My left eyeball is hiding underneath my tongue, my ribs have inverted themselves, and less than half of my lower intestine is hanging out the leg of my shorts. And they say Hell isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I saw a plate of ribs and, tired of stale concession confections, dove in. The rancid meat turned me a nice shade of purple. Satan’s Playground hates my bones. The Ghost of River Phoenix, though? He’s treated like a monarch here, as are all past celebrities. Most of which have wound up in this flaming sandbox. I even saw George and Gracie kicking it King Kobra style by the pool late yesterday afternoon.
The Riv's allowed into all the finest bars. Being his close, personal purgatory pal, those demons often let me follow suite. Last Benewah, which would be Wednesday to you, we happened to find ourselves in Crème’s, a quaint Jewish Deli that only serves up the finest kosher sandwiches alongside everyone’s favorite "He'Brew" Malt Liquor. Enjoying a couple of Cantaloupe flavored Snapples, now only available in Hades, I happened to notice Rob Zombie sitting alone in a booth. I was still a little curious as to why there never was a House of 1000 Corpses Unrated DVD. So, I slid over to his seat and decided to dispel some of the myths myself, like, “Is Corpses a thinly veiled remake of Dan Aykroyd's Nothing But Trouble?”
Quite the personable guy, Rob welcomed me to his table…
OI: Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt your lunch.
RZ: Oh, no...I was just on a call.
OI: What do you find appealing about Hell?
RZ: About Hell? I don’t know. Growing up as a kid, there were so many people that I disliked, I daydreamed about hurting them. Hell just seemed like a good place for all of them to go. Unfortunately, I don’t believe it exists.
OI: You don’t believe in God, either?
RZ: That story needs a little more evidence. (Laughs)
OI: Do you have a personal fear of Doctors? Or is that a universal phobia you’re tapping into?
RZ: I don’t really have a fear of doctors, in the sense that they’re going to do something bad to me. I don’t have a fear of them eating me, or a fear of needles, or anything like that. I have a fear that I’m feeling completely fine, everything’s good, and then when I go there, he’s going to tell me something horrible.
OI: Is that at all what your movie represents?
RZ: No. That’s just my own personal feelings.
OI: I was never sure if you were going for some type of underlying subtext with House of 1000 Corpses.
RZ: Not as far as the medical profession is concerned. The only underlying subtext was when we finally see Dr. Satan, and there are those three other people waiting to be treated, we made sure to put all really boring, outdated magazines in the waiting room. That’s my biggest fear of doctors.
OI: Did you mention that in the audio commentary?
RZ: I don’t know. I don’t remember what I said in the audio commentary. I did it, then I left, and I never listened to it again.
OI: I got through half of it last night, but didn’t finish it.
RZ: I don’t know what the Hell I said.
OI: It’s twenty years from now; Jerry Bruckheimer and the Ghost of Don Simpson come to you and say, "We want to remake House for the kiddies." What is your response?
RZ: Go for it, dude (laughs).
OI: Are you in favor of the Texas Chainsaw remake?
RZ: I think it’s a horrible idea. A terrible idea. I’ve got several feelings on remakes. Here it is, basically: I think remakes obviously work. They remade all the classic Universal Monster films. Hammer did. Those are great films. If they hadn’t remade Frankenstein and Dracula, there would be no great Christopher Lee-Peter Cushing team-ups that we all love. Remakes can work. I think in some cases, it is a little weird. With something like Psycho or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, they sort of have a perfect film unto themselves, and I really don’t see any reason to remake them other than, "Hey, we can do it in color!"
OI: Are you friends with Tobe Hooper?
OI: How does he feel about Texas Chainsaw being remade?
RZ: I’ve never really talked to him about it. I think he probably...I don’t really know...I've always sort of veered off the subject for fear...I don’t want to get him going. I don’t really know how he feels about it. I’m sure he probably feels like, "I hope I’m going to make some more money."
OI: I know the one question you’ve probably been asked a lot is: What happened to the uncensored version of House of 1000 Corpses going to DVD?
RZ: Well, it never really existed. It did in a sense. What a lot of people don’t understand is, when you send a movie to the MPAA for a rating, a lot of times the movie’s not really finished. You’ll send them a VHS, or something. It’s not like you have a big finished movie. So, the uncut version did not have any sound effects. It didn’t have any music. It didn’t have any synchs. We then cut it to get the R, and we did a polished version to that. So, to go back and assemble an uncut version would take some work. I just haven’t had time to do that due to working on the next movie. I didn’t want to do one of those uncut versions that’s sort of a rip-off, where you buy it, and it’s the theatrical release, and all the extra stuff is just tacked on to the end. I wanted to actually cut it back into the body of the film and remix it. I wanted to do a nice thing of it, actually. I just haven’t had time.
OI: So, you are going back and doing that at some point?
RZ: It’s always a plan. It’s something I defiantly want to do, I just don’t know when.
OI: I guess this is rumor, then. I’ve heard that the uncut version is a completely different film than what you envisioned.
RZ: I don’t know why that is. It’s nice that everybody is interested and talking about it, but people say the craziest stuff.
OI: Yeah, that’s why I was wondering about it. I’ve never heard you talk about it personally.
RZ: I don’t know what it is. Now, I can go back and do whatever it is I want, if it’s uncut. It will even be different than the version that got an NC-17 the first go-around with the MPAA. At that point, I was making cuts trying to get an R rating. I’ve never sat down and done a version where I could do whatever I wanted. I never had that luxury.
OI: But now you do.
RZ: Right. I just don’t have the time.
OI: Are you working on the second film as we speak?
OI: Can you tell me anything about that?
RZ: Without giving anything away, no. The main thing I can tell you is that it’s not a retread of the first movie. It’s a completely different film with the surviving characters. They go off and do something different. It’s a grittier, more realistic, darker movie. My biggest fear with all horror sequels is that your villains become goofy, lovable caricatures.
OI: Did you get a chance to see Jason vs. Freddy?
RZ: No, I didn’t yet.
OI: Were you excited about that at all? Or is that something you’re not interested in?
RZ: I’ll probably see it, but I wasn’t that excited about it. I wasn’t really that big a fan of the other ten sequels. How ever many there were. I thought the first Nightmare on Elm Street was a good movie. And I thought the first Friday the 13th was, you know...I remember as a kid, when it came out, it was sort of fun. A cheap exploitation film. I haven’t really been following the detailed exploits of either character for the past sixteen years.
OI: Do you feel that some of the press concerning the two studios dropping House of 1000 Corpses added a William Castle-type hype to the film?
RZ: It was a little of both. All of that was a double-edged sword in some ways. Hype is always good, but sometimes it works against you. The Internet feeds into this a lot. I would be reading quotes from myself that were things I never said. Like, "Oh, great!" Rob says, "It's going to reinvent horror." I never said that. Who’d say such a thing?
OI: I bought into some of that hype myself.
RZ: All I ever said was that we made a cool, weird little horror movie. That’s how I always thought of it. I never thought I reinvented the wheel.
OI: People’s expectations were a little high when they finally saw the movie?
RZ: Yeah, because they hyped themselves up. I think a lot of what fed into it was DVD. These people don’t understand. They’ve been watching unrated Dawn of the Dead, unrated Hellraiser...Everything unrated. Then they go see an R rated film, and say, "Man, it wasn’t as gory as I thought." I know it’s not, because it’s an R rated movie. Compared to the unrated version of Dawn of the Dead, there’s not an ounce of blood. People forget.
OI: I have your script here. I got it off the Internet. Does that bother you?
RZ: That does bother me, too. I’m not sure what version it is.
OI: I could tell you; it’s on the front here.
RZ: I don’t really care.
OI: This says: Revised 03-31-00.
RZ: A lot of it is probably wrong. Towards the end, I never assembled a full script. We had a script, I’m not sure if that’s the version you have. But when we were continuing the shoot, I was handing the actors the pages as we went along.
OI: You were changing a lot of stuff on the fly?
RZ: Here and there, yeah. You get in there and sometimes you see things a different way.
OI: Were you unhappy working on the Universal Lot? I know you talked about that on the DVD commentary.
RZ: Actually, working on the back lot was two things. It was amazing to be there. I loved being there because it felt like, "Wow, making movies!" You know? It has such a history. But at the same time, it is a theme park. And they treat it as such. There’s a lot of noise that gets in there and ruins your takes. Then the tram goes by and stops. It’s kind of a pain in the ass.
OI: do you think you’ll work with Universal again?
RZ: Maybe. That’s the thing. I don’t have any hard feeling towards Universal. Whatever happened happened. The thing I always say is; they were very cool with me. They could have taken the film and just locked it in their vaults and said, "See you later."
OI: But they let you go with it?
RZ: And find another distributor. At the end of the day, the film wouldn’t exist without them. I have no bad feeling about that.
OI: Do you think you’re going to do another Halloween show?
RZ: They don’t do that anymore over there.
OI: You don’t have any thoughts of taking it somewhere else?
RZ: I don’t know. This Halloween I’m going to be so deep in the film, I won’t have a chance.
OI: Are you going to be shooting Part 2 in October?
RZ: Well, if we’re not already shooting, we’ll be so deep in pre-production; there won’t be any time for Halloween fun this year.
OI: Going back to the film itself, and some of the other movies it pays tribute too, how important do you think the dinner scene is, and why did you feel you needed to included that in House of 1000 Corpses?
RZ: Hmm? I wasn’t really thinking...The film's kind of funny, because there's a lot of stuff in there that people think I’m paying tribute to that I don’t know about. Not that I don’t know the films. People will mention something, and I go, "It never even crossed my mind."
OI: Well, I’ve noticed in quite a few films that the killers will take their prey and set them down and have dinner.
RZ: I think one of the biggest influences on the film is a movie that no one ever mentions.
OI: Is it Nothing But Trouble?
RZ: No, actually, but that’s funny. It’s Rocky Horror Picture Show. They say, "Oh, I see the obvious Motel Hell!" And I’m like, "Motel Hell? What?? Or, because a lot of people don’t know too much about horror, they’ll say something stupid like, "Oh, that Hershel Gordon Lewis stuff!" I don’t see it. I don’t see it at all.
OI: Well, I was going to ask you about Dan Aykroyd’s Nothing But Trouble. Your film is very similar. You’ve seen that movie, right?
RZ: I’ve seen pieces of it. I’ve never seen the whole film. That’s defiantly a new one.
OI: Well, you have incredible art direction in your movie. I love the look of your film. That movie, Nothing But Trouble, is kind of a bad movie, but it has outstanding art direction. I see some similar lines between the two?
RZ: That’s funny. I’ll have to watch that movie now.
OI: Why was it important for you to have that dinner scene in your film?
RZ: I don’t know. It was part of the whole thing; their celebration of Halloween Eve. It’s sort of that, "You’ve arrived on a rather special night."
OI: When you were growing up, was it a common occurrence that when Halloween fell on school night, you’d go Trick or Treating on the weekend? Where I’m from, we just didn’t do that.
RZ: Really? That was a thing with us. We would never ever Trick or Treat on fucking Halloween. Unless it was on a Saturday, or something. They’d always move it around.
OI: Where are you from, originally?
RZ: Massachusetts. Yeah, that was a common thing. I hardly remember it ever falling on the right day.
OI: Do you know who Harmony Korine is?
OI: He stated that his esthetic is, "A piece of bacon taped to the bathroom wall."
OI: What is your esthetic in film making?
RZ: Bacon taped to the bathroom wall? That’s interesting...I don’t know. That’s a good question. I don’t have a good answer for it.
OI: I hope my questions aren’t too stupid for you.
RZ: No. That’s just a question that needs a real answer, and I’ve never thought of it that way before.
OI: This goes back to the dinner aspect of the movie, if you could sit down and have dinner with any infamous serial killer, who would it be and why?
RZ: Well, Dr. Satan’s not really a serial killer, per say?
OI: I’m talking about going back to the beginning, with Fische and Ed Gein…
RZ: I think one of the most interesting people to interview would be John Wayne Gacy. A lot of these other guys...Ed Gein is a hick...
OI: You’ve seen some of the tapes of him, right?
RZ: Yeah, and I don’t think he’d be a very interesting interview. But Gacy is so well spoken. And he was so flawlessly laid out. That would really be where you’d get your details.
OI: Have you seen any of those movies that came out? I know there’s Gacy, then Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein...
RZ: Ed Gein was the only one I saw.
OI: Did you like that movie, or did you think it was kind of cheesy?
RZ: Well, it was funny, because the movie was shot at the first location we went to, that we were possible going to use as the house for our movie. I lost focus on the movie because I kept staring at that. We didn’t shoot there because the house was too cramped and tiny. And I never really saw the whole movie because I was on a tour bus, on tour. I was watching it, and I left my DVD in the DVD player.
OI: You just left it on the bus?
RZ: I still have the empty case. I only saw about twenty minutes of it. I do like Steve Railsback.
OI: Yeah, he’s a great actor. Are you going to be doing any new music, or is it strictly music for the next movie?
RZ: I don’t even know if I’ll do music for the next movie. I don’t know. Part of the reason I did music for this movie was to raise money.
OI: Through the soundtrack?
RZ: Yeah. If I did songs, I got more money. Then I took that money to pay for other things to finish the film. I was practically having a yard sale.
OI: Did you sell a lot of the props, or did you keep that stuff?
RZ: I kept everything.
OI: Was a lot of that stuff yours to begin with?
RZ: No. There were a few things here and there. For the most part, it was all creative.
OI: I noticed the big Creature from the Black Lagoon poster hanging in the background of one of the shots. That wasn’t yours?
RZ: No, that was just something we made. We blew it up and pasted it to the wall. That just went in the garbage.
OI: I listened to the part of the commentary where you say you didn’t want to put yourself in front of the camera as Dr. Wolfenstein. Why didn’t you feel the need to put yourself in front of the camera, like a lot of directors do?
RZ: I think it’s fine. I love seeing Scorsese in his films. I think it’s really funny. I think a lot of directors have a look that’s easier to hide within a film. I didn’t want to be in the film, like, "Hey, there’s Rob doing Bats!" If I could have been hidden for fun, maybe. Once I was there, I couldn’t imagine how Woody Allen functions. Both sides of the camera are just so crazy.
OI: How was your attitude on set most of the time? Were you happy with what was going on, or were you pretty stressed out?
RZ: Totally stressed out, because I had a lot of problems with things. I kept it hidden. My big thing was protecting the actors. Keeping them happy, because I think they were doing a wonderful job. I wanted them to stay focused. Whenever there were problems, I’d never let them know. I told them once we wrapped, and they were like, "Oh, my God! All that was going on? I had no idea." I find that people work harder when they’re happy. You can’t start yelling and screaming at them.
OI: Where you pretty easy with letting them improvise on set?
RZ: Well, yes and no. No one really improvised. If someone had an idea, I was all for it. Then I’d incorporate it in. It wasn’t like, "Hey, go nuts!" Because, some actors can do it and some can’t. You can’t have one actor that’s really good at improvising going crazy, and the other actor’s standing there going, "I don’t know what to do now. I’ve learned my lines, and now he’s not saying them." There were certain things. Everyone did to a point, that’s why you hire them. I always felt the worst thing you could do was hire someone, and not let them do it. Especially someone like Sid. He probably did the most. Not improvising. If he had an idea, I’d let him ham it up a little bit. The biggest thing I didn’t want to do, which is something I hear them complaining about with first time directors, is that you don’t want to over-direct. You know, taking every word out of their mouth and going, "No, do it like this! No, hold it like this! Move like this!" Because, then, they just get all freaked out and uptight.
OI: Were you a fan of Bill Mosley’s music as well as his acting before this project?
RZ: I hadn’t really heard it until after. I met Bill by accident before I made the movie. I think it was while I was writing the script. I liked him so much as a person, I wrote the part for him and stuck him in the movie. But I didn’t know about the Cornbug thing until afterwards.
OI: Do you feel it’s important to have a female protagonist that always survives in a horror film? I’ve noticed that theme in a lot of horror movies.
RZ: I don’t think it’s important, and I don’t think that she’s alive, either.
OI: You think she’s dreaming?
RZ: She’s out of her mind. She’s insane.
OI: I remember you talking about that at the end of the commentary.
RZ: I kind of left it hanging so people wouldn’t know. I actually like the idea of everyone dying.
OI: That’s what I love in a movie, when the situation is impossible, and everybody dies.
RZ: Yeah, but that makes people think there is no hope. What am I watching? But, on the other hand, that’s what makes it horrible to watch. The no hope thing. Universal sort of had some problems with that. "Shouldn't someone escape? Shouldn’t someone do this or that?? You know? It feels so fake when someone suddenly turns the tables.
OI: Have you been watching any of the new Japanese Horror Movies?
OI: Which one is your favorite?
RZ: So far, probably Audition.
OI: I haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch that one yet. Have you seen Ichi the Killer?
RZ: No, I haven’t, yet. Someone got me a copy of it, but I don’t have an All Region DVD player. I haven’t seen that many. I should really get on that.
OI: Well, I better wrap it up here. It was great talking to you; it was really nice of you.
RZ: Sure, no sweat.
OI: Good luck with the second one. I’ll talk to you later.
RZ: Okay, bye...
And with that, I headed back over to my booth in Hell and finished having lunch with the Ghost of River Phoenix. That Rob Zombie sure is a nice guy. I’m really looking forward to seeing his sequel. I honestly hope it rules ass. As for the uncensored version of Corpses, I can wait. I think the film, as an R rated entity, stands on its own. If you haven’t seen it yet, get down to the rental store and check it out. Either that, or snag Nothing But Trouble. Both are worth the effort for art direction and set design alone...
Hmm. An imp just handed my tickets to Dickie Roberts...This really is Hell...
Dont't forget to also check out: House Of 1000 Corpses