Musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie continues to tap into his dark side in Halloween 2, which Zombie originally had no interest in. In this exclusive interview with PAUL FISCHER, Zombie not only explains what changed his mind, but talks further about his plans for The Blob and his music
Question: When I spoke to you about the first Halloween movie, you weren’t particularly keen on the idea, at the time, of doing a second one. And I was wondering, what kind of changed your mind about getting back into this world?
Zombie: Many things changed my mind. I mean, yeah. When I talked to anyone after the movie was done – you know, because usually you finish the movie, then you do press. And the first question is like, ” Are you going to do Halloween II?” And I was like, ” No.” I was so burnt out after making Halloween. Halloween was a very difficult shoot. It was not particularly enjoyable. And the thought of doing anything Halloween again just seemed like, no way. But then time went by. You know, a year and a half went by. And I had passed on it. Weinstein Company didn’t even ask me about it, because I was so clear that I didn’t want to be part of it. And then – you know, actually I had heard they were making the movie with somebody else, so I didn’t even think about it. And then I ran into one of the executives at something and I asked him, I said, ” How’s filming on Halloween II going?” Because I was curious, because all the actors are my friends, and I was curious how things were going. And he said, ” Oh, man. We haven’t even started yet. We don’t even have a script. We don’t even have an idea what to do.” So at that point, I had gone on tour, finished a record, been around – you know, around the country, touring, and stuff. And I didn’t have my next movie. And I was – you know, recuperated for sure. And I was like – the idea of coming back to it seemed really interesting to me at that time. Because I had missed all the actors, and I really – you know, I liked what we had started, and I really, at that point, wanted to continue it on.
Question: Now, what was important to you in developing the script for the sequel, that had been not prevalent when they were developing it in the first place?
Zombie: Well, what was important to me is, I wanted it to play different than anything had played before, because usually with movie franchises like this, it’s very rare that the same director returns, with the same cast. You know, usually it changes hands, and the whole thing changes direction. But since I was coming back, I really wanted to pick it up like part two. Like, completely follow it logically. What would be – because I thought – you know, the events of the first film are pretty traumatic, are pretty big. What would be the outcome of the first film, and the lives of all the characters – and really follow it through, as a real dark, human drama. You know? That’s the way I looked at it.
Question: How much more horrific did you want to make this film? I mean, how much more violent did you want to make it, or did you want to step up, pump it up?
Zombie: I wanted to expand every aspect of it. You know, when I went back and looked – I’m always really critical of my own work, so I don’t have a problem with that. You know, I went back and looked at Halloween, and I thought – you know, to me, this film looks a little too clean. It looks a little too safe. It looks a little bit claustrophobic. Everything’s confined in this suburban neighborhood, in these suburban homes. I really wanted to open up the scope of the movie. And to me, this film, Halloween II, is very much – this seems like the logical follow-up to Devil’s Rejects. I went back, I went for a different approach, just from the film stock to the lighting. You know, just – it’s much darker, grainer, grittier, dirtier film. And it seemed appropriate this time, because in the first Halloween, you have these characters like Laurie Strode. And they’re very, like, happy-go-lucky all-American girl characters. They’re not dark and damaged. But now, all the characters have survived this horrible night of murder. So, all the characters are scarred inside and out. So it made it much easier to concoct this sort of darker, nastier vision of Halloween. And I thought that – you know, you really want to take it to new places. You know, and make the violence more extreme, make the – just make everything more extreme. Because you just don’t want to feel like, ” Oh,” you’re going and you’re getting less of what you got the first time. So. And you’re amping it up all the way around.
Question: So, would you say this is much more a Rob Zombie film than the first Halloween?
Zombie: I would. I would say that the first half of Halloween is very much a Rob Zombie film. And that was one thing I took away from it, too. That every – basically every single person I’ve ever talked to about the movie likes the first half of the movie better. And that was the part that was original. When it became sort of re-makish of John Carpenter’s stuff – you know, it has – that was the part that people liked less. So, that’s – when I went to do this, I wanted to be real conscious, ” This is my movie. The characters, the scenarios, the settings, everything. This is just so me, all the way through.” That was very important. And I think for that reason – you know, I mean, the film just came out last night at midnight. But everyone I’ve talked to who’s seen it, the response has been so overwhelmingly positive, because this is like – they feel it’s more me, and that’s what they always liked in the first place.
Question: Did you get any feedback from Carpenter after your first film came out?
Zombie: No, I didn’t talk to him about it. I talked to him before I made the movie, and I haven’t talked to him since. I mean, I didn’t really want to call him up and say, ” What did you think?” He probably never even saw it. Because – I mean, I’ve known John for a while. And sometimes I get the feeling like – you know, talking about Halloween 30 years later is not that high on his priority list. So – you know, if he ever wanted to talk about it, I’d talk about it. But I certainly wasn’t about to pester him about it.
Question: Now, how important is it for you to balance your music with your movie-making career?
Zombie: I mean, it’s incredibly important, because both are equally important to me. And they’re a great balance, because I have – you know, having a music career, which – obviously there’s no other director I know of that has this sort of dual career. It’s really helpful to me. Because – you know, you make a movie, you make it very much in a vacuum. Just you and the crew. It goes out there. You get feedback, but it’s not the same as, like, playing a live concert. And what’s great is, once the movie’s done and in the can and done – you know, I’m going to go on tour for my record, and tour and go out and you meet thousands and thousands of kids every day, and be surrounded by the public. And you really get a sense of what is going on out there, with your fan base. I mean, you can do that somewhat on-line. But on-line is – it’s so faceless. You don’t really get a true sense. I feel like it’s always really distorted, what’s on-line. But when you go out there, and you really get amongst people – I mean, I found that out this year when I went to Comic-Con. Because they were always asking me at Comic-Con, ” Wow. What is it like to be surrounded by all these fans?” And like – it’s no big deal. Because this is what it’s like being on tour. But I can tell for the actors and the other directors, they’re like – ” Whoa! I’ve never been in a room surrounded by thousands of fans of what I do.” So, it’s a really good balance. It really gives you a good gauge of what’s going on out there.
Question: So, what is happening with you musically at this point?
Zombie: Well, I have a new album I finished before I’d shot Halloween II. And that comes out in November, and I’ll be back on the road touring with that.
Question: And does that album reflect more of who you are now than your previous work?
Zombie: It’s hard to say. I mean, everything always reflected who I was. You know, but things change with times. I mean, I’m not – music is tricky. It’s really hard for me to say – you know, when I hear it, it’s hard for me to say why it’s the same, or why it’s different. Sometimes I’ll make a record, I think it sounds really different. Someone says, ” Oh, that sounds like classic Rob Zombie.” I’m like, ” Okay.” And then I do something that I think sounds similar, and someone will tell me, ” That sounds so different.” Music is the weirdest thing. I mean, people see things very differently. Everyone has different opinions about movies. But boy, music – people really hear music differently.
Question: What would you like to do as a movie director now, that has been left cinematically left unsaid by you as a director?
Zombie: Well, I’ve made four complete films. Well, five. One’s animated. But the four films, I have not been able to stretch very far, because each one has – it’s really – House of 1000 Corpses, and Rejects was a sequel to that. Halloween, and Halloween II’s a sequel to that. So, just looking to stretch beyond things. I mean, in the amount of time that I’ve been making movies, I’ve really only had two groups of characters to deal with, and two different scenarios. So, you know, just stretching outside. Every time you come across new actors to work with – there’s other people that I’d like to work with. And you’re just always trying to stretch the boundaries of what you can do. And – you know, I’d like to transition out of horror. Not leave it completely, but – you know, you want to be free to do whatever you want, and not get stuck in a genre. Because sometimes it can be very confining, because certain genres seem to have, like, very preconceived ideas of what the movie should be. And when you try to break beyond it, it seems to freak people out.
Question: Is there a particular genre that you’re dying to have a go at?
Zombie: Well, one of my favorite things has always been Westerns.
Question: Oh, me too.
Zombie: And I think now is the time to really do something with the Western. And it’s a tough sell, because – you know, Westerns, in general, they seem antiquated to younger audiences. And usually when they do make Westerns, they don’t really update them in any sort of way. They play ’em pretty straight. And sometimes they can come across pretty dry. But – you know, I think that there’s such great stories to be told there. I mean, to me, when I made Devil’s Rejects, that was me wanting to make a Western but not having the funds at the time. I mean, it’s basically three outlaws on the run from a sheriff. I mean, it’s a Western. You know, we take out the cars and put in horses, and there you go.
Question: Do you have any ideas for your next film, or are you going to focus on music right now?
Zombie: Yeah. I mean, right now, it got announced yesterday. I’m working with these people who own the rights to The Blob, and they want to do a remake of The Blob. And they came to me, and they said, you know, ” We own The Blob. Do you want to do it? You can do anything you want with it.” And what I thought was – you know, at first I was like, ” Oh, I don’t want to do anything else that’s a remake.” But when someone says, ” You can do anything with it,” it’s essentially not a remake anymore. It’s whatever you want to do. But what I liked about it, what’s really different for me is, it’s a science fiction movie. So, it’s not – you know, violent, and a movie with people running around stabbing each other. So, it’s cool. It’s breakaway.
Question: The Blob was very much a product of its time. It was as much about the 1950s as it was about a genre. I mean, would you pay any homage to the original? I mean, I know that some bloggers, some people that I’ve read have commentated that it would be cool to get, like, Karen Black or somebody from that era into this new movie. Would you completely divorce yourself from the original, or do your own thing?
Zombie: I think I would 100 percent do my own thing, because if there’s anything that I’ve learned over the last bunch of years, it’s you gotta do your own thing. When you’re not doing 100 percent your own thing, you’re doing sort of a disservice to everything. It’s really – the only way something is – you have to make it 100 percent pure vision of what you want to do. Anything else is – it becomes chaos, because – you know, it’s kind of like I was saying with the back half of Halloween, when you’re dealing with the John Carpenter characters. You’re like, ” I didn’t create these characters. I didn’t envision this character, so I don’t quite know where to go with it.” Whereas, like, in Halloween II, I’ve perverted and twisted the characters so much, they become mine, and it was easy to deal with. The same thing with The Blob. I’m not going to go back and just have – ” Somebody else will play the Steve McQueen role.” I’m not even going to look at that movie. I’m just going to completely flip it upside down from top to bottom.
Question: When do you hope to start prepping that?
Zombie: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t even have a script or anything yet. That’s something for next year.
Question: And I take it this is definitely the end of the Halloween franchise for you?
Zombie: Yeah. I mean, I ended the movie in a way I think is an ending. But unfortunately, you know, with these types of movies, no matter how you end it, somebody thinks you left it wide open for a sequel. So I’m sure there’ll be more coming down the road, but not with me.