Q&A: Rob Zombie


Illustration by Chris Morris
The bludgeoning beats, the beard, the blood -- Rob Zombie is a cinematic figure himself with the punishing industrial rock of White Zombie and his solo music. But then he expanded his dark vision from directing music videos to making his 2003 feature debut, the unambiguously titled "House of 1000 Corpses." Two years ago, he resurrected iconic killer Michael Myers in "Halloween," and now, with "Halloween II" opening Friday, Zombie has a few last points to make. Very sharp points.

The Hollywood Reporter: How do you know when you've gone just far enough with violence or depravity in a scene?

Rob Zombie: I never try to make anything extreme for the sake of being extreme -- ever. It's a thing I always talk about with Wayne Toth, who's the makeup/effects guy on my films; we don't ever want it to seem like we're stopping the movie so you can stare at an effects gag. It has to be organic to what's happening. If it goes too far, it's not like it goes too far because you're crossing some moral boundaries. With violence in movies, there's a point where it feels real and there's a point if you push it too far it becomes like a Roadrunner cartoon. I try to keep it simple and gritty. Violence is usually fast and furious.

THR: Having come from the music world, do you feel like you've had to fight for respect in the filmmaking community?

Zombie: Maybe it would concern me if I hadn't gone through the same thing in the music business. There are just certain types of things that don't get respect and never will; hard rock music doesn't. You watch the Grammys, and every year there are records that sell millions and millions of copies, and they'll present the award off-camera. Then they'll present best spoken word album that sold 200 copies on camera during primetime, and you're like, "Really?" Movies like this are the same way. Critics can gush over it and everyone goes crazy, but it is what it is. I don't care. Hey, it's a long, lonely life if you're standing around waiting for f***ing respect from people that you don't even respect in the first place.

THR: What's the most annoying preconception of you that you have to deal with from film executives?

Zombie: They learn real quick that they're wrong, but I think sometimes people think that I'm not serious and I'm not going to work hard. They can't distance the image from the person until they meet me, and then they realize, "This guy works so hard and is so serious, he's gonna drive me up the wall." Because I will bust balls really f***ing hard to get s*** done. I'm psychotically involved in every tiny little aspect. That's just the way I've been about everything my whole life.

THR: Do you have a third "Halloween" script written?

Zombie: I'm done with "Halloween." I get off the "Halloween" bus with this one. This wraps up everything I wanted to do.

THR: So what's next?

Zombie: On Sept. 22, I have an animated film coming out, "The Haunted World of El Superbeasto." After that, I have an album that's coming out in November, and then I'm going back on tour for a while, just to mix it up.

THR: People love using your music for soundtracks. What do you think it brings to the right moment?

Zombie: I've had a philosophy with my music being in movies for a long time: I don't care. I say yes to everything; it doesn't matter to me. Some of the movies are great, and it's cool. Some of the movies are crap -- who cares? I worry about the music in my movies. But at one point it was becoming so ridiculous, I would watch TV and there would be a couple of different trailers running, and they were all using the same song at the same time. Remember when you'd go see any movie, and James Brown -- "I feel good ..." -- would come on? That's what "More Human Than Human" became. I was like, "Oh my God, it's become a f***ing cliche!" (Laughs) So, whatever. I like that it pops up unexpectedly. Like, I was watching "Entourage," and I had a song in that, and I didn't even realize it. I was like, "Oh, that's cool."