Rob Zombie Interview, Halloween 2Posted by: Sheila Roberts.
At Comic Con we had a chance to sit down with Rob Zombie to talk about his newest film Halloween 2! It's that time of year again, and Michael Myers has returned home to sleepy Haddonfield, Illinois to take care of some unfinished family business. Unleashing a trail of terror that only horror master Rob Zombie can, Myers will stop at nothing to bring closure to the secrets of his twisted past. But the town’s got an unlikely new hero, if they can only stay alive long enough to stop the unstoppable.
Q: There’s obviously going to be an enormous amount of pressure on you for every movie. The pressure of the first one was you were going up against a classic, and with John Carpenter’s Halloween 2, there are lot of people that liked it and a lot of people that thought it was disappointing. It’s not so much sacrilegious territory if you mess with it a little bit. In my mind, that gave you free rein to do what you wanted. Is that how you approached it?
RZ: Oh yeah, totally. My Halloween 2 has nothing to do with their Halloween 2. It’s a completely different movie. It has nothing to do with it. The way the story unfolds is totally [different] so it didn’t matter. Like you said, the first one was different because you’re remaking a classic movie and that’s kind of weird. It was weird for me because I was as big a fan of the movie as anyone else, so it was really hard for me to distance myself from it and to see it a different way. That’s why this was good because I had gotten all the John Carpenter-ness out of my system. I felt free to do whatever all the time. That alone makes for such a better film. The last one, for me, always felt sort of 50/50 – like this is clearly my section and this is clearly how do we mess around with John’s section. It’s kind of tricky.
Q: This is probably the only time you’ll be compared to Judd Apatow, but it seems to me you have a little bit of a collective of Ken Foree, Bill Moseley, William Forsythe and you’ve pretty much killed off all the guys in the cast from the first movie. What was it like assembling the cast for the new one?
RZ: It was fun. There were a lot of returning people. I think all directors do that if you notice, if you look. Even Carpenter, who watches movies, in the first scene says, “Oh that guy and that guy.” People start popping up a lot. Tim Burton, John Ford, everyone does it because I think there’s such a pressure on set to get things done so fast and so furious all the time that the more you have an actor that you’re confident in, that’s going to show up, nail it, and that’s going to be a good person to be around, the more you always want to work with them because sometimes you don’t know. People show up and you think they’re going to be great and they’re a huge pain in the ass and they’re real slow and they don’t mind wasting a whole day. They don’t know their lines. So, you do want to use the same people a lot, not to the detriment of the movie, but on this one a lot of people were dead. Then again, Scout was coming back and Danielle Harris and Brad Dourif and Malcolm McDowell so it was sort of like the new group. I always try to add new people to the repertoire company of people that I can pull from. There were some new people and Dan Roebuck came back but there’s a couple of new people that I’ve met that are just awesome that I’d love to work with again like Richard Brake who’s incredible and Jeff Phillips. I’m always looking to add new people to the list.
Q: You’ve got four main characters in this movie that are essentially changed from the last. Can you talk a little bit about the evolution of these characters and how Michael gets where he is now and Scout?
RZ: That’s what I thought was kind of exciting about the movie. For me, I’ve said this before, I struggled with the first Halloween because the first half of the movie is very much my characters and the type of characters I like and the second half becomes like Laurie Stroud, All American girl, her friend, Annie, and Linda. That’s like John Carpenter stuff. To me, I found the character of Laurie Stroud really boring to deal with, as like the little kids and everything is just not my thing. So that’s why I thought bringing Laurie Stroud back after she’s completely traumatized and completely fucked up makes her so much more interesting. The same with Annie and Sheriff Brackett and all these characters. They’ve all survived horrible, horrible events so they’re all much darker, damaged people, Dr. Loomis, everybody. It was far more interesting to me.
Q: The trailer has made a point that the story you want to tell is being told in two parts. Most films of this genre are usually one or a trilogy. What made two the magic number to tell the story you wanted to?
RZ: I never really thought about it. After the first one, I thought I was done. I really didn’t have some master plan to come back to do number 2. I was like, “Okay. I’m done.” And then I was going to go off and do something else and other people were hired – several different writers and directors to do Halloween 2 -- and I thought, “That ship’s sailed. It’s gone.” But then it never happened and I ran into somebody from Dimension at the Scream Awards and they said “We still don’t have anything.” I had a window of opportunity to do it. At that point too, I had read some of the pitches that other people were giving and I started becoming really protective of the characters because I was like, “I hate what they’re going to do with all these characters now.” And that’s when I came back on board. That’s when I figured two parts is good. You can wrap it up. You don’t really need to make it a trilogy. There was no real master plan for the story and I knew I didn’t want to come back for a third one because I think I would lose my mind. So, I tried to wrap it up in two.
Q: Who was your favorite horror character when you were young? What really turned you on to the genre?
RZ: I think probably King Kong was the first movie I ever saw that â€¦ it didn’t seem like a horror movie really but that characterâ€¦ All the movies I liked as a kid were – we didn’t call them horror movies, we called them monster movies because they all had a central monster at the center, like Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon. That was the stuff I loved and that’s why I thought Halloween was cool because a lot of these horror remakes, they’re sort of just concepts. You know, Last House on the Left or Black Christmas. There’s not like a central monster figure and that was what was great about Halloween or A Nightmare on Elm Street. There’s an iconic monster at the center of it that you get to work with and that’s why I thought it was very cool.
Q: What is it about horror that really gets you excited?
RZ: Thinking back on it, the way horror is now, I don’t know if it would excite me as a kid, but the stuff that I just mentioned, the monster was always sort of sympathetic, pathetic and misunderstood. It would do bad things but somehow he was the character you would feel bad for at the end. I think as a kid I related to that. I would just look out the window. I was one of those kids. You’d just feel like this weird outcast. Now there’s a 100,000 of them. But when I grew up, it was like me and one other kid down the street. We didn’t have the nerd nation to back us. We were just like two fucked up kids who didn’t know what to do. So I think that’s what it was. You just related to this monster because they were either ugly or pathetic and that’s what I liked about it. It’s not really like that now but that’s why I took Michael Myers in that direction because I guess I always have sympathy for the monster.
Q: What if Hollywood were to come to you with a bigger, $150 million film? Are you at that stage yet where you might consider it?
RZ: Bigger films have come to me but they always come with so much baggage. That’s the problem. I don’t really want to just play in the corporate world. I like to do my thing and once you go beyond certain budgets, it seems like you walk into a room and they have a meeting and this many people are already attached. Really? There’s 10 producers I’ve got to fuckin’ deal with already before I even have a meeting yet? And everybody has their idea about [it]. I’ve met on some big movies and I was like “I can’t deal with this.” One other person maybe, or a nobody, but when there’s already 10 people with like “I see it this way” and “I see it this way” and you can just smell this is going to be a tortuous experience and it’s going to end up being terrible because you’re going to have to make every single person sitting around the table happy all the time. That’s why you see these big movies and go “How do they make a $200 million movie that feels so like there’s no real vision behind it?” And you see a little indie movie and go, “Why do they have it together? They had no budget.” They had everything in the world and they just made a giant, fucking turd, and that’s why, because they get deluded through 9,000 useless people.
Q: It sounds like the story gets wrapped up in these two films. If the Weinstein Company continues to make subsequent films, would you like to be involved in some way? If not, what filmmakers would you like to see take the helm?
RZ: They’ve even said they don’t want to make any more. I don’t know if they do or they don’t. Who knows? I feel that sometimes making these movies is so stressful that, when you’re in the middle of it, nobody ever wants to start talking about the next one. You’re like, “Really? I haven’t even survived this one yet so I don’t want to talk about the next one.” No, I feel like with these two that it is wrapped up, for me, and they can go make more with whoever and I don’t want to be involved on any level, I don’t think.
Q: Where does T Rex fit into your schedule?
RZ: I have her album coming out and then I’m going to go on tour and then that will be the next movie after that. Halloween sort of interrupted that process because that was supposed to be the next movie.
Q: How far along is that?
RZ: I had a script and we had sort of scripted early pre-production/art direction days but then it all got put on hold.
Q: Is there such a thing as too much blood?
RZ: Yes, no, whatever, I mean, it depends on the movie, it depends on the situation. I’m not really a big fan of gore gags. If it’s organic to the scene, it’s great. The ending of Taxi Driver is pretty bloody and that’s amazing. But, when the movie stops and it’s like you just feel unsettled. “Okay, let’s bring in the FX guys.” You know, if it doesn’t take you out of the movie, but sometimes it does.
Q: What’s the most horrific thing you’ve seen on screen that you’ve picked up?
RZ: Ever? There’s a scene in Irreversible where the guy smashes another guy’s head with a fire extinguisher which is pretty knarly because it’s real. It feels organic. It’s just disgusting. It’s not likeâ€¦I can’t imagine an audience would watch that and cheer or laugh or clap. That’s pretty knarly. And the rape scene – that’s pretty knarly. But you watch something like Friday the 13th and it’s like watching a Roadrunner cartoon or something.
Q: You talked about how Laurie Stroud was the least interesting character for you to explore and it sounds like Michael Myers was the most interesting for you. Where did the other characters fall on that scale and was there another you were interested in looking into their back story?
RZ: Yeah. I tried to pack too much into the first film. I had a lot of back story written for Dr. Loomis. I was a huge fan of Halloween but I never really analyzed the movie. I just enjoyed it and I’ve seen it a million times. When I went in to make Halloween, I sat down and really watched it closely and I went, “Wow. There’s really not a lot of information in this movie.” Most of it, you’re filled in by sequels and just talking about it when kids are like, “Well Michael Myers has to be this way.” I was like, “Where does it say that? He’s just standing around in the shadows.” And I realized Dr. Loomis just kind of pops up. We don’t know anything about him and things are just coincidental. I really wanted to give everything a back story, but then I realized the movie would be 3 hours long. So, Michael got the back story and everyone else stayed a little vague.
Q: [remarking on the T-shirt Rob is wearing] Are you a fan of Deep Throat?
RZ: It’s actually a pretty terrible movie.
Q: What is sexy to you?
RZ: Oh, I don’t know.
Q: Not Deep Throat?
RZ: No, it was a good shirt though.
Q: Where’d you get it?
RZ: Someplace on tour. I don’t remember where.
Q: There’s a moment in the new film toward the end where Michael does something extremely unexpected. Has that been talked about yet?
RZ: I haven’t talked about it to anybody. Truthfully, I’m not exactly sureâ€¦ that’s the thing. People come down to the set and they see things filmed and they report it but it’s not even in the movie. That’s the problem. Literally, our first cut was 4 hours so now it’s like whatever. 100 minutes.
Q: We might as well just say Michael Myers does not speak in the new movie.
RZ: No, he doesn’t talk in the movie. I filmed him talking in the first movie and didn’t use it either. There was always something, like I toyed with him saying a couple things. It seems kind of stupid.
Q: We were all in shock when he started rolling across the hills going “Die!”
RZ: I didn’t use it.
Q: Will you ever want to take Werewolf Women of the S.S. into fruition?
RZ: I would love to but I don’t think it will ever happen. They talked about it for a brief moment right before Grindhouse came out, but I don’t think Grindhouse turned out to be quite the hit they were hoping for so I don’t know if there’s any plans to make any of those movies. I heard Eli talk about making Thanksgiving but I don’t know if he actually is or not. I would like to make that movie, but I don’t think it will ever happen.
Q: You’ve talked a lot about being frustrated with the first film and dealing with your section and Carpenter’s section. One might get the feeling that maybe you don’t really like the first film so much?
RZ: I like the first half of it more, because when it’s my stuff, you feel very alive in shooting it. But then when it got into other stuff, I was likeâ€¦ You get on that tightrope and you’re like, well, if you change it too much, people will be bummed out. If you don’t change it enough, people are like, “Well, why did he even make the film?” I just felt like I’d never found the right groove all the way through. Whereas, on this film, it felt like it fell into a groove right away.
Q: You were saying that after the first one you didn’t necessarily have any plans to make a second one, but it seems to be maybe that would have given you an even greater impetus to make a second one and really put your stamp on it.
RZ: The main reason was you just have different experiences on films and Devil’s Rejects was a great experience from start to finish. Everything about it went perfect. Everyday was fun and it was a joy. Halloween was just one of those movies where every day was a fucking nightmare with everything. People that were your best friends that you’d worked with became your enemies that you never spoke to again. It was just weird. There was just some bad energy on that movie where everything was a problem. Everything was a problem. I think that’s why I was like, “Arghhhh!” when it was done. But Halloween 2 was like Devil’s Rejects. It was one of those things where it locked into a groove and it just went beautiful and that makes such a difference.
Q: Can you talk about fitting your characters from Rejects and Halloween into Superbeasto?
RZ: Superbeasto is funny because the project went on for so long that we kept working. We kept working so right up to the end we just kept adding in more funny gags. I had started Superbeasto when I was editing Rejects. So, right to the last second, we were like “Oh!” I had just finished Halloween and I was like, “Let’s have Superbeasto hit Michael Myers with his car.” It was like the one last gag we fit into the movie before we locked the picture.
Q: Was that a quickie?
RZ: Yeah, that was a quick thing. We put Werewolf Women in there. We had just enough time. I had one last week of new gags I threw in the movie and then locked it.
Q: How much time did it take getting there?
RZ: Oh, he’s in one or two scenes. It’s quick. There’s like a million cameos. The whole world that El Superbeasto lives in is like â€¦ all the other characters are like either Dr. Fives (??) in Edward Scissorhands. They’re all iconic monster characters, so that whenever possible, I went and got the people who were those characters to do the voices. There’s a brief moment where Varla from Faster Pussycats, I found Tura Satana and she did the voice, just stuff only real fans will even notice or care about but it was fun. So that’s why I got Bill and Sid to just do their things.
Q: In this day and age, when filmmakers can so directly and immediately interact with fans through the internet, how much do you regard all the buzz, the chatter, and the suggestions that are out there?
RZ: I ignore all of it because I think it doesn’t serve any purpose – not in the sense that the fans don’t matter, but it’s just such a crazy process that you have to be so focused on what you’re doing and when people start weighing in, you know, because you can’t make everybody happy, and I think if you start listening to everybody, you start thinking, “Oh, they like that so we’ll do that. Oh wait! That guy hates that. But now we just did it because they said they like it.” It becomes such a clusterfuck of insanity because if you listen to the fans, they can’t agree with each other so it’s not like they’re all saying, “Do this.” You just have to ignore it. I listened to it a little bit on the first film just because people were so interested that I was like, “Oh wow, people are really interested.” But then it just became insanity so now I don’t pay any attention at all because I found out there’s really no benefits from it.
Q: So what do you think of the heavy metal scene?
RZ: I don’t have a clue what is going on. I don’t have a clue.
Q: There’s this whole thing going on with reboots where the first one is the remake but then the subsequent ones are original stories. Are there any other iconic horror films that you’d like to see original stories to or even participate in yourself?
RZ: No. It’s kind of a weird thing now because everything’s a remake. I mean, they literally do not want to make movies that aren’t remakes. I get offered remakes every day and they’ll want to remake the most obscure thing. Like nobody even knows what this is. What is the name value of remaking a movie that no one’s ever heard of? But they still feel that somehow that makes it a safer bet. I just want to stick to doing original stuff. I don’t know if that’s possible because just the way the industry is going. I say it as a joke but now I know it’s 100% true. In about 10 years, I know I’m going to get that call, “We want to remake House of a 1,000 Corpses” because I already know that has more name value than half the stuff I’m getting called about. That seems so weird to me. I just know it’s the nature of the beast now.
Q: Do you own the rights to that?
Q: What’s the most fucked up or obscure movie they’ve asked you to do a remake of? Or is it all hush-hush?
RZ: No, it’s not hush-hush, but I’d rather not say because then it sounds insulting to whomever then did take the job and is going to do it so I don’t want to say.
Q: There’s enough faith in the box office potential of anything you do now that you’re pretty much able to swing your own gigs. Are there any projects beyond T Rex that you’re hot to start moving on?
RZ: No. T Rex is a thing I’ve been really passionate about for years now. It always felt like the perfect follow-up to Rejects and I really want to get back to that. I don’t like toâ€¦some people will announce the next 7 films they’re doing. I hate doing [that]. People always try to get me to do that. “Why don’t you just attach yourself to all these projects?” I’m like, “Why? None of them are going to happen.” I like just picking one and doing it because I don’t understand. Even T Rex, I didn’t even want to announce that. It was supposed to go on the Weinstein schedule as Untitled Rob Zombie project. I was like, “Okay, fine. Who’s going to want to talk about that?” But then they put Tyrannosaurus Rex up and everybody started asking me about it but we weren’t anywhere near making the movie yet. And then it makes it seem like “Oh they just announce things and they’re never going to do it.” I don’t like doing that. I like to say what I’m going to do and then do it.
Q: Could you give us an outline on T Rex?
RZ: It’s not a horror movie. It’s an incredibly violent action movie, sort of, but old school, like gritty 70s action movie.
Q: I was watching an interview with Malcolm McDowell with old footage from the Halloween press tour and he said you were as talented and as focused a director as he had ever worked with. Given, of course, A Clockwork Orange, that’s an incredibly high compliment. He said he really hoped you moved on and did stuff other than horror and by that he included very violent action films. Is there any chance you would branch out beyond the action and horror genre?
RZ: Oh yeah. I mean, definitely. I just like movies. I like all kinds of movies. I don’t want to just do one type of thing although it’s more and more of a world where that’s what people want you to do. If you have success in one thing, they really just want you to keep doing it over and over and over. So, it is hard to break away and do other things because people don’t really want that. Everything now is they just want to finance things that they feel are safe bets. That’s why. They just want to do remakes. So yeah, I definitely want to branch out because horror movies, they’re great. I have no bad feelings about anything I’ve done or anything like that but they do sometimes feel limiting in a way of what you can do within the boundaries – not so much back in the day – it seems like people are more and more wide open to what they will accept but now it seems like things start becoming “Well, here’s the beast that everyone is expecting.” And, if you vary from it too much, they’re like “Wow.” Except maybe with Devil’s Rejects, I was like “What the fuck?” Lionsgate said “We don’t know what to do with this. It’s not SAW. How do we market this?” “It’s a fucking movie. This is what you do, isn’t it? It has to be SAW or you don’t know what to do with it?” And then they literally started coming up with an ad campaign. That was the greatest experience of my life working with Lionsgate on making the movie. They left us 100% alone. They never said anything. But then, when it went to the marketing department, they wanted to just market it like SAW with severed heads and they had posters marked up with things that weren’t even from the movie. I was like, “Well, what the fuck? You know how to market one movie and then you’re dead?” And that’s why the marketing on that movie was some of the worst I’ve ever seen in my life and it just killed me. I digress.
Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
RZ: The craziest thing I’ve ever done? I don’t know. I’m terrible at answering questions like that. It all becomes a blur. The one thing I remember that was a recent thing where I was like â€¦ the craziest things you’ve ever done usually falls into the category of the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. One time when I was on Ozfest, me and Zakk Wylde stole these golf carts and we were just driving through the crowd at top speed. We hit somebody. They went flying. They had a bonfire. We drove through the bonfire and we thought, “Oh let’s see if we could crush the portapotties with these golf carts not thinking a) that they might be filled with shit or b) there might be people inside of them and we just crushed them with these carts and we thought, “Jesus Christ. We could’ve just killed someone.” We didn’t even think that there was someone in there so that was crazy and stupid.
Q: Have you ever considered changing your first name?
RZ: I did. It was Steve. I always use my first name otherwise I’d be totally confusing.
Q: Do you believe in the devil and if you went to hell, what would you do?
RZ: I don’t believe in any of that crap. It’s all nonsense. (Laughs) This is what we get. When you’re dead, you’re done. Enjoy the worm food.