Exclusive Interview with Rob Zombie

Posted by: The Dude

Hey folks out there in the internet movie fan land! It's your favorite and mine, The Dude here, with another one of my fascinating interviews. This time, the victim is none other than Rob Zombie, noted musician and filmmaker, whose second feature The Devil's Rejects comes out on DVD this week in a regular theatrical cut as well as a 2 disc Unrated Director's Cut, which I know you movie fans will be picking up because it really will be far superior.

I'm a big fan of the flick (Search the archives for my review) as well as a fan of the man's music from back in my awkward years as a high school student. I know, it's tough to believe that I was ever awkward, but it's true.  Enough of my rambling, let's hear what Rob Zombie has to say. (Told in typical fashion by The Dude). Thanks to some of you readers who emailed in some questions, and without further ado, ye interview. A quick disclaimer. This interview is about a horror, thriller flick and some of the language is profane and not suitable for the young uns. So consider this interview rated R.

(Phone Rings a minute, then someone picks up)


Other Line: I think you have the wrong number.

The Dude: Oh, this isn't 323-(Number deleted)

Other Line: No, this is 323-(Number deleted, but it was different.

The Dude: Oh. My bad. I thought this was Rob Zombie.

Other Line: It's not, sorry.

The Dude: Well, have you seen Devil's Rejects? That movie kicks a supreme amount of ass.

Other Line: Please don't call me again.

(At this point, I hang up and dial the correct number. Moments later, I am connected with the man. After a few moments of me gushing over how much the movie kicked ass, I regain my focus and begin the interview)

The Dude: So, I'm a big fan, I think the movie is fantastic. I believe in my review I said "It has balls!"

Rob Zombie: Thank you.

The Dude: Do you find there has been a lot of resistance to your filmmaking career because of your musical background? I mean, sometimes filmmakers look down their noses at people who have been in other fields who suddenly feel that they can make a movie...

Rob Zombie: Yeah, I know what you're saying. I think that it was the case definitely with the first film (House of 1000 Corpses), and maybe even with the second film until people actually SAW the second film. But the response to Devil's Rejects has been so positive, that vibe has now gone away. People responded to the creative aspects of Rejects so strongly, that any kind of studio executive or even other filmmakers don't feel that I'm just "dabbling" in their world.

The Dude: That's good. It IS an outstanding film. I felt that it was a lot more confident. you know what you want to show, how you want to tell your story.

Rob Zombie: Yeah, I mean you can equate this stuff to anything else. Hopefully you get better each time you do it. You need the experience of doing it. The first film..it is what it is, the the second film improves on that. And I hope to make the third film far superior to the second one.

The Dude: By third film you mean your next film or another in this series of films...

Rob Zombie: No, I just mean what film I make next.

The Dude: I was curious if there would be another story with these characters.

Rob Zombie: I mean...if there is....it would be very difficult.

The Dude: Given the ending...

Rob Zombie: yeah, I don't know. I mean I don't think there'd be a point in doing it. For the most part third movies don't work. It almost never works. I can't think of when it did. Can you?

The Dude: (Thinks for a moment) I...

Rob Zombie: Return of the Jedi? Godfather 3? Should have just been left alone.

(Dude's note: A good two hours later, I thought of Army of Darkness and Day of the Dead. Hindsight 20/20 and all. I was talking to Rob Zombie, and I was just too into the moment. Sue me)

The Dude: Going back to Rejects, one of the things about it that gets me is that it's a lot more based in reality, for lack of a better phrase.

Rob Zombie: Yeah definitely

The Dude: No more Dr. Satan, no creepy basement full of dead bodies. Which, by the way, kudos on actually producing a house full of 1000 corpses and living up to the title.

Rob Zombie: Oh thanks. (Laughter). Ah, no, I wanted to base the film in reality. There's nothing in Rejects that couldn't actually happen. Everything could happen, and most of the major things in the film HAVE happened.

The Dude: I know I sound like a blathering idiot continuously heaping praise, but I'm gonna keep going on. I thought the use of music was outstanding.

Rob Zombie: Thank you.

The Dude: I speak of the Free Bird scene.

Rob Zombie: Yeah

The Dude: I caught Elizabethtown (Cameron Crowe's latest) last night, and THEY had a Free Bird scene.

Rob Zombie: Did they really? I haven't seen it.

The Dude: I liked the film a lot. But I'm sitting there, watching this emotional scene at a memorial service, and Free Bird's playing, but all I can think about is Otis, Baby and Captain Spaulding in the car at the end.

Rob Zombie: Free Bird was an idea I always wanted to do. It's one of those ideas where if it works it'll be great, but if it doesn't it's gonna be an 8 minute disaster. It's a pretty long end. I thought it worked great. I always liked it but wasn't sure until we screened it for an audience that it worked great. So then I was sure I made the right decision.

The Dude: I agree, you did make the right decision.There's also that great scene with Danny Trejo and Dallas Page in the brothel murdering everyone in the halls and all you hear is the music.

Rob Zombie: I had originally shot all those scenes as scenes with dialog, but as we were editing we came up with the idea of doing it that way.

The Dude: It works.

Rob Zombie: It's a weird movie, you know? I get really caught up in how well it plays. You know, it's the first time I've done something where I can stand back and enjoy it. Usually I can't do that. I've never been able to do that with my records or even with the first film, but for some reason this one I could do it with.

The Dude: Fantastic. That reminds me, I have to thank you for Astro Creep 2000. It helped me in my formative teenager years. Thank you, Rob Zombie.

Rob Zombie: Thank YOU.

The Dude: Alright, I wanna talk about the modern state of horror films, even though I wouldn't really consider Devil's Rejects a horror film, but I know a lot of people who do.

Rob Zombie: I'm never really sure what people call horror these days. People see things in one way or another

The Dude: Even though, in Rejects you have this family that does horrible, sick things, and yet...

Rob Zombie: Well, do you consider Silence of the Lambs a horror movie? Or what about Last House on the Left? It's always considered a horror movie, but it's essentially three criminals who've kidnapped two girls. I wouldn't really call that a horror movie. It's all just the trappings.

The Dude: It falls into it's own specialized niche.

Rob Zombie: It's like anything else. For people who are real fans of things they tend to break them down into specific categories. You notice it in music. Somebody will play you a band and you go "That's heavy metal," and they'll be "No, that's death metal," or "That's black metal," or "That's smash metal." And you know...whatever, it's metal.

The Dude: I take the zen approach myself. "Is it good? Yeah? Ok."

Rob Zombie: I just like movies, not one particular kind or genre. In fact, movies that are harder to classify I like more. Clockwork Orange is a good example. Is it science fiction? You know what? Who cares?

The Dude: A lot of studios these days are releasing remakes, like The Fog for example. All these PG-13 rated, watered down for the kids, full of these theme park scares kind of film.

Rob Zombie: My opinion on this is influenced by the fact that I never go see these movies. to me, they're the equivalent of old teen thrillers that should be starring Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. that's what these films seem like to me. They're just not that violent or that vicious or that horrible or that intense. They're horror movies for the Hillary Duff generation. They don't want to be offensive, they just want everybody to be good looking. The scenes are mostly a loud noise where somebody jumps out. That's not scary, that's startling. Somebody said with Devil's Rejects "It wasn't scary, I didn't jump once." What's with equating jumping to being scared? So, I don't see those movies. They don't interest me. They're Disney horror.

The Dude: HA! You made my day with that.

Rob Zombie: The good thing about the remake craze is that maybe some younger kids will see it and want to see the older, other better stuff.

The Dude: That's always my hope. They'll go back and see the originals.

Rob Zombie: Back in the day, I remember there WAS horror for kids. Stuff like Escape from Witch Mountain, stuff like that.

The Dude: Off topic now, I read in a previous interview that you were near the tail end of your music career and wanted to focus on movies. Is there any truth to that?

Rob Zombie: Well, at that point in time with that interview, I had worked on Rejects nonstop for almost a year, so that was all I could see. I'm actually just finishing up an album that should be out around March, and then I'll probably start another movie. For the moment, I'm still flip flopping between the two.

The Dude: That's good news.

Rob Zombie: It's difficult to do both, but I continue to try.

The Dude: What are you looking for with your next film? Similar genre? Branch out?

Rob Zombie: I'm not too sure what I'm gonna do. I'm working on a couple of ideas of my own, and I'm constantly being bombarded by scripts from other places. I can't figure it out yet.

The Dude: I think you'd make a really kick ass version of "Where the Wild Things Are" if you wanted to switch gears a bit and make a family film.

Rob Zombie: Yeah that would be a good movie. I'm surprised it hasn't been made yet. I'm sure it's in development somewhere, though.

(A brief check after the interview revealed that Spike Jonze was recently involved in the film's development. I still contend that Rob Zombie would make it fantastic. I'm just sayin...)

The Dude: I have some questions from some of our readers that I would like to ask you. Keep in mind I'm reading them as they were given to me. do you believe that messages in music videos, movies, or video games can encourage children to act violently?

Rob Zombie: (Long Pause) No. I think that any child that's going to do something violent is coming from a different place. That's kind of an ill-adjusted child. I mean, I think that anything can influence a child. When I was a kid I saw Evel Knievel, and what was the first thing I wanted to do? Jump my bike over something. Sure, kids are influenced by everything they see, but they need to be influenced by their parents. So if your child is more influenced by watching "Resident Evil", then yeah, you're a pretty shitty parent.

The Dude: I agree wholeheartedly.

Rob Zombie: here's the thing, too. I think what it comes down to is movies are rated R. they're not FOR children. So I can't take responsibility if you're not paying attention to what your kid is watching. It's not my fucking fault.

The Dude: Well said.

Rob Zombie: that's why I have to go through all the hell with the MPAA. i did my part, now you do your fuckin job.

The Dude: My question here, did you have a lot of problems on Rejects with the MPAA? I know Corpses had it's troubles.

Rob Zombie: Yeah. Always. It's always difficult. Lots of little things get cut. It's always a song and dance. It's crazy, but it gets done somehow.

The Dude: Ok, next reader question. Is it difficult to get actors to perform the characters you create in the way you envisioned them

Rob Zombie: Ummm... not really. The main way you make it come to life is in the casting. You have to cast the right person. If you cast the wrong person, then of course it would be incredibly difficult to get them to do what you want. But the luxury I have by being both writer and the director is I have a pretty solid idea of what I want. So when I see that person, I know what I want. It works out perfectly. There was no one in this movie who didn't create what I was looking for, down to the smallest role. It's all in the casting.

The Dude: Rejects has some incredible casting. People I haven't seen in forever. Like the guy from the Hills Have Eyes. (Michael Berryman)

Rob Zombie: Yeah, I don't think I'd seen him in anything recently. He was great to work with.

The Dude: The chicken fucker scene is quite hilarious.

Rob Zombie: He's a really funny guy.

The Dude: That reminds me, I felt that the comedy scenes in the movie were well done, a nice contrast to everything that we've seen. Like the scene with Forsythe and the movie critic.

Rob Zombie: Those guys were funny together.

The Dude: I love how the movie takes the time out to show us these scenes.

Rob Zombie: Well I thought if the movie didn't have scenes like that, the movie could be almost unwatchable. Because the movie becomes so bleak. It's like anything, you need to create a flow. In order for the darker scenes to work you need to lighten a few scenes here and there. Otherwise it becomes too aggressive.

The Dude: Yeah. Well, you also manage to whip up some empathy for the family. You get to the end, and you;re rooting for these characters when you realize...

Rob Zombie: ...that these are completely worthless people. (Laughter between us). Okay let's keep moving here.

The Dude: Another reader question. (Big sigh from me). How do you like your steaks cooked?

Rob Zombie: I don't eat meat, I wouldn't know.

The Dude: Excellent fucking answer. Okay, next reader question. Is there a reason why the Firefly family was named after characters from Marx brothers movies?

Rob Zombie: As a kid growing up in the 70s, the Marx brothers movies were very popular and always on TV. With this in mind, and with setting the film in this time period, I thought that the characters, since they're criminals and would use aliases, would take their names from something like that. Captain Spaulding being the leader would love that. It's just something something simple I thought the characters would do.

The Dude: Another reader question. Do you find any inspiration for your movies from your music?

Rob Zombie: Umm.. no. That's a weird question. It's all coming from the same place, from inside my head. I don't listen to my music and think "Oh, I have an idea." If anything it's the exact opposite. I'll hear a song, like the ones heard in the movie, and take inspiration from that.

The Dude: Last reader question. If you could remake any horror movie which would it be and why?

Rob Zombie: I don't see the point in remakes. I think if you're going to remake a film it should be something that was a good idea, but wasn't executed well. I get asked this question all the time, not just from interviews, but also from studio people. There isn't anything I would like to remake. Not to say that I wouldn't do it some day in the future, but I have too many of my own ideas I want to make. And you know, no matter how successful the remake is, it seems to me it's forgotten quickly after and it's the original that still lives on.

The Dude: Excellent. I have one more question for you, this one is my own, to close us out. Who does inspire you? Artists, authors, filmmakers, etc.

Rob Zombie: As far as filmmakers go, well, for a film like Rejects it was directors like Scorsese, with Taxi Driver of course. Sam Peckinpah, and all his westerns. Arthur Penn and Don Siegel. People who made violent movies in the 70s were my inspiration.

The Dude: Are there any artists out there who you can't wait to hear their album or read their book, something along those lines?

Rob Zombie: I really don't have too much time to read, so I hardly ever read anything. As far as music goes, the only person who makes a record that I have to run out and get instantly is Tom Waits. But that's it. It's not that I don't buy other records, it's just that's the only one I'll pick up immediately.

The Dude: I love the new album.

Rob Zombie: Yeah. It's very strange.

The Dude: Well, that's Tom Waits. My favorite song of his is "What's He Building In There" from Mule Variations.

Rob Zombie: You know that song is good. It creates a movie in your head.

The Dude: That's awesome. Well, thank you for your time Rob.

Rob Zombie: Thank you, dude.

And there it is. Upon hanging up, I had thought of about fifteen more things to bring up to him, such as the aforementioned third films that work. But I forgot to ask him how he felt about Devil's Rejects taking the record for the most amount of times the word "Fuck" is used in a movie. i also thought it would be a funny closer if I asked Rob Zombie for some advice with my love life, mainly because I could do something awesome and claim it's all because of Rob Zombie. Alas, I'll save them for another time. Regardless, I had a great time talking with Rob Zombie, and look forward to more of his work so I can ask him these great things. Thanks again for your time, Rob. Sorry I was a babbling idiot at points.

So that's this interview kids. Stay tuned, for in the very near future, we'll have some interviews with some other people who make movies, including the long awaited John McNaughton interview. Until then, Dude out.


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