Rocker-cum-writer/director Rob Zombie’s re-imagination of the Halloween franchise is a dark, gory fantasia where John Carpenter’s original circa ’78 characters are a collection of layered, psychologically disturbed misanthropes. The former White Zombie frontman’s prior film pursuits — House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects — were littered with gruesomely violent acts, and Halloween II (in theaters Friday) is no exception to the Zombie film norm. Halloween II continues where his first remake left off, focusing on Michael Myers’s sister, Laurie, as she picks up the pieces of her brother’s killing spree. Mellow Zombie talks about the state of the film industry in ’09, his personal absence of the ‘fear factor’ and how to market a movie the right way.
What’s going to shock people in this film? Two things that they don’t expect from this type of movie: they’re surprised by how involved they get with the characters as an actual drama and then they’re actually surprised just how graphic and realistic the violence is. Not in a goofy splatter movie way but in a real life way. People are walking out of it going, “Holy crap, way more fucking intense than I was prepared to deal with!”
Are there any horror films that scare you? No. Nothing. I see them and I appreciate them and I can like them, but they don’t scare me in any way. Unfortunately. That shock has worn off.
Describe the first time you saw John Carpenter’s Halloween? I saw it on its original run back when it came out in ’78 at the drive in on a double feature. I was probably 13 or 14. I thought it was super scary and awesome. It’s hard to believe now, because that movie’s been so copied and imitated and every aspect of it almost seems like a cliché, but at that time, it was so fresh and original. It was just mind-blowing. The only movie that you could relate it to was Psycho.
What’s different about the mask in the sequel? There was the famous mask that they used in John Carpenter’s and through all the subsequent sequels, they always had a new mask, and they always, to me, looked really shitty. It never had any real purpose or significance or any kind of symbolic nature to it. We’ve been using the same mask for the first film and now our second film and it just keeps degenerating. It’s crumbling and falling apart. Sort of like as Michael Myers’s state of mind deteriorates, so does the mask. In this version, it’s pretty dirty and filthy and ripped apart and half of it is missing, you can see half of his face exposed. Picking apart at the legend.
What’s different about your version of Laurie? In the first movie, we don’t really know much about her. We just kind of introduce her, ‘Oh here she is, Laurie Strode. Happy-go-lucky all- American girl.’ But now, she’s Laurie Strode, girl who wakes up and finds out that her parents are murdered and most of her friends are murdered too. She’s scarred on the inside and out. I tried to play upon the idea that a lot of times, people who have been through really tragic events will try to reinvent themselves to distance themselves from who they were. So she’s trying to be a more outgoing, punk-rock type girl. It’s a totally different character. She’s lashing out at everything, trying to make sense of how destroyed her life is now.
An unofficial trailer was leaked online and viewers are saying that this one is better than the official trailer. What hand do you have in the marketing of your films? I always disagree with the way studios want to market my films. It’s been a source of contention on every single one of my films. I try to make movies that are different from the norm and the problem is that studios don’t really want to market anything different from the norm. They want to make everything look like ‘the norm’. So, no matter how layered you make a movie or how character driven, they still want to market it like it’s a generic slasher movie. I liked that trailer that got leaked because I feel that it more so incorporated the scope of our film and the feel of our film as opposed to some of the other spots that felt like a totally different movie to me.
Do you want viewers to view this as a Rob Zombie film? I think that’s a great quality if people can do that, because as a director, if you can have your voice in the film, so people can watch it and go, wow that’s obviously a Spielberg film, a Scorsese film, a Tarantino film, it just jumps out that you know it’s that person because their directing style is so strong. That’s a great compliment. I get that a lot, that people say, ‘That’s so you, you come through so strong in your movies.’ It’s a little harder to step back and judge it. What about that, it is exactly, I’m not sure.
Tell us about the soundtrack. The most significant song in the movie is “Nights in White Satin.” It plays almost constantly through the first fifteen minutes of the movie, over and over. I always like to take a really classic song that you’ve heard a million times and try to twist it around so you never quite hear it the same again. I did that in Devil’s Rejects with “Free Bird”. Now people are like, ‘I can never hear “Free Bird” again without picturing that movie.’ That’s a great thing considering how many times most people have heard [that song] in their life.
What’s going on with El Superbeasto and Tyrannosaurus Rex? El Superbeasto is finished and that’s coming out September 22nd and Tyrannosaurus Rex is still a future project. That’s not in any kind of status right now. It’s a script I’ve written that may or may not be the next film for me. I would like for it to be my next film. You never know for sure.
What’s the most difficult thing about making a film now? Nothing ever seems to get easier. And in 2009, with the economy slowing down, studios are tightening their budgets, they don’t want to spend the money and they don’t want to take any kind of risks. Not that they ever did want to take risks. As more and more time goes on, it really feels like all they want to do is make sequels, remakes or something based on a graphic novel. It’s really difficult to try to get any new, original material through the system.
Where do you hang out? I don’t really have a favorite anything. I always try to go somewhere different. I love Nobu when I’m in New York. We used to go to Katsuya all the time before TMZ swooped down on it. Now it’s too annoying. We also used to go to Madeo, but last time it was a nightmare with photographers. New York doesn’t have that going on. That people shoving video cameras in your face, asking you stupid questions every time you step out of a place.