CARPY & THE CAP'N:
A NEW WORK OF JOHN CARPENTER FAN-FICTION
BY SEAN GILL
BY SEAN GILL
Author's Note- if you require background information on the Coupe de Villes phenomenon, educate yourself HERE.
In perhaps an alternate universe, not so unlike our own...
LOS ANGELES PRELUDE.
LOS ANGELES PRELUDE.
11:36 P.M. February 21, 1992. Hollywood, California.
11:36 P.M. February 21, 1992. Hollywood, California.
"It was good, John, I liked it." Tommy Lee Wallace pursed his lips as if he was going to say something more, but no words emerged.
"It's just that it was..." Nick Castle trailed off.
"'It's just that it was' what?" snapped John Carpenter, stopping in his tracks. He immediately regretted the timbre of his remark, but it was merely a gut reaction.
"Well, it was no THEY LIVE," said Nick.
"It just didn't have that Carpenter oomph," added Tommy.
"So now you didn't like it either, Tommy?"
"...The special effects were great. How'd you do that invisibility business?"
"Well, now I'm not going to tell you."
"No, I liked it, John. But that's the problem. I usually walk out of one of your films with my mind popping and reeling and aflame- filled with, I guess... pleasantly nightmarish fireworks or something. But anybody could've directed this. A talented anybody, but an anybody nonetheless."
"I think you need Kurt back," proclaimed Nick.
"Yeah, definitely give Kurt a call. It's been too long." added Tommy.
"Alright, alright." John submitted. "But when do you guys wanna get together for Coupe de Villes rehearsal?"
"How 'bout right now!" blurted out Tommy.
"I got my keyboards in the car," said Nick.
"And you know I always keep the bass in my trunk," John proclaimed.
Silently, Tommy slid his guitar out from underneath his roomy velvet jacket. John nodded slowly in approval. The three men formed a circle, placed their hands atop one another in the center, and let out a whoop– "COOOOOOOOP DE VILLES!!!"
Their jubilant cheer resonated into the oncoming desert wind.
2:49 P.M. May 17, 1992. John Carpenter's home. Hollywood Hills, California.
John Carpenter's hand hesitated just above the dial on his plastic yellow telephone. It had been a long time.
Sure, he'd seen Kurt and Goldie last year, socially, but they hadn't worked together in six. And Kurt'd had all sorts of successes. Successes like BACKDRAFT. TANGO & CASH. OVERBOARD. Artistically, John pondered that he would defend THEY LIVE to the death. But it only grossed 13 mil in a world where BACKDRAFT was pulling in 77. God-damn the studio system in its present state, Carpenter thought. Hawks would have never stood for this. He quickly dialed the final digit and the rotor spun back with a click.
"Hi, Kurt. It's John."
"HA-HAAA! JOHNNY-BOY! SHIT THE BED, IT'S FINE TO HEAR YOUR VOICE!"
"It's good to hear yours, too, Kurt."
"You get a haircut yet, you sonofabitch? You're startin' to look like Rip van Winkle last time I saw you!"
"Aw, shit, Johnny, I'm just fuckin' with ya. How have ya been?"
"Oh, you know... Coupe de Villes practice. MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN."
"That was you, Johnny?"
"I SAW it and had no idea. Saw you in the helicopter at the end, but I figured Nick or Tommy directed it and you were just doin' a cameo."
"Come on, now. It's not a bad movie."
"Yeah, but it's not a 'CARPY' movie."
"Sure it is. It's just a little more like STARMAN than THE THING."
"Yeah, yeah. Not so hot on STARMAN either. So whaddya got for me, Johnny?"
"Well, nothing...as of yet. I'm sort of between projects, so to speak. What are you doing?"
"I just got back from the Caribbean. Puerto Rico. Hot little flick called CAPTAIN RON. Comes out this September."
"I read about it in Variety. 'He just wanted a nice, quiet family vacation. Instead, he got.. CAPTAIN RON,' something or other along those lines. You're Captain Ron, I imagine."
"You bet your raggedy ass I am!"
"I'm sure it's one of your finest performances."
"HA-HAAAAAA! Aw, Johnny-boy, you crack me up. Drank so much Malibu down there I STILL can't see straight. HAAAAA! Doesn't matter though, this flick is gonna be HUGE."
"Such a snob, this guy. HAWWWWWW-HAW HAW!... So. Anyway. I have this great idea, Johnny."
"What's that, Kurt?"
"Well, of all things, last night, Goldie and I were watchin' THE FOG. It was on cable. A damn fine flick, considering it didn't star yours truly."
"I can do alright without you on occasion, Kurt." John smiled.
"HAA-HAAAA!! You do alright at that, eh, Johnnyboy? Anyway, I was watchin' THE FOG. Goldie says, 'Hey sweetie- it's like CAPTAIN RON...with ghosts!"'
"Uh-huh." John was concerned.
"So then I says, GOD-DAMN WE'LL DO IT UP! I can see it up in lights: CAPTAIN RON 2: CAPTAIN RON VERSUS THE FOG. And we'll get Johnny to direct!"
"Uh-huh..." John was stunned but not altogether unreceptive. Kurt had caught him in a generous mood. He quickly collected himself: "So what's it about?"
"Alright, peel your ears around this one– 'All they wanted was to terrify Antonio Bay one last time. Instead, they got....CAPTAIN RON.'"
A moment passed.
"Against all better judgments, Kurt, I kinda like where you're going with this. You'd be writing it?"
"We'd collaborate. HAAAAA-HAWW! Just the two of us, Johnnyboy!"
"Alright, I'll come over tomorrow."
"Terrific, buddy! And bring Sandy!"
"Well, let's not involve wives in the first step of the creative process... I mean girlfriends. Wives and girlfriends."
"Way to rub it in Johnnyboy! HOOOO-HOO HOOOO! Hey, Goldie! You hear that?! Even Carpy thinks we're married! HAR-HAR-HAR!... Eh...I guess she's busy or something."
"Alright, I'll see you at 8 A.M."
"Whoa-whoa hold the fuckin' phone, Johnny- I'm still on CAPTAIN RON time! How 'bout noon?"
"Alright, I'll see you at noon."
11:36 A.M. June 7, 1992. The office of Debra Hill, producer.
Debra Hill leafed through the stack of papers that sat on her her desk- they happened to be the completed first draft of CAPTAIN RON 2: CAPTAIN RON VERSUS THE FOG. "I'm sorry, John, but I really don't see how I can sign off on this."
John Carpenter and Kurt Russell, wearing matching Hawaiian shirts and baby blue lei, sat uncomfortably on the other side of the room.
"AWWW COME ON!" exclaimed Kurt, slapping his hands against the armrests of his chair.
"Let her finish," retorted John, reasonably. He shifted in his seat, and the chair creaked loudly. "Debra co-wrote THE FOG. It's her piece, too."
Debra shook her head. "So the finale involves this Captain Ron character riding a wave on a special buzzsaw-equipped boogie board, slicing Blake in the head, and declaring 'Surf's up?' "
"It reads a little dry on the page," John admitted.
"I could do a reading for you right now," offered Kurt.
"No, no... that'll be alright. I mean, Blake is kind of built up in the first film, to have him defeated in such an ignominious fashion just doesn't quite ring true to the original. It sorta makes me sick."
"But, uh... other than that, what do you think...?" fished John, hopefully.
"Oh, other than that..." Debra paused, to collect her thoughts. "...I absolutely love it!"
John and Kurt exhaled simultaneously– relieved, and more than a little surprised.
"But yeah, we gotta lose the surfing bit," Debra continued.
"I refuse to artistically compromise on the matter," announced Kurt.
"Then I refuse to sign off on CAPTAIN RON VERSUS THE FOG."
"Well, eh, Kurt, what if we did a surfing bit in an... eventual project?" gingerly asked John, hoping to diffuse the situation as painlessly as possible.
"I don't see how it'll ever come up again," said Kurt, deflated.
"I promise you, Kurt, we will film a surfing bit. Just on a later project."
"Well, I hate to break up the love-fest," interjected Debra, "but when do we start?"
"As soon as possible," pledged John. "...As soon as possible."
10:58 P.M. June 13, 1992. The basement of Nick Castle.
"I know she works at night/ She doesn't drive/ I know she'll see the light/ Keep our love alive/ keep our love alive/ keep our love alive..." The Coupe de Villes harmonized together, and quietly faded it out. The song was over- the song, of course, being "She Has Friends in L.A.," by the Coupe de Villes.
"I think that's a good place to end things for tonight. As you both know, it's gonna be a while before our next rehearsal," John solemnly recited. He had dreaded making this speech the entire night.
Nick Castle popped the top on an ice-cold Schlitz. "So this is really happening, huh."
"Yeah," John said. "We leave on the 15th."
"But there's no room on that schooner for the rest of us Coupe de Villes, though, huh?" Tommy Lee Wallace asked, with the vaguest hint of annoyance.
"Well, that's what I wanted to talk to you all about," John countered.
"What, so I can direct CAPTAIN RON VERSUS THE FOG III: SEASON OF THE BAD PRESS?," blurted out Tommy.
John Carpenter was taken off guard. He stood, startled, with eyebrows raised.
"I didn't mean that," apologized Tommy. "I don't know why I said that."
"I still think HALLOWEEN III is a solid flick," Nick offered up as encouragement.
"I'm sorry if you two think I'm leaving you behind, but I wanted to talk about the Coupe de Villes maybe working on CAPTAIN RON 2. And not just a closing credits ditty like on BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. I'm talkin' a full-blown soundtrack packed with hot new tunes."
"You for serious?" asked Tommy.
"Hot damn!," said Nick.
"So, in a way, you're not being left behind at all. You're just holding down the fort. And I expect to hear some sizzling new songs- or shall we say 'sea chanties'- on my return."
"You better believe it!," exclaimed Tommy.
The trio piled up their hands and let out that familiar cheer: "COOOOOOOOP DE VILLES!!!"
3:04 A.M. June 15, 1992. The home of John Carpenter.
John Carpenter packed his suitcase; the flight left in three hours. His bag felt light, as if he were forgetting something. He wondered to himself- is this a mistake? What would Hawks do? Hey- Hawks basically remade RIO BRAVO again and again. EL DORADO. RIO LOBO. Nobody thought less of him. Then again, CAPTAIN RON hadn't even come out yet, and wouldn't for three months. John hadn't even watched it, to boot. What if it were terrible? What if he placed too much trust in Kurt's enthusiasm? These are the things that plague us, John decided. Best not to think too much on it. He remembered back to how edgy he'd been right before THE THING. All that Hollywood money riding on his success, when all he'd wanted to do was stay home and play Parcheesi with Adrienne. Well, that's not true, he thought- THE THING was a film that he needed to make. But that was so long ago. How can ten years feel so long? A lifetime ago. Several lifetimes. It's best not to dwell on the past, or on the passage of time, John resolved. Kurt lives primarily in the moment, he surmised. Perhaps they could discuss it one night during the shoot. Preferably not when Kurt was on one of those "Cap'n Ron Malibu Benders" he'd been bragging about. As to the so-called "incredible lucidity" of said benders, John supposed he'd just as soon take Kurt's word for it. No need to bring Malibu into this. John swiftly zipped up his bag. "You ready, Sandy?" he asked.
"Yup. Ready to supervise some scripts."
"You got your work cut out for you on this one." He smooched his wife. "Let's go."
TO BE CONTINUED IN "CARPY & THE CAP'N PART II: RETURN TO POINT REYES"...