Exclusive: Rob Zombie Explains How THREE FROM HELL Could Have Been Much Different
*Spoiler Alert: This article contains mild spoilers for Three From Hell, though plot points discussed are revealed in the first five minutes of the film. Still, if your goal is to know as little as possible about a movie until you’ve seen it, bookmark this page and come back after you’ve seen Three From Hell.*
Global content leader Lionsgate and Saban Films are unleashing horror icon and heavy metal mastermind Rob Zombie’s 3 From Hell, the follow-up to House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, as the next chapter in the blood-soaked crime saga. The film will be released in nearly 900 select movie theaters on September 16, 17 and 18, 2019 through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network. Fathom Events will broadcast the unrated version to theaters with each night featuring unique bonus content.
**Tickets for the September 16th/17th/18th nationwide release of 3 FROM HELL are available at FathomEvents.com/3FromHell**
No one really expected a sequel to The Devil’s Rejects for one specific reason: The central Firefly Clan was killed 15 years ago! Even Rob Zombie considered Rejects the end of the story. It was only after a decade + of seeing how much these characters meant to fans that the shock-rocker-turned-filmmaker considered revisiting the saga first launched in 2003 with House of 1,000 Corpses. The potential return of the Firefly Family was a common topic of conversation during horror convention panels.
When the urge finally hit him, Zombie knew time was of the essence: “Everyone’s getting older and you never know how much time you have left,” he tells us. “It was now or never.” While it’s difficult to acknowledge (and hard to even write about) the health of Captain Spaulding actor Sid Haig was a major concern and had a profound effect on the direction of Three From Hell. Read our exclusive interview below to find out how.
Dread Central: How hard was it for you to come up with a way to essentially bring the Firefly Family back to from the dead?
Rob Zombie: I used a lot of Terry Reid songs in The Devil’s Rejects off his album Seed of Memory. And there was one song “Faith to Arise” which I used for the end titles. And that song would always make me think of a way to start the next movie. I’d go, “Oh well, whatever, I’m never going to do it,” and I would put it out of my mind, but it would just never go away. That track, always sounded like a missing track off The Devil’s Rejects at that’s what inspired me to get the next one going.
DC: Even though Captain Spaulding only has a small part in Three From Hell, his presence is felt throughout the film. Can you talk a bit about how his absence is as important as his presence?
RZ: Well, his absence is just something that was unavoidable. Because the “Three” from Hell are Captain Spaulding, Otis, and Baby, and that’s the script I wrote. That was the movie I was getting ready to make. And then, about three weeks out from the first day of shooting, I remember it so clearly: I was driving to the set, you know, the soundstage to oversee the building of the sets and I thought to myself, “This is the most prepared I’ve been for a movie—ever! What could possibly go wrong?” And my phone rings and its Sid calling, saying, “I’ve been in the hospital for a while. I’m out of the hospital but now I’m in a physical rehabilitation facility.” And I thought, “Oh my God, what is going on!” So we talked for a while and he told me what was wrong (which I’m not going to say). I went and visited him and when I went he looked like he had lost about 80 pounds. And I thought, “Well, I’ve got to do something because he isn’t physically capable of playing the part as I wrote it. Not possible.” So I kept rewriting the movie, lessening Captain Spaulding little by little, thinking “Okay, he can do this much; in a week he’ll be better and he’ll be out of there and feeling good.” But it just never really worked out that way.
With him being almost 80-years-old, he had to get cleared by a doctor and an insurance company before Lionsgate would let him work. He couldn’t pass the physical and they wouldn’t clear him so I’m like, “Oh great, now they won’t even let him be in the movie!” So I went to Lionsgate and they agreed to let him in to shoot as much as I could. Because, Sid and I had talked about this; he wants to be in the movie and the character is important to the story and the fans. So I shot as much as we could and did my best to complete the journey of Captain Spaulding. But what it is is not what I was planning in the years leading up to it. But what can you do? You plan one thing but Life has another plan.
DC: As we speak, Sid Haig is in the hospital recovering from an accident. He’s been upfront about the fact that his health has been declining over the past few years. Do you think Captain Spaulding would have had a bigger part in Three From Hell had Sid been in better shape?
RZ: Oh yeah, he was through the who movie. Richard Brake’s character Foxy didn’t exist in the original script. That was something I made up as I could see that Sid couldn’t do the movie. So in the last three weeks leading up to shooting the script was in a constant state of rewriting—constant chaos because of Sid’s health. And I kept hoping for the best and it just didn’t pan out. And I was happy when he came in and I’m happy with what we got because for a while I didn’t think we were going to get anything. At the end of the day, I think everything worked out great. It wasn’t what I had planned, but for all the chaos we endured, the film turned out great.
DC: What made you decide that Richard Brake was ready for a starring role in one of your films?
RZ: I had worked with Richard twice before. He had a small role in Halloween II and a major part in 31. I love how he works, I love his vibe, we get along great, and he fits right in with everybody. The group of actors I work with all have a certain vibe and you either fit in or you don’t. Richard totally fits in.
When I called Richard to do the movie, I wasn’t even sure if he was available. He works a lot. At that point, he was in Spain shooting a movie. I was like, “Aw, fuck man!” because if he couldn’t do it, I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was complete chaos. But it’s funny because we were on the phone and he said, “Well, my hair’s kind of long now and I grew a beard for this movie.” I was like, “Perfect! Don’t do anything! Just get to LA.” So he flew to LA as soon as he wrapped and got to work immediately. I think he read the script for the first time on the plane coming over.
DC: He definitely kills it (pun intended) as Foxy! Something Brake told me during our recent interview is that he’d love to do a Doom-Head feature film. What are the chances you’ll make a 31 spinoff?
RZ: I haven’t given that any thought, so who knows. Every movie I’ve ever made is a “who knows” scenario. Every movie I thought I was making next isn’t what actually happens. So who knows!
DC: Three From Hell is more fun than House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. There was almost a celebratory tone to it. Was it more fun to film than the first two Firefly movies?
RZ: Not necessarily. For some reason, all of those movies have always been the most fun. I don’t know what it is. Some movies are fun to make and some are… not! [Laughs] But these three movies were always a great time and that has everything to do with the vibe between the people. And even though a lot of people were new, I tried to bring back as many people as I could from the past Firefly movies, even in the crew department. It was part of my plan to recapture the spirit of Rejects. And it’s amazing how quickly that happened. As soon as the wig went on Bill Moseley and Sheri [Moon Zombie] was standing next to him with her hair all curly, I was like, “Wow, it doesn’t feel like 15 years since the last time we did this. It seems like just yesterday.”
DC: Fantastic! So, what’s next for the Firefly family?
RZ: I don’t know! Maybe once this thing is out my mind will start thinking in that direction.
DC: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers before I let you go?
RZ: I’ve been trying not to say too much because it’s hard these days not to spoil a movie. But I wanted to bring things full circle in a unique way. So there’s some of the vibe from 1,000 Corpses and some vibe of The Devil’s Rejects creating a new vibe for Three From Hell. I wanted every movie to be its own journey but somehow they all work together. I never want to talk down to the audience and go, “Here are all those catchphrases you’re waiting for and here’s the same shit you were waiting for,” because I think that’s cheesy. It might seem cool the first time you see it, but ultimately it feels hallow.
3 From Hell will reunite the Firefly clan (Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Sid Haig); the film will also feature Richard Brake, Emilio Rivera, Danny Trejo, Kevin Jackson, Wade Williams, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Pancho Moler, Daniel Roebuck, David Ury, Sean Whalen, Austin Stoker, Dee Wallace, Bill Oberst Jr., Dot-Marie Jones, and Tom Papa.
Are you excited to see 3 From Hell (in theaters beginning today)? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.