Rob Zombie Talks "Great American Nightmare", "Lords of Salem" and "Broad Street Bullies"
Thu, 05 Sep 2013 16:55:17
Rob Zombie is taking over Southern California this October—October 10 through November 2 at the Pomona "Fearplex". It's 15 nights of terror from the 21st century's master of the macabre complete with a bevy of diverse and dynamic bands and rides based on the architect's classic films. It's everything Halloween should be in one place…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Rob Zombie gives us a tour of the Great American Nightmare, talks Lords of Salem, and gives a little update on Broad Street Bullies.
Great American Nightmare feels like the perfect way to enter every facet of your world.
It's everything put together at once. That's what I like about it. I've done all of these elements separately. I've done haunted attractions for Universal Studios. I've obviously done concerts. Now, it's all happening simultaneously in one location. It's going to be great.
Why did you choose Pomona?
Well, we had to start some place. I wanted to do just one setup to see how it goes. Then, maybe, take it to other cities next year. The Fairgrounds in Pomona are just perfect. It's a really big space that we can work with. It seemed liked the perfect layout for this year's event.
How closely do the mazes mirror their respective films?
They're pretty connected. I haven't seen the final mazes yet. The El Superbeasto one is really cool. That's very accurate to the movie. It's in 3D, and you go through it wearing 3D glasses. It's like you stepped into a crazy cartoon. The Haunt of 1,000 Corpses is a little different. It's more like an expansion of the whole attraction of "The Murder Ride". It's taking one element of the film and blowing it up. We're still working on The Lords of Salem maze. It's a little more surreal—as was the film itself. There are very accurate parts, and there are also parts where we go in other directions.
Did you go to many haunted houses as a kid?
Yeah, I've always gone to them. As a kid, I did for sure. The first haunted houses I ever went in were really low rent ones at carnivals. You know the traveling carnivals that pop up for a weekend here or there. Then, you get the mega-haunted house, which is The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. That's the one that blows your mind as a little kid. I remember there was a really great one called Brigantine Castle. It was in New Jersey on the pier. That unfortunately burnt down. As a kid, I'd always encourage my parents to seek them out [Laughs].
Was it important to keep Great American Nightmare musically diverse?
That was the whole thing. When you're doing something it's a broader scope, everybody likes Halloween. That doesn't mean everybody has the same musical taste. I wanted to break it up. There's a metal night. There's an electronic dance music night. There's an old school punk rock night. There's a more alternative night. Every night is different as opposed to making some general statement that everyone likes the same thing at the same time, which they obviously don't. I wanted to break it up. I wanted it to be a whole event. The biggest complaint I've heard from people who go to these things is they stand in line all night long and they don't get to do that much. I wanted it to be a situation where there's a lot going on all over the place. Besides the haunted houses and music, we're going to have wrestling and car shows. There are all kinds of things. You can go multiple nights and still not see everything. The key was more bang for your buck.
What was the process like of making the more ethereal, dreamy moments of The Lords of Salem real?
It was a different process. On the first day of shooting "scary" scenes, for lack of a better term, I came to the realization that they had to be more subtle. Anything that was too big or too in-your-face broke the vibe of what was happening. It's a bit of a different movie. I wanted the whole film to feel as if you're trapped in a weird dream. When it ends, it almost like you're dreaming along with it as opposed to being a passive observer watching a horror movie and jumping in your seat. A lot of people really got it and went along with it. Some people maybe didn't, but when you're doing stuff like that, there's no way to make things like that with everybody getting on board. It's just not possible. I wanted the whole thing to feel off-kilter. Any scene you can watch and go, "Wait a minute, is this really happening or is this in her mind?" When the movie ends, there's a feeling of "What just happened?" You have to think about it.
The camera plays a different role a la Alfred Hitchcock or Martin Scorsese. It's reminiscent of the scene in Taxi Driver where Travis Bickle is on the payphone and the camera pans away from him to an empty hallway.
I wanted to take a different approach with the camera. In the past, I've shot the films a little more rough and handheld—almost documentary-style. It's like you're there. You feel like you're thrown into the middle of the action. By making the camera a little more distant at times, there are more wide shows, and the camera is not as involved in the action. It becomes a little creepier because it's like the camera's mind is wandering off to find something that's not there. I know that shot you're talking about in Taxi Driver. The camera moves, and it's a really weird moment. It makes you feel uneasy because the camera is not doing what you expect it to do. I wanted everything to feel like it shifts slowly. Camera work is tricky. If you're too conscious of it, it takes you out of the film. You're like, "Oh what a cool shot, what's happening". You never want to push it to the point, but the whole thing is about manipulating the audience to make them feel a certain way without seeing the magic trick happening.
As a viewer, you want Heidi to win, but you know she's doomed.
Yeah, early on, the producer notes were always about making a happy ending and having someone save the day at the end. I just thought that undermines the whole thing. I've always been a fan of films that are tragic. That's almost what holds your interest. You know the characters you're watching are ultimately doomed. It doesn't matter if it's Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, or The Shining. You know this is not going to end well for anybody [Laughs]. It just can't. That's like real life. Sometimes, things don't end well. You go through the two-hour journey and you come to a happy ending where someone suddenly saves the day, it always makes me feel like, "What did I just watch that for?" Someone was about to have an impact for me, and somebody else stole it at the last second. I think that's more of a modern day film convention. Seventies movies weren't concerned with you leaving the theater feeling good about what you just saw and neither am I. I don't think feeling good makes the movie more effective, necessarily.
Halloween II was so bold. It has that same dreamscape, and you're left with the same feelings of longing and reality.
I like that feeling. It's almost like a weird empty feeling because it doesn't get wrapped up with a nice bow at the end to make you happy. You're dealing with characters who are so damaged, especially in Halloween II. Your lead characters are either so incredibly scarred from traumatic events or completely insane to begin with. How else would it go? That was the thing I think people responded to and didn't respond to. Audiences think they're supposed to feel good. Even at the end of a movie like Halloween, I thought, "Well, how could anyone feel good everyone's so messed up?" I wanted to make it real. Laurie Strode was a young girl who became a destroyed person not a heroic hero who's going to somehow save the day and kill Michael Myers. To me, that always seemed somewhat absurd.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Astro-Creep: 2000 now?
I don't know. It's funny. Everything changes as time goes on. I get it now when I hear people I love talk about records. You weren't thinking about it like that at the time. You were just doing your thing, making these records, and doing the tours. Now, 20 years go by, and everybody goes, "Oh, that White Zombie tour with you and Pantera was one of the classic tours!" As it's happening, you feel like you're just doing what you do. You don't think, "Wow, this is a really important thing we're doing". You never think that. At the time, you're just living it. It's only when you look back and kids go, "Oh boy, if it could only be that!" You never have that feeling at the time. It's weird. You can feel like you wrote a good song or had a good show, but you don't ever feel, "Wow, this is important in anyway" [Laughs].
Hellbilly Deluxe took the template and perfected it.
I miss those days in a way. What was cool about those days was there was still a way to reach a lot of people. I think Hellbilly was the last record or maybe the one after—it was a different time. Sometimes, I miss those times. You made a video. It went on MTV. You can get millions of views on YouTube, but it still doesn't mean as much as one play on MTV did back then. That just blasted it out there. The kids were going to the record stores. The radio stations were broadcasting from the shows. It really felt very alive. It was exciting, and you felt like it was connecting with people. It's really hard to do that now. We still try our best to make it happen, but there's a real disconnect you just don't get anymore. It's hard. It's not like the new songs aren't as good for any band, it's just really hard to make them connect like you used to be able to. The tools aren't there anymore.
Everything has to be involved for it to work.
Everything will be a festival tour. I don't know whether times change or it's the economy, it just takes a lot to get people out of the house to go to a concert these days. Rock music never had the exposure level of pop music. Maybe at some point in time it did, but it certainly doesn't now. It takes a lot to get people to go out and live it.
Where are you at on Broad Street Bullies?
Right now, we're in the stages of setting up the whole thing. The script is done. That's gone out to people. We're putting together the structure which you need to make a movie in that sense—all of the boring stuff like getting the financing together. We're starting to talk to different actors and people. We're putting the whole thing together. It's a big project. I'm hoping to start shooting that late in the year if possible.
Will you be attending Great American Nightmare?