“It so freaked me out”: Rob Zombie Calls this Wholesome Family Film a “Mind-blowing experience”

Rob Zombie
Rob Zombie, photo: Michael Moriatis / ©AMC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Rob Zombie came to prominence by way of his musical stylings but has since made a name for himself in the genre film space. People that love his movies, really love his movies. While those who don’t connect with his work seem to be equally outspoken. One thing is for sure, after more than 20 years on the filmmaking scene, Zombie is as divisive now as he ever was.

Years back, Zombie sat down with the fine folks at the Rotten Tomatoes blog to speak to his five favorite films. There are several obvious choices among his selections but one stood out to me as particularly unexpected. I’m talking about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Zombie recalls the film as the first live-action picture he saw in theaters and it imprinted upon the musician-turned-filmmaker in a big way.

“In terms of mind-blowing experiences, I would say the first film was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, just because I think — I’m pretty sure — that’s the first time I ever saw a live-action movie in a movie theater as a kid,’ Zombie told Rotten Tomatoes. “My dad took me and my brother to see it. I think up till then I’d only seen one animated movie in a movie theater. I think it was Robin Hood, which, for some reason, was really boring to me. But we went to see Willy Wonka, and I was so blown away, and it so freaked me out, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for years. I had watched movies on TV and stuff, but that was the first time I think I was old enough to go to the movies, and be able to sit through a movie without wanting to get up and run around the theater. Just seeing it that big and getting sucked into it. I don’t even think I realized those were actors and that anything was fake. I think I just thought it was all real, that Charlie was a real kid, and Willy Wonka was a real person. I really think I thought it was real. I really thought the whole family lived in that one room. I was probably in second grade or something… So I probably didn’t actually think it was real, but I responded to it like it was real.”

The film is an adaptation of the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The picture follows a young boy who wins the chance to enter the factory of an eccentric, reclusive chocolatier.

The story for Chocolate Factory has reentered the zeitgeist recently as an event in Glasgow attempted to cash in on the recognizable IP … to negative response. While the Meth Lab Oompa Loompa and Unknown memes are still going strong, we can’t help but wonder what a child Rob Zombie was like watching this movie for the first time.

If you’ve somehow made it this far without taking in this Technicolor fever dream, fear not. You can find Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory streaming on Max as of the publication of this post.



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