Filmmaker, musician, performer, and all-around Renaissance guy Rob Zombie is coming out with another horror film, called, simply, 31. It takes place in the five days leading up to Halloween and follows the fates of five people who’ve disappeared.
31 is set in a place called “Murder World,” and so of course, me being the 70s cinema geek I am, my first question to Rob was whether or not he was influenced by Michael Critchton’s Westworld. He shut me down on that one, stating, “No, not at all.”
So then I asked if it was inspired by haunted houses or Halloween mazes. I was getting warmer. He replied, “The movie’s not really inspired by this, but what kicked off the idea was the Great American Nightmare I was running and promoting [last year]. I was just watching the crowds running in terror from clowns running around with chainsaws and things. And I thought, ‘Oh, man, it’s so funny watching people be scared and be chased. People hate being chased.’ And they know it’s totally fake. I was like, ‘I don’t know; people certainly hate clowns.’ So I was inspired by that. That was what we were thinking; [it was] the light bulb moment about something that could be our next movie.”
After months of teasing fans with video clips and mysterious messages, Zombie unveiled via Rolling Stone a crowd-funding campaign for his new film at RZ-31.com.
Rolling Stone noted, “The director is offering up a variety of high-quality rewards to people who want to support the movie, including autographed posters, a chance for Zombie to follow a winner on Twitter, a winner’s name in the credits, a lifetime laminate to see Zombie on tour at any show, and a gig as an extra in 31. Zombie will also offer selected props from his movies, including Halloween masks and giant crosses from House of 1000 Corpses.”
Rob said, “I’m crowd-funding because I realize that it’s an incredible opportunity to engage the fans. They’ve always been the most important thing for me because, with metal and horror, the fans aren’t just fans – it’s their life, their lifestyle. They live and breathe it, as I do, and any way that you can bring the people that are as passionate about it as you are into the process is a win-win for everybody.”
When I talked to him, I asked what he thought about the stigma associated with crowd-funding. Although it’s definitely becoming more acceptable, some people do still see it as a virtual tin cup. Asking him to tell us a little bit about what pushed him over the edge to go ahead and try it for the first time, Rob replied, “Yeah, I mean, I felt the same way, you know, because I didn’t really know too much about it. When the idea to do this came up, I was like, ‘I don’t know; it seems kind of weird.’ And I wrestled with it for a long time. And the way that I kind of got my head around was it that well, we’re not asking for free money. That’s not the case. Actually, it’s people are donating money and then receiving something that’s basically equal that value in return. It’s more just kind of running an online 31 store in advance of the film. And in that case it didn’t really bother me. You know… it’s not mandatory. If someone wants to do it, they could do it; and if they don’t, they don’t have to… There are things that people have mentioned to me over the years, but they usually mentioned them too late. You know, ‘Oh, can I get an autographed this or that, or how do I be an extra? Or how could I do this?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, we can do all those questions I always get asked now.’ And when we put it all together, that was the thing… it was like, okay, this seems cool; this doesn’t seem too weird. I mean, if I was a kid and something was happening that I could be a part of, cool! So that stigma didn’t seem appropriate in this case.”
If you’d like to check it out, “It’s pretty easy to find,” says Zombie. “It’s at RZ-31.com, and it’s all over my Facebook page and Twitter. They could go there and see all kinds of stuff. Some of it’s original prop stuff left over from Halloween and some other movies and things, some used stuff. There’s a variety of things… these are the common sections though. I always look at that, and if anyone mentions a lot that they would like [something], we would try to add it. So it’s very fan-involved. It has been since day one. It ends on Halloween.”
Dread Central: As horror fans we, of course, do have the Halloween franchise to go to, but relatively speaking there are not that many horror films centered around the holiday. Is that the basic concept for 31 then?
Rob Zombie: Yeah, it’s very simple. It’s Halloween, [but what’s] another good term for it? That’s when I thought about 31, that’s a nice symbol for October 31st. And really the concept is very simple. Five people are kidnapped the day before Halloween, taken to a location, they don’t know where they are, and forced to fight for their lives in a sort of a ‘Most Dangerous Game’ scenario until one second past midnight, when it becomes November 1st. And if they’re alive, they’re released; if they’re dead, well, obviously they’re dead. And so that’s the simple concept. And what killed it was I was doing some research and Halloween is the number one day of the year that people go missing.
DC: Really? I had no idea.
RZ: Which is understandable. Since everyone’s in costume, it would be pretty easy to kidnap somebody on Halloween. And I thought, wow, that’s really kind of scary. That thought was actually one of the big inspirations.
DC: Will you be working with your favorite actors again in the film? Will we get to see Bill Moseley and Sid Haig and Sheri?
RZ: I don’t know if they’ll be in this one. You know, I’m still working on it. I’m not sure. There’ll probably be some recognizable faces from the past, and there will be a lot of new faces. That would be my guess.
DC: As a fan, of course, you watch horror movies all year round. But I’m wondering, what does Rob Zombie like to watch on Halloween? Do you have a favorite holiday film?
RZ: I like going back to all the classic stuff… I think it’s because that’s what I would watch when I was a little kid when it was Halloween. So any early Universal stuff, you know, when I’m in the mood. But, of course, ‘The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.’ If that does not play, Halloween did not happen.
31 is the story of five random people kidnapped during the five days leading up to Halloween and held hostage in a place called Murder World. While trapped inside this man-made Hell, they must fight to survive by playing the most violent game known to man… a game called 31.