Getting the scoop from Captain Spaulding and his pimp associate, Charlie on The Devil's Rejects
When you hear the name Rob Zombie, you probably think of the heavy metal music. Yes, he started the rock group White Zombie in the 1980's, and then went on to a very successful solo career.
In 2003, he wrote and directed his first feature film House of 1000 Corpes. He legitimately became a double threat in the entertainment business. The hard part is coming now - continue that success with his second film The Devil's Rejects.
And he does a very good job. It's not the horror movie that 'House' was; there's more gore and even some humor thrown in as well.
Rob is a very straight forward kind of guy - he tells it like it is, so when we spoke, he said what was on his mind.
There are parts in this interview that are a bit vulgar so that's just a little warning. Here's what he had to say:
Was the film critic scene intentional? Should we feel offended by that?
Rob Zombie: Yes you should! (laughter) No, that's my ode to Gene Shalit. That was sort of unintentional in a way. Once we got him all done up, you know, cause he was just a day player, he looked like Gene Shalit sort of by accident, but anyway.
The two screenings I went to, it was filled with critics and everyone was cracking up during that scene.
Rob Zombie: Yeah, he's funny, so you know.
So when I was asking your wife [Sheri] about your love of horror, she was saying about your love of cinema in general. Do you want people to see you as that because obviously your first two films are? What are your aspirations in film making and talk about why you decided to start off with horror?
Rob Zombie: I love all of movies. I mean, horror is a passion than more of the others. You know, I love westerns as much as I love horror. I love classic comedies. When it came time to make the first film [House of 1000 Corpses, that was just where my head was at and I had the idea. Of course, this [The Devils Rejects] is sort of related to that film, so it also is. With that said, I didn't want to make another horror movie straight away, so that's why as much as I could get away with, I tried to make a different movie with more flavor like an Italian western or a 70's road movie and not just a straight up horror movie. So I didn't want them to think I was just jumpin' through the same hoops again.
What do you think it's going to take to get a studio to let you go out and make a comedy?
Rob Zombie: It's going to take a profit, I would say. You know, money talks. You make a profit and everyone's happy.
And is that your inspiration?
Rob Zombie: If it was something I wanted to do. I've got two scripts I'm writing now. One is like a very dark comedy. I'm not looking to jump in and make super main stream movies. I still like to make movies that I like to see. Like doing this to make giant –
(interruption): Like ‘On the Road with Otis and Baby'
Rob Zombie: Exactly, ‘Otis and Baby go to Morrocco'
So what was it like to do this second movie?
Rob Zombie: Doing the second movie was fantastic because the first movie was trial by fire. Nobody knows what it's like to make a movie until you're in that situation. Making a movie, you know, it is insane. You can read all you want about it watch all the things about it and learn what you can learn, but until it's actually happening, you don't realize how insane it is. Making this film and having the knowledge of the first film was great. I had a much stronger grasp of how everything was going to go down.
Speaking about endeavoring to make a different kind of horror film, the past few years there have been a lot of zombie movies, a lot of Japanese adaptations with screaming little girls; are all those kind of movies getting played out?
Rob Zombie: I think so; I think things get played out, you know, there's the genuine first wave of inspiration then it just becomes beating a dead horse and it's time to go somewhere else. And I think it's time; it was neat to see some remakes, but enough, I'm sick of remakes, how about something different. You know, that's the thing – people always come to me and are like ‘what do you want to remake, what do you want to remake, we know we can get that greenlight, what do you want to make?' I don't want to remake a g-d damn f*cking think. Because they always mention certain movies and these movies are great to begin with. I don't need to see another, I'll just watch the original. So I'm not a big fan of remakes. And even if they are good, they're still not as good as the original, so what's the point?
What do you think of the revival of horror films, from yours to others, do you think it reflects on the times today?
Rob Zombie: I don't know. People would always say horror movies always thrive during times of war; that's just what people would say. And I don't know if they thrived during World War II or Vietnam, but I thought that's kind of strange, why would that happen. And I didn't really realize it until, this sounds horrible to say, but we were having a lot of problems with ‘Corpses' being released, getting a distributor, and all that stuff, and when 9/11 happened, the next day, no one cared about this horrible movie we can't put out didn't seem so bad anymore. You know, I think we have bigger things to worry about than this horror movie. And then from there on out, it was smooth sailing. I don't know if people just rearranged their priorities; in good times, they freak out and start pointing the fingers at video games and tv, but when horrible things are happening in the world, it just seems a little ridiculous.
Some of the ‘60's and ‘70's movies, things like "Bonnie and Clyde" are extremely political, is this in some place that I'm missing political?
Rob Zombie: Probably not, cause I'm not extremely political. No, no it's not. And even if it was, I wouldn't say it was because I don't like anyone telling me anything and I don't want to tell anyone anything. I think it should be layed out and you can make your own conclusions. As soon as I feel I'm being taught something or preached something, I just glaze over it and I don't want to hear it.
The soundtrack on this movie is from the country songs to the rock songs. Your choice obviously, but where are you in there? Where are you on the soundtrack?
Rob Zombie: Oh, I'm no where. I didn't want to be in there on the music on any level. And I wouldn't have been on the first one; I only did that out of necessity cause I knew if I put my songs on the soundtrack, I could get more money for the soundtrack and I could get more money to put back into the film, so that was just out of desperation. But on this one, I didn't think it made any sense, because it's a period movie and you had to be 100% pure to the time period. When I was scoring the picture, I hired a great composer, Tyler Bates, and I worked with him and told him what I wanted and we worked with him and collaborated. But the best thing you need to do is find talented people, you get out of their way and you let them do their job. And that's what the actors were happy for too; so many times they get on these movies, especially William Forsythe and they feel like their being micro managed, they're like ‘why did you hire me? You're not letting me do anything I do.' And they always say that's the mark of an inexperienced director. They nit pick someone's performance, they're like ‘say the line exactly like this…no, exactly like this!' They should have hired another actor, or cast yourself if you're so great. So, I'm way off on a tangent, sorry.
Everyone's saying the ice cream scene is the point in the movie where we feel some kind of sympathy, because it's the family and then when they're being tortured.
Rob Zombie: Yeah, that had to be a pivotal moment. On the surface, it seems like a throw-away scene, like someone going through the script would go (makes an ‘x' on the table and whistles) ‘don't need that, that's all worthless.' But to me, I needed something; I didn't want to go into back story because they did this and they did that, they had a bad childhood – who cares, whatever, you know, it's not an A&E Special. But what I needed was a scene that everyone could relate to and I figured everyone could relate to the family car trip where dad won't stop the car and you're fighting with your brother or sister and that's why that scene became that. Cause I felt at that moment, I mean, you've just seen these people do horrible things, it seems like, it's amazing, every time I've watched a movie with an audience, they're disgusted, they hate Otis. And at that moment they seem to have amnesia to what they've just watched in the previous hour. ‘Oh, they're funny, they all like ice cream. I like ice cream, they must be just like me; I like Tutti Frutti' and it's just funny so that's really what that scene needed to accomplish.
Because at the end of the movie there is that concern.
Rob Zombie: Well, yeah. It's not like you're supposed to sympathize with them or feel bad for them, but I just wanted the conflict. I was screening it the other night and someone came up to me and said ‘I was crying at the end when the hero's were dying.' The hero's?! Crying for the hero's? But it f*ck's with people and I've always loved movies like that like Taxi Driver or A Clockwork Orange where at the end, you're like ‘I think I'm routing for the wrong person, what's going on here?' It's good, it gives you something to talk about.
On the set when you were doing the hotel scene, you told Bill Moseley that art's not supposed to be safe. Do you feel horror movies have gotten entirely too safe and has anything really come out film wise in the horror genre that has even been remotely close to pushing anything?
Rob Zombie: Um, going back to the first part of that, I do think things have gotten safe and a lot of times, I mean, going back to the first stuff that blew my mind in the ‘70's, you just never knew where these movies were going, like ‘I can't possibly believe they're doing that and they do and you're like ‘oh my g-d, Jesus Christ.' I remember watching and you would always be on guard like you wouldn't know what was going to happen. I remember when I was 18 and I saw ‘Texas Chainsaw,' you didn't know if she [Sally Hardesty] was going to live until the last frame of that movie. That movie was so – and now you do know; you know about that casting. They're not going to kill her cause she's the star, we want her for the sequel. It's so played out, you can see who's cast, it's totally predictable. And it's almost as if they want you to feel safe, they've started making everything PG-13, it feel safer cause they want you to bring the kids too. And they have turned horror movies into such a wimpy experience that it's unbelievable. And that's why I wanted to make a movie that's, it's mean spirited and sadistic. I screened it one night and some guy stood up at the Q & A and was like ‘why would you make this, this, this depraved piece of garbage, it's disgusting; what kind of person are you?' Great, good, whatever. He was one guy out of 300 people and the other 299 people were cheering for it and enjoying it because that's what the essence of that was. I just feel like that all went away; the ‘70's which is why I like it so much is because it was the last time corporate everything hadn't taken over music and movies and homogenized it. And I would say these horror movies felt like they were the equivalent of punk rock. You didn't go to the Staples Center with 18,000 other people to watch The Ramones, you would go to some sh*tty club on The Bowery and fear for your life to see this bizarre band that no one's ever heard of and that's why it was so special, that's why you would never forget it. And now, everything's been homogenized, so my goal is to come out feeling like ‘ugh, this depraved thing, disgusting.' But for the people who like that and enjoy it, people probably just like you cause you're smiling, that's what I was trying to give back. And as far as American films, I don't know if I'm really feeling that anymore because studios don't want to deal with that. And the movie I was going to say, it's not an American film.
Rob Zombie: Yeah, High Tension had that feeling, which is relentless and brutal; and Odishon had that and Irreversible where you were just like ‘Jesus Christ, I don't know if I'm going to get through this movie, this is a challenge to get through it. But it's a cool feeling. It's like watching Cannibal Holocaust, like how much are they going to put me through to get to the end of this movie. ‘I gotta watch it again now. Was it as bad as I thought it was the first time?' That's just what the experience was and I think for younger kids, they've never felt that feeling of being in the theater. Someone I was talking to who's from New York who said ‘I remember going to 42nd Street in the early ‘80's and going ‘I wonder what the f*ck, I wonder what Cannibal Holocaust is, I wonder what that movie is and wondering into the theater where this guy's getting a bl*w job in the back and drunks and prostitutes and watching Cannibal Holocaust and thinking ‘this couldn't get any sleazier, could it' but that was a great experience.
Are you at all afraid that the audience who was behind ‘House' may not dig the direction you go in ‘Devils Rejects' cause ‘House' was a bit more campier, it had a bit more of a commercial horror flavor to it, where this is just straight.
Rob Zombie: I can't really say, but so far we've had several screenings and the response has been very strong from those fans. And I've always thought if you liked that, you'll like this even more. Same characters, doing more, but it's a far superior film on every level so I never had that much fear. You know, you can't really have that much fear to do anything with that in the back of your mind. There's always that thing that if you do the same thing again, everyone goes, ‘he made the same f*ckin' movie again.' You do something different, they go ‘he made a different f*ckin' movie.' It's like you can't make everyone happy right away. And it's hard too, cause anyone who's a big fan of that movie has been living with the DVD for 3 years and has seen it a million times. Someone who goes and only watches something once; I think it takes some people…every time I make a record, it's the worst record and the last one's their favorite. Then you make another record and suddenly that one that they didn't like last year is their favorite and now this one, it's like, I don't know. It's insanity. It's like you can't figure out what people want you to do, you just have to do what you want to do and hope it works out.
You wrote this movie so you knew what was coming, but those two scenes, the one with Sheri and one with Bill where they just go ballistic and kill. Do you have to decompress after shooting those scenes? Cause it probably took a few days to shoot each scene.
Rob Zombie: No, I wish it did. The shooting was 29 days so every scene, like the raid on the house was one day. Seeing like the motel scene where Otis terrorizes Priscilla, we shot that by lunch time. I mean, we were like boom, boom, boom; I needed the cast to never f*ck up their lines and they almost never did, I didn't have time for it. I mean, they couldn't even leave the set, because I lit the set so we would never have to do lighting changes and I was like ‘don't go anywhere.' Like they'd start to walk off and I'd be like ‘we're ready, come on back. Don't think about going to the bathroom, get back on set.' Cause it really was boom, boom, boom. And also some of those scenes are very emotionally draining on the actors, especially that scene with Priscilla Barnes on her; and I don't know how you drag something like that out forever. I just feel like their best performances are going to be early on and then you're just beating a dead horse. I don't know why any director would be like ‘oh, this is take 60.' Cause I've always find first take may be rough, second take - getting it, third take - totally in the groove, they've locked it in. And anything after that, you're insecure if ‘I don't know if I got it, I don't know if I got it, let's do it again.' You just have to, you know, you sit there and ‘that was the one, it's not going to get better than that, in fact, it'll probably get worse,' cause you're burning out your actors. I mean they do burn out, they aren't machines. You can only ask a woman to stand there in her underwear and being violated and balling her eyes out for so long before either she just can't do it anymore or it's going to seem phony. No, I like shooting fast and I think that's what's good about a lot of the movies we were talking about; a lot of them were made fast and they felt very alive and there's a lot of energy. Now sometimes, you watch a movie, a hundred million dollar movie, and you sit there and there's no energy, it's just a flatness because ‘we took a week to shoot that scene.' And you're like ‘a week? It's a two-second scene, like how much did you suck the life out of it,' you know. I don't know, I just think restrictions and limitations make people move and think better and I don't know. I don't know how we would have made that scene in the motel if they said ‘we have three months to shoot it.' Like what do we do?
Did you get out of that groove once it was shot?
Rob Zombie: No, I actually didn't want to get out of that groove. And going back to that thing that Bill said about art not being safe, that's because Bill had come out of the room and was feeling really bad and I was like ‘buck it up soldier and get back in there. I don't want you to feel good and I don't want you to go back in there and try to crack a joke to break the tension; if Priscilla is feeling like sh*t, I want her to feel like sh*t because she's being really brilliant right now and I want her to stay there, so I never wanted to break the tension. You didn't want to, and William said something once too, he was probably the most intense thought wise as an actor on the set and he was like, ‘you can't just turn this off and on.' You get in that head space and you want to use it when they got it so I didn't want to take that lightly, so when the actors were in that groove, I didn't want to do anything to break them out of it. Cause it's like anything, as soon as it's lunch time, everyone goes to lunch, they chit chat, they eat and they come back and it always takes forever to get them back in the zone because they're all lazy from eating a burrito.
The film reunites Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and Sheri Moon Zombie (Rob's wife). The Devil's Rejects screams into theaters July 22nd; it's rated 'R.'
Below are some video interview with the cast of the film. Select a clip below to watch now!