This weekend Rob Zombie unleashes all the gory mayhem, bearded rednecks, and white horses you can stomach! The musician-turned-filmmaker sat down with Dread Central and a great big roundtable of journalists to talk about his craft, his love of horror, and hardships bringing Michael Myers back to the screen.
Beware of spoilers …
Q: What are horror movies all about for you?
Rob Zombie: For me it’s all about movies, period. Not necessarily just horror movies. I just like dark, violent material.
RZ: I dunno why. It’s funny cause I’m writing this thing about A Clockwork Orange for DGA Magazine, and I was doing some research and found that Roger Ebert gave this movie a horrible review back in 1972, and everything he said about why he hated was exactly why I like it. So I dunno. Life is weird and fucked up, so I like to see things that are weird and fucked up, I guess. I dunno.
Q: What movie really scared you for the first time?
RZ: As stupid as this kinda sounds, The Wizard of Oz. The flying monkeys and the witch; I remember seeing that when I was really little…and that scene still seems freaky.
Q: Willy Wonka scared the shit outta me…
RZ: Yeah, Willy Wonka too! You watch Frankenstein and it never seems scary, but Wizard of Oz is a freak show, man.
Q: You were very rushed with Halloween II. Is the movie coming out in theaters your version, or will there be a longer director’s cut?
RZ: Except for The Devil’s Rejects, I feel that everything has been compromised in some way by scheduling because Devil’s Rejects was the only movie I ever made that had no release date. We worked on it and worked on it until we got it right – or at least we felt like we got it right – and we kinda looked at it and went, “Y’know, there’s nothing else I wanna change. Nothing else I wanna do.” I’ve never had that luxury since. Editing is a crucial time, and when you sort of get rushed through that process, you’re never 100 percent sure that you’ve got exactly the perfect take of every actor, and there’s so much footage to go through and it’s so time consuming, and you do your best to deal with the time that you have. As far as the director’s cut, there’s another version of the movie that’s very different. There was two ways we could cut the movie. The way we cut it for theatrical was that Laurie Strode’s character is getting her life together before it starts spiraling downward. But in the other version she’s an incredible mess and just gets worse. She never has any good moments; she’s just messed up, she’s lashing out at everybody, she’s messed up on drugs. She’s really spun out through the whole movie, which makes for a real challenging movie to watch, and I don’t know if fans would’ve embraced so much darkness.
Q: Is there still a white horse motif in that version?
RZ: Yeah, everything is the same in that version except for her scenes. Mostly her relationship with Annie is horrible, and they’re at each other’s throats for the whole movie, which they aren’t in the theatrical version.
Q: There was an unreleased trailer on the web that showed some of that…
RZ: The trailer that got leaked I remember really, really liking. Every time I tried to watch it, it took forever to load…so I remember giving up on that trailer.
Q: Can you talk about your inspiration for the white horse motif?
RZ: I was just trying to find some significant thing that was a through-line. It could’ve been anything. There had to be some minor event in Michael’s life that had stuck in his brain that I then could tie through to Laurie. A white horse is such a great visual image, and when I was researching the meaning of dreams in books – which all seems like a load of bullshit to me – they all had a real significance with a white horse so it seemed like a real child-like image to carry through.
Q: You have a lot of empathy for your characters.
RZ: I like making things a bit wishy-washy. We don’t want people to feel bad for Michael Myers necessarily, but I don’t want him to be like, “He’s the villain and he’s scary, blah, blah, blah.” That’s why I like giving him something he didn’t have much in the other movies, which is making him more of a character. So you might feel a little bit bad because he’s this big hulking monster that still has the brain of a ten-year-old boy and he’s been locked away his whole life. It’s kind of like the Frankenstein scenario.
Q: Did you grow up with the original Halloween?
RZ: Of course!
Q: Did you ever imagine that you’d be doing one?
RZ: I would’ve never thought that in a million years. I didn’t even think that a couple of years ago.
Q: What was it like working on it?
RZ: It was pretty strange because once I had the meeting about the movie, they weren’t talking about a remake. They kept bringing up a sequel or a prequel or whatever. They weren’t really sure, and I didn’t really have any interest in carrying on with any of the storylines. I had lost any interest in Halloween after the first movie. That was the only one I really liked. And I never thought about remaking someone else’s material. That was a little weird. But then I watched the first movie again and came up with the idea of remaking it and thought, “Y’know, a lot of these story points are pretty vague.” If you just look at the first film, we don’t know anything about Michael Myers, we don’t know anything about Judith. We don’t even know if the two people who came up to him on the sidewalk after he killed them are even his parents. They don’t tell you anything. People assume it all, but you don’t know for sure. The other thing is that they talk about what happened, but they don’t ever show it. And I thought there was a lot there you could expand upon, and that’s how I got involved with it.
Q: So did anything in the hospital scene actually happen, or was it all just Laurie’s dream?
RZ: That’s just a dream.
Q: How is this film different for you?
RZ: Well, this film is more like a logical follow-up to The Devil’s Rejects whereas the first film felt like this weird side-step. I think that because it was someone else’s material kinda messed with me, like the first half of the movie was my thing, and the second half I had to bring in all these John Carpenter beats because that’s what people are expecting. Once I started doing that, I don’t think I had quite the enthusiasm for the film as I did with the new stuff because it’s someone else’s characters. That’s why in this movie I tried to flip them upside down and make them my characters.
Q: Have you ever wanted to do something different like a dark comedy?
RZ: Totally. I mean, even after my first movie I wanted to move on. The thing is it’s hard to get movies made. It’s virtually impossible. It’s hard to get people to greenlight projects so you sort of take them as they come and try to deal with them. I didn’t want to make House of 1000 Corpses 2, so I said I’m gonna make this movie called The Devil’s Rejects and make this sort of post-modern western. Technically it’s a follow-up cause it’s the same characters, but I had no interest in revisiting what I had already done. That’s the same thing with Halloween II; I tried to push it far away from what I had already done.
Q: What horror movies have you seen recently that you liked?
RZ: Horror movies in the theater I tend to avoid.
Q: Why is that?
RZ: I always feel like they’re gonna be lousy, and so many of my friends work on ’em and tell me, “Oh, this movie’s terrible. Don’t waste your time.”
Q: You’re called a member of the Splat Pack. Do you relate to that?
RZ: I don’t relate to that at all. I’m definitely a part of the “I don’t want to relate to any group that will have me as a member” mindset. So as soon as they started calling us The Splat Pack, I was like, “Please kick me out of that group immediately!” Same thing with music; every time there was a “scene,” I didn’t want anything to do with that. No offense to anyone in that group. A lot of them are friends of mine. I just want to be left alone.
Q: Is Tyrannosaurus Rex your next movie?
RZ: Yeah, I hope so.
Q: Do you hope to go back to the same freedom you had on Devil’s Rejects?
RZ: Yeah. I will not make another movie under these same circumstances again. It’s just not the way to do it. When you lock a release date and then you move the release date two months, it’s just not good. It’s good for everything but the cast, crew, and people who are creatively trying to make a good movie.
Q: Editing is the most important process…
RZ: That’s what makes or breaks a film. In Devil’s Rejects we had limited time and didn’t do reshoots, but we had time in post. Luckily I use the same editor on every movie, so that helps. The problem is, and I forget who said it, but nobody makes movies anymore. They just make schedules and they make budgets. They don’t make movies.
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