Mouth of Madness and Vampires to her Storm King Comics publishing imprint to podcasts and more, and now she is bringing her latest collaboration with her husband, John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams, to yet another medium, streaming on Peacock beginning this Friday the 13th. We talked to Sandy recently about the new series, whether she had to twist Carpenter’s arm to get him to direct an episode, what Halloween is like in the Carpenter family home, and more in a video conversation last week.

On the new series, Suburban Screams King tells HDN, “When this presented itself, John and I thought about it, and went, well that sounds interesting. We’ve never done something like that. We’ve bee presented with reality shows, but they were all kind of hokey. This seemed interesting, to do a hybrid scripted and unscripted, and it was something that we felt we could be value added to.

“Then we felt we could move it around a bit. Our spin on it was to focus on survivors and victims. There’s a lot done about the murders, the rapists, all that sort of stuff, and solving crimes, but very few people talk about the survivors and what they live with after supposedly the case is closed, and there’s closure and all that. For those people, there’s never an end. You’re forever affected by what you’ve experience. 

“Whether it’s a town that’s been victimized, like in Pennsylvania with the latest serial killer that escaped for two weeks and held the hostage basically. Those people are never going to look at their safe town again. Or someone who’s being stalked and is still being stalked, that never ends for her.

“So what happens to people and how are they affected was far more interesting to us than the event itself, and I feel like that’s what we were able to bring to this. And by adding the scripting portion, we were able to make it a more immersive experience for the viewer and have them in that world with the person who experienced it, as opposed to making up other stuff.” 

Carpenter himself even returned to the director’s chair for the sixth episode of the series, called “Phone Stalker”, and Sandy tells us that he was excited when he learned he could direct remotely from home while in between recording sessions for new albums. “He was in the middle of recording a couple of new albums,” she said, “so he couldn’t travel to where we were shooting in the Czech Republic. The time didn’t work out.

“So he directed remotely, and when he found out that he could do that, and we had a great setup going where we were really pretty flawlessly able for him to talk to the crew and talk to the actors and do that, and then watch the multiple camera setups on a giant screen, he was more excited that he we able to juggle it out with his schedule. Then I was in the Czech Republic being his eyes and ears on ground and scouting the locations and stuff.

“He actually really liked the premise of the ‘Phone Stalker’ and the chance to do really more of a slow burn suspense episode that leaves you still with her in limbo, I think that’s what really appealed to him about it. As soon as he read that script, he wanted to do it.”

We also talked about the decision for Carpenter to also compose the music for his episode, as well as the series main theme, with his bandmates Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies, and of course we had to discuss what a typical Halloween Night is like at the Carpenter family’s home, as Sandy also shares fond memories of family Halloweens from years ago, including the time special makeup FX legend Greg Nicotero made a young Cody Carpenter an Alien Xenomoprh head for his costume that year, and more.

Suburban Screams premieres on Peacock this Friday (the 13th).

You can watch our full exclusive interview with Sandy King below.

For more Halloween news, follow @HalloweenDaily.

Matt Artz

Founded Halloween Daily News in 2012 and the Halloween International Film Festival in 2016. Professional writer/journalist/photographer since 2000.