I had the chance to attend the press event for Rob Zombie’s newest film, Halloween II, and, while they made it expressly clear that the print of the film that we viewed was not a reviewable copy (bullshit), I was lucky enough to participate in a roundtable interview with the people responsible. So, while my specific thoughts on the film in any reviewable format are not an option, the land of press relations can sometimes be a fruitful one, and Mr. Zombie was candid enough to give us insight into the continuously depressing state of film production, information about a possible, upcoming project, and confirmation that there is indeed a 2nd cut of the film. So, enjoy the interview, and, if you’re a fan, be sure to check out Halloween II this Friday.
What’s the fun in horror movies? What’s it all about?
ROB ZOMBIE: That’s funny. That’s the same question that they just asked me in the other room, and I didn’t really have a good answer. For me, it’s just movies, period. Not just horror movies. I just like dark, violent material.
ZOMBIE: I don’t know why. It’s funny because I’m writing this thing about A Clockwork Orange for the DGA magazine, and, while doing some research, I realized that Roger Ebert gave it a horrible review back in 1972, and every reason that he gave for hating it is exactly why I like it.
[Laughter] Hard childhood?
ZOMBIE: I don’t know, I guess. Everybody’s life is weird and fucked up, so you like to see things that are weird and fucked up, I guess.
What was the first movie to scare you as a kid?
ZOMBIE: I think probably the scariest thing, as weird as it sounds, was The Wizard of Oz and the flying monkeys with the witch. I remember seeing that – it STILL seems freaky. That was fucked up.
Willy Wonka scared the shit out of me.
ZOMBIE: Yeah, that too. Even then, you would watch something like Frankenstein, and it wouldn’t even seem scary, but The Wizard of Oz was a fucking freak show, man.
Obviously, you had quite a time restraint to get this movie into theatres this week, so I hope it didn’t compromise what you wanted to do. Is the movie that is coming out in theatres what you set out to do? Will there be a longer, director’s cut?
Because I know that there is tons of material that didn’t make it into the movie.
ZOMBIE: Except for The Devil’s Rejects I feel that everything has been compromised in some way by scheduling, because it was the only movie that I ever worked on that had no release date. We worked on it until we got it right (or at least until we thought that we got it right.) I looked it at it and said, “there is nothing left that I want to change. There is nothing left that I want to do.” Whereas I have never had that luxury since, I’m not sure what would be different, but editing is a crucial time, and, when you get rushed through that process, you are never sure that you got exactly the perfect take of every actor – the perfect moment, because there is so much footage to go through.
I mean, you do your best to do it with the time you have, but, in regards to the director’s cut, there is another version of the movie that is very different that will probably be the “director’s cut.” There were two ways that we could have cut the movie. The difference really lies in Laurie’s character. In the theatrical, she is sort of holding it together, and she begins to spiral downward, but in the other version she’s an incredible mess and gets worse. I mean, she never has any good moments. She is horrible, messed up on drugs, and completely spun out through the whole movie, which makes for a really challenging movie to watch, and I feel like fans wouldn’t have embraced so much darkness.
** Spoiler warning**
Is there still a white horse motif in that version?
ZOMBIE: Yeah, everything in that version is the same except for her scenes. Her relationship with Annie is horrible, and they are at each other’s throats throughout the entire movie, which they weren’t in the theatrical.
Could you talk about the inspiration for the white horse?
ZOMBIE: The white horse thing was me trying to find some significant thing that would be a through line… It really could have been anything. It isn’t like that is so significant, but it’s a minor event in young Michael’s life that he has stuck in his brain that I can then tie through to Laurie. The white horse is such a great, visual image, and when I started researching the meaning of dreams (but that seems like a bunch of bullshit to me), they all had a lot of significance with the white horse, so it just seemed like the perfect, childlike image to carry through.
** End spoiler**
This movie seems to be more your style, so how did the two differ for you?
ZOMBIE: This film to me is more of a logical follow-up to The Devil’s Rejects, where Halloween felt like a weird sidestep that, I think because it was someone else’s material, kind of messed with me. I made the first half of the movie my thing and the second half, I felt, I should bring in more John Carpenter beats because that’s what people are going to be expecting, but, as soon as I started doing that, I don’t think I had quite the same enthusiasm for the film that I did when it was new stuff. That’s why, with this movie, I tried to flip all of them [them characters] upside down and make them my characters.
ZOMBIE: [After explaining that he doesn't see many scary movies in theatres] It gets weird because I really want to go to Eli’s movies to support Eli. Saw – I saw the first one but haven’t seen the other ones. It’s not my type of thing. Even if they are awesome, it’s just not my type of thing.
His thoughts on labels such as “torture porn:”
ZOMBIE: I’m definitely of the mindset of “I wouldn’t want to be part of any group that would have me as a member.” If there is one thing that, as a director, you don’t want to be a part of, it’s a group. It’s the same thing with music. I don’t want to be a part of a scene. Just leave me alone. It’s just my nature, and it’s nothing against the people that are in that group, but I just like to be left alone.
Is Tyrannosaurus Rex really about a dinosaur?
ZOMBIE: No, actually it’s not at all. It’s actually a boxing movie. It’s about this guy who’s name is Rex, and his nickname is Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s about this washed up prize fighter who goes to prison for assaulting these guys in a bar because he’s got this born to lose personality. By the time he gets out of prison, he is too old to box, so he gets caught up in underground fighting and is so filled with rage that he can’t control himself in normal society. So that’s pretty dark. That might be my next movie.
Would you hope that this would go back to, as you said about The Devil’s Rejects, giving you the freedom to take your time [in producing it]?
ZOMBIE: I will not make another movie under these circumstances. When you lock a movie’s release date and then movie it two months, it’s just not good. It’s good for everything but the cast, crew, and people who are creatively trying to make a film. Post is the part that can make or break a film. With Devil’s Rejects, we didn’t have reshoots [it had a low budget], but we had the time to craft it. Luckily, I always use the same editor, and he immediately gravitates toward the takes that I like. The problem is that nobody makes movies anymore – they make schedules and they make budgets.