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INT: Rob Zombie

Nov. 15, 2005by: Matt Withers

I love my job, but sometimes I really love my job. Like when evil StepPapa JoBlo asked me if I wanted to interview Rob Zombie about the DVD release of THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. Let's just say I'm not much of a dancer, but I might have done a little jig. It was just a bonus that Rob was cool, chill, gracious and very clear about his ideas and vision.

The first thing Im curious about is, despite all the blood, nudity, violence and dark humor in the film, one of the strongest themes running through it is family love and loyalty. Would you talk some about how such a wholesome ideal became a centerpiece of this incredibly violent film?

It all kinda started with something I remember as a kid. My mothers sister had 7 boys, and they were always fighting viciously with each other. It seemed like they hated each other, but if anybody ever came between them, suddenly they were united.

It seemed like the more people would fight with each other, the more they would fight for each other. And so you see that a lot in the film. Otis cant stand Spaulding. Spaulding hates Otis. Baby cant stand Otis. They love to hate each other almost.

You get the sense that would be the case with the Wydells as well if we got to see them growing up.

Oh sure.

Then with Banjo & Sullivan, Roy Sullivan seems very willing to cheat on his wife. Yet when push comes to shove, even though hes completely inept at it, hes trying to do what he can to protect her.

Well I don't think Roy would have cheated on his wife. I never played it that way. He was just this old guy soaking up the attention. But yeah, a lot of reviews said all the characters are mean to each other, there are no redeeming characters, and I dont think thats the case.

The way I looked at Banjo & Sullivan was from the experience of, if youve ever toured in a van for months and years on end, it doesnt matter who youre with. Your mother, your favorite aunt, your best friend. Thats how people are. They get on each others nerves. I never looked at it as bad people.

Theres always been that schmaltzy sitcom, oh we all love each other 7TH HEAVEN horseshit. But I see so much of it seep into movies and you go who the f*ck acts like that? Nobody has a PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES Thanksgiving where everyone is in wonderful sweaters. Every holiday ends with the family fighting with each other. At least at my house. Thats why its funny when people say Oh, everyone is so horrible in the movie. Give me a break. What kind of Brady Bunch life are you living?

Coming back to the violence in the movie, one thing you mentioned on the DVD is that you didnt want the violence to seem exciting. Considering what we see on TV everyday, the sort of general desensitization to violence right now, were you purposely looking to force the audience out of their comfort zone? Or were you just looking to f*ck with peoples heads? Maybe a little mixture of both?

I was just looking to be truthful. People will ask are movies like this socially irresponsible, or morally this or that. I dont think so. What I think is a socially irresponsible movie say, is any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Where hes just shooting, shooting, shooting a million bullets and nobody gets hurt.

Or THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. Oh look were racing cars and doing these stunts and its all OK. I hate when violence is shown like a guy is shooting a machine gun, and somehow another guy is outrunning the bullets. Like thats ever happened.

Thats why I thought the violence should be disgusting. It should be repulsive. It should be awful. It is horrible. Its not supposed to be fun and exciting. So when people ask, "Do you think anyone will be influenced by this movie?" No. And anybody that would be is already in that mindset anyway. Nobodys gonna watch this and go, "Oh yeah, I wanna do that to somebody". I mean by the time Otis finishes killing Banjo and Sullivan it should just be sickening.

Speaking of the motel room scene, Bill Mosley talks about how he was getting bummed out, and what you said to him was "Art isnt safe".

Yeah.

What struck me is that while that's often true, art does usually have a distinct point of view. I was wondering if there was anything in particular in that scene that you were looking to impart? Or were you simply working with an individual actor to get him the perspective he needed?

Both. You have to work with every actor on the level they need to get the job done. When I said that to Bill, what I was saying was you may feel like crap right now. Because why would you feel good about it. But if you hold back and dont give it your all, youre going to feel terrible later. Youre gonna watch it and go, what was I thinking? Why did I sell it short? Why did I not go for it?

When youre making art, its not supposed to be safe. Or necessarily liked by everybody. Thats the other thing that drives me crazy with some of the reviewers. As if every movie, and book and thing thats ever made is somehow...like everyone is supposed to enjoy it. Its just not f*cking possible. Doesnt matter what it is. It could be The Beatles and you can always find that one guy whos like "I hate The Beatles!" Everything cant be for everybody.

Theres been a lot of good reviews, but the ones that didnt like it have been so "well I admit that its a well made movie but its morally this or that". Give me a f*cking break. You went into the movie, whatd you think it was? Everything that I love has always been treated that way.

Well continuing with the idea of responsibility, one of the things that I thought you did really well in the movie was avoid the typical Hollywood love affair with the "charismatic killer". You certainly allow the Firefly clan to be human and allow the audience to feel for them, but there is no question that they are loathsome characters. Im curious how you managed to strike that balance?

That was the main trick with the whole movie. My lead characters are all despicable and worthless. How do I make an audience want to watch them for two hours? But still not glorify them because I didnt want to do that in any way. Basically I think theres something to be said for exploring dark things.

People are interested in it because its not their life, and sometimes killers and bad people are charismatic. How else can they manipulate people? Whether its Charles Manson, or Ted Bundy, or Adolf Hitler, theyve gotta have some charisma or theyre not going to be able to get people to do what they want. Doesnt mean that in any way they have any redeeming value, but the charisma is there.

One of my favorite scenes is Wendy Banjo's death. Not only is it a great homage to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but it's funny as hell too. Were there other movies that directly influenced this project, and if so, how did you integrate them?

A lot of movies influenced it in little ways. Something like BONNIE AND CLYDE. They play them up in a much more likable way, but basically youre following the journey of the bad people. Or a Cliff Robertson movie, CHARLY, that I loved as a kid. Some of the editing and split screen ideas were like that. A lot of people see split screens and they go "oh music video", which is so stupid. Movies like THE GETWAY and THE WILD BUNCH. That whole time period in Hollywood seems pretty gritty.

Returning to the DVD, I really enjoyed getting to see the Dr. Satan scene, though I understand why it had to be cut. Are there any other elements of the DVD that youre particularly excited about?

The thing Im most excited about is the documentary. It really gives you a great feel of what it was like to actually be there. You get a sense of the day to day grind, and I mean that in a good way. Movies are just so weird they way you have to make them. Its like boom, boom, you have to stay on this schedule all day, every day, day after day. Its a strange way to work.

I thought one of the cool things about the documentary was how you got to see the shot list for each day so it really gave an idea of the scope of what yall were trying to do.

Each day was a ridiculous day. I mean you could have taken one of those scenes and filled a whole day. That opening gun fight on a big movie couldve taken six weeks instead of a day and a half. Thank God the actors knew what they were doing. If there had been one actor who came in unprepared, or didnt know his lines, we wouldve been f*ckin screwed.

You also talk on the DVD about how you recycled footage, maximized your locations and production value. Was that your approach from the start, or was a lot of that the result of happy accidents?

From the start I wanted to be as thrifty as possible. A budget of $7 million isnt that much for a movie like this. So I would constantly rewrite the script to try and get more out of it. You dont want to get too hung up like it has to be this certain idea.

A good example is the Dr. Satan thing, which may have been one of our most expensive days to shoot. And it all ended up on the cutting room floor. Now youre always going to have days like that, but you dont want to have too many of them. Its amazing how easily money can get pissed away if you dont watch it.

Of course you had an amazing cast with William Forsythe, Sid Haig, Ken Foree, etc. Are there any other actors that you really look forward to working with in the future?

I dont have a list in my head. Certainly somebody like Steve Buscemi. Im a big fan of character actors who are put into lead roles. Because thats like Sid. Sid was always the cool guy in the back that you wish had more scenes.

To switch for a second to the cheesy side of things, on the DVD it was a lot of fun watching the full Morris Green Show. Its a great satirical look at talk shows, but also seems quite well informed. Are you a closet Daytime TV junkie?

Not now, but as a kid. That show is modeled on the Merv Griffin show, or the Mike Douglas Show, or the Dick Cavett show. Especially Dick Cavett. Because the set was small and everybody was always smoking. That sort of cheesy razzle dazzle. And Dan Roebuck was great. He just totally gets it. I would watch that footage over and over. I thought he was so funny.

Of course I have to ask what are some of your favorite horror movies?

My favorite stuff is still the Universal horror from the 30's. Obviously they dont satisfy those who are gore crazy, but I love those movies.

You were talking about how you cant get too caught up in critical response. Do you spend much, if any time checking out what is being said about your work on the internet?

Ill look at it out of curiosity. It certainly doesnt affect what I do. I always take it with a grain of salt because its so faceless. Is this the same guy posting under 100 different names? Is this guy 40, or 10? You never quite know what youre looking at.

Any news you can share on THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO?

Thats moving along really good. Were still storyboarding. By the end of the month we should start recording all the voice tracks, and then comes all the animation. I think it should be done by August.

Whos going to voice El Superbeasto?

Tom Papa. Hes a stand-up comic whos co-writing the script with me.

Any other film projects on tap, or are you pretty much all consumed with El Superbeasto?

Im consumed with El Superbeasto and Im in the studio finishing a record, but I am looking for my next project. Im working on some stuff and Im reading other scripts that are coming in. So hopefully Ill have an answer on that soon.

And just one last question. INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO: guilty pleasure or waste of time?

It really depends on whos on. If its DeNiro, great. If its Rosie ODonnell, no.

Well thanks a bunch for your time, and good luck with all your upcoming projects.

Thanks.

And just like that it was over. Couldn't have asked for a better interview. Even better is that THE DEVIL'S REJECT'S kicks major ass. So go get your copy today!

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