Rob Zombie is back with a new movie, 3 from Hell. After more than a decade, he’s bringing back Baby, Otis and Captain Spaulding in a flick that will finish out his Firefly Family trilogy, which started with House of 1,000 Corpses and continued with The Devil’s Rejects. Those who thought these characters were dead need to think again, as they’re coming back in bloody fashion.
Why after all these years did Rob Zombie, the highly successful rock icon turned horror director, decide now was the time to revisit these characters? I was lucky enough to chat with Mr. Zombie recently and we discussed that, as well as his possible House of 1000 Corpses musical, balancing his music with his directing and much more. So, without further adieu, here’s our chat with Rob Zombie.
I think most of us kind of thought the Firefly Family was done for good. What made now the right time to bring him back?
Rob Zombie: About three years ago, it just struck me that I wanted to do it now. I had thought about it off and on over the years and always put it aside. I thought, “Let’s just leave it alone.” And then move on to a different movie, or a different record or tour. But then about three years ago, I was like, “F*** it, I feel like I really want to do this.” And I don’t know what made me think the timing was right, but it just felt like the timing was right. And that’s when I started the whole project.
I feel like the first two movies, you know House of 1000 Corpses, is very much a messed up haunted house movie. Devil’s Rejects is very much a messed up road movie. They all have an identity. What would you say the identity of this movie is without giving too much away?
Rob Zombie: It’s a little bit different. The first movie is like a cartoon, almost a cartoon horror movie. The second movie, it becomes kind of like a bleak road movie. This is a little bit different because each act is very different from each other. The first act, it’s sort of like a true crime documentary type prison movie. The second act becomes like a film noir, escape hostage movie, and the third act is completely spaghetti western. I don’t know, I think that’s because I took a little bit of everything. I wanted to take a little bit from the other two movies and pepper them in there slightly so that the whole trilogy of films felt like one giant mark, with each film being very different. But still, they felt like they are related to each other.
You were doing post on this while you were doing your Marilyn Manson tour. If I’m not mistaken. Was it tough balancing those two things at the same time?
Rob Zombie: Well, I wouldn’t do him at the same time. What I would do is take a break. After I shot the movie, I would take a break from the movie, go on tour for a little bit, come back, and it’s the movie for a while. Go back on tour, come back, color time and mix the sound. I would never do them simultaneously. That’s not possible.
That’s kind of what I was thinking. Because yeah, that seems like a lot. You’ve been doing the music for years now. And the movies now have been almost a 20-year endeavor. Is it sort of nice having the other thing to kind of take a break from the other thing? Or is it just sort of all just one creative process for you?
Rob Zombie: Both. I mean, it’s one giant creative process for me. But at the same time, what I’m creating is so different it’s nice to take a break because making a record and going on tour is very much me. It’s me on stage, me out front. It’s always me, me, me. Where the movie is totally different. It’s me behind the scenes, behind the camera, in the editing room, completely in the background the whole time. So it’s a nice switch between the two. One is very much like showing up in the same editing room every day, sitting in a chair, working all day. It’s just about staring at a screen all day and drinking coffee. Whereas going on tour is the exact opposite of that.
Especially because you genuinely put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.
Rob Zombie: Thank you.
So for you, it’s not just getting on the stage. You put on a show when you put on a show. You have a very theatrical performing style. Did that sort of influence your filmmaking? Or after becoming a filmmaker, did that change how you approached your live shows at all?
Rob Zombie: I think the music affects the movies more because the music was first. I’ve never really sat down and thought about it, but to quickly think about it, I just think I see everything in very visual terms. When I’m making a movie, I want everything to be visually interesting. Everybody’s face, everybody’s hair, their clothes, the background, the wall, the door. Everything. Everything should have something visual and interesting to look at. A lot of times what will bore me in a movie is when I’m looking at people and go, “Everybody looks the same. I’m getting these characters confused. They’re all the same age, with the same haircut, basically wearing the same clothes. What the f*** am I watching? Couldn’t they have figured out a way to make this more visually interesting?” Same thing with a stage show. I feel like every band number has to be interesting. Everything on stage has to be constantly interesting.
It seems to be working for you. You mentioned you have that visual sense. If I recall, a while back you were on Larry King and you said something about doing a House of 1000 Corpses Broadway musical? Is that something that you just said in the moment, or is that something you would actually consider doing?
Rob Zombie: Oh that’s something I would totally consider doing, because it’s something that I think really lends itself to that. Because that movie, in particular, is so theatrical and so over the top, that it seems like it would work. Especially these days, where you have everything from Spider-Man, to Beetlejuice, to The Addams Family as a Broadway play. I’ve made no moves yet to try and make that happen but it is a backburner thing in my mind all the time.
That just occurred to me when you’re talking about the theatrics. Circling back to 3 From Hell, you’re doing this thing with Fathom where you’ve got these three special nights for the movie and I feel like right now a lot of people in the industry, and even fans like myself, are just trying to find an excuse to get people out to theaters. Was that part of your thing in teaming up with Fathom? Where you could sort of generate that need and theatrical experience?
Rob Zombie: I really like it because it gives me the opportunity to do everything. I mean you know eventually the movie will be on Blu-ray. It’ll be on iTunes. We all know that’s where everything’s gonna end up. But for those people who want to see it theatrically, it’s great to hook up with a Fathom and go, “Okay. We’re gonna put it on 1000 screens for three days.” You go see it that way, if you want that experience. A lot of people don’t care about that experience. They just they want to watch it on their phone the second they can download it or whatever. But I think it’s important, especially for movies like this because the business has changed so much. Where now if you look at what’s out there, superhero movies and Disney type stuff dominate screens most of the year. I mean, it’s like summer blockbuster season all year round, eventually. So when you have more NC-17 type, gnarly small films, the money is not there to put it on 3000 screens. It’s not gonna happen because Lionsgate would have to go, “Okay, we’ll get $30 million in promotion behind this little movie.” So eventually your movie has the gross $70 million to break even, which is crazy. So things like Fathom really help.
Do you have any idea what you’re what you’re gonna do next? Or are you just taking a big break?
Rob Zombie: I have several things that are up in the air. As always. I never know which one is gonna be the one that lands first. So, yes, I have projects bouncing around, but do I know what’s next? No.
Rob again, I cannot thank you enough. I’ve been a huge fan for years. It was a genuine pleasure getting to talk to you and not really a question here, I just want to send my very best to Sid [Haig]. Just know that we’re all thinking about him.
Rob Zombie: Right on, man.
3 From Hell is screening on September 16, 17 and 18 nationwide. To grab tickets or for local showtime information, head on over to FathomEvents.com.