In the second installment of /Film’s in-depth chat with Rob Zombie, we discuss the limp yet horny state of the American horror film. Zombie also rants on why getting original projects made in Hollywood has become a lamer development hell. Given that his last theatrical movie as a writer/director was a remake (Halloween), and that this summer’s H2 (Halloweeen 2) is a sequel, it’s interesting to hear Zombie get the lead out in such bold fashion. But consider that a release for his $10m animated film with Paul Giamatti, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, is on the burner indefinitely; and that his T-Rex—a violent ’70s-set flick about a heathen war vet/boxer—now revs at a yellow-light. The status of both projects is discussed below.
While Zombie’s vision for Michael Myers has proven divisive, the privilege to re-shape one of the top three monsters of modern horror was well-earned. His directorial debut, 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses, has held up nicely in the years since; a fun-house experience akin to falling down a broken disposal, Corpses wallows in the slime of decades’ worth of deranged genre influence. 2005 brought his signature film, The Devil’s Rejects, arguably the most nefarious celluloid celebration of murder and nihilism set loose in theaters this decade. Four years later, even he’s a little surprised that it exists. But exists it does; a major studio picture that feels like the extroverted, distant Southern cousin to William Lustig‘s ode to the NYC lurker Maniac.
Rejects solidified Zombie as the rare, talented filmmaker sitting high on the pop-cult ladder whose work craps on any and all moral barometers. And after speaking at length, we’re convinced that there isn’t a working director in the U.S. more dedicated to the hard-R picture-show. (Click here for Part 1)
Hunter Stephenson: How you depict violence on film sets you apart. It seems like much of the violence in American horror films these days, it’s very routine and mundane. A lot of the violence in your films seems flat-out wrong, but in a really good way. [Zombie laughs] You were never part of the torture-porn trend, when Hostel and Saw came out, and what not.
When you show violence on screen, it serrates but then you move on, and I think it’s very effective. I’m wondering, what films do you watch to get your kicks for violence? What films do you draw on when you’re making them?
Rob Zombie: Well, I like when violence seems real and I like when it seems ugly. I like when the act doesn’t seem fun. I was never a fan of ‘80s slasher movies. I think they are cartoony and silly. I was more into the violence in movies like Taxi Driver, The Wild Bunch, and Bonnie and Clyde. The violence in those films makes a statement in some way. You know what I mean? It’s saying something. And it’s either brutal, or depressing, or it’s real. But it’s never fun.
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Last month, /Film visited the set of H2 (Halloween 2). After flying into Atlanta, Georgia, a colleague and I followed a publicity firm’s map and drove far out into the country, down winding roads encased by high trees that exhaled into healthy farmland. The sun was setting, the temperature was cooling, and our cell phones were no longer getting reception. We were lost. We finally came to a local cop car blocking a road, lights on spin. The cop exited—he was alive—and said, “Here for the movie?” and pointed us in the direction of Haddonfield, a fictional town that millions of people all over the world have watched Michael Myers terrorize for years.
Since 2007, the grisly lore of Haddonfield has rested in the determined hands of writer/director Rob Zombie. And in my opinion, so does the current state and fate of the American horror film, an institution predictably oft-sniffed at, but that is vital to our culture. As exemplified in our epic interview—divided into two parts—Zombie is a filmmaker who is unapologetically forthright about detractors of his vision for Halloween and horror, and much more. There is great irony to be found in that so many 20somethings wake up to Zombie’s music cuing The Howard Stern Show, and that the same guy is creating cinema that aspires to haunt our grandkids’ nightmares more so than the last president. (Click here for part two of the interview.)
Hunter Stephenson: In December, it was officially announced that you were on board for the sequel. So, between then and the release date this August, you have had to write, cast, prep, shoot and now you guys are editing. That’s such a small window. When you first sat down to write the script, where did you want to go with Myers and this new mythology you created?
Rob Zombie: Well, I looked back at the first film and I thought, What would be the most realistic fall-out from the events that occurred previously? So, I started with Laurie Strode. The reality now is this: here is a girl who wakes up, her parents are murdered, most of her friends are murdered, and she finds out her brother is the person who killed everybody. What is the reality of that? What does that do to a person? I felt it would be much more interesting this time to make Laurie this dark, damaged character. And everyone else too.
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We’ll be posting my rather epic interview today with Rob Zombie shortly. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt in which he clears up misconceptions surrounding Michael Myers‘ “mask-less ratio” in H2 (Halloween 2). You may recall previous reports that Myers will go mask-less for 70% of the film. But as Zombie emphasized in good humor, the editing process has just started on the sequel, rendering the figure moot…
/Film: I think what has sparked the most controversy so far over the sequel is the mask. Once that statistic hit the Net that had Michael only wearing the mask for 30% of the movie, it was on. To be honest, it sounded like bullshit to me, so I didn’t report it. …Would you care to clarify?
Rob Zombie: It is total bullshit. [laughs] See, I think Wayne Toth [SFX] said [70% mask-less] when you guys were down on the set. Wayne wasn’t bullshitting you, but that was taken out of context, and to an extreme [online]. We’ve filmed so much stuff and at this point nobody but me knows what we’re going to use or not use. There are more shots of Michael Myers running around in his mask in this movie than in any of the other movies. I don’t think anybody has to worry. Yeah. Michael Myers never looked so good. [laughs]
Zombie also expressed complete disdain for all prior Halloween sequels, calling them “pathetic.” It’s a pretty candid interview. Some fans will be disappointed to learn that Tyrannosaurus Rex will most likely not be Zombie’s next film due to—per the interview—Hollywood’s current appetite for unoriginal, toned-down fare. After the jump we have the latest one-sheet for H2, released today.
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Rob Zombie is now through with his principal photography on H2 (a prequel to H20 and sequel to… er… H, non?) and is up to his beard in post production. Between now and the film’s release on August 28th, I dare say we’ll be seeing a lot more controversial material from the set and playing host to a lot more heated debate.
And why shouldn’t we get stuck in today, eh? Will give us all something to do on the holiday weekend anyway. Below the break is a nice big officially released picture of Michael Myers modeling his William Shatner mask from the last installment, courtesy of Zombie’s MySpace page.
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If you’ve seen any of the set photos from H2, Rob Zombie‘s sequel to the Halloween reboot, you may have noticed Tyler Mane not wearing the signature mask, ShockTillYouDrop was able to confirm with effects make-up artist Wayne Toth that Michael Myers will be maskless for more than 70% of the film. Towards the end of the film, Myers wears a new mask which Toth describes as “a lot different from any of [the masks] we’ve seen.”
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The above photo shows actor Tyler Mane reprising Michael Myers in Rob Zombie‘s H2: Halloween 2 and arrives via a new tipster batch sent to Shock. While it’s difficult to make out the face, the guy is rocking long locks and a huge beard (!), features never previously associated with the horror icon. Over the weekend, many /Film commenters had it out over the superiority of Zombie’s Halloween compared to Platinum Dunes’s limp F13th, and it seems that Zombie will continue to excavate canon and pave new ground in the sequel. Cool by me. Also of note, actor Daeg Faerch who played a young, blond Myers in the first film reports that he has been recast in the sequel due to height issues. He is bummed.
The blog Rated-M also managed to get photos from the film’s set, and they reveal two things: there will be Halloween decorations and vibes aplenty (horror fans cited a lack thereof in the first film), and the biography on Myers by an opportunistic Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell), The Devil Walks Among Us, will play into the plot as well.
More set pics after the jump…
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The gory image above is our first clear look at Laurie Strode, once again played by actress Scout Taylor-Compton, in H2: Halloween 2. Nice chipped teeth, eh? As you’ll recall, Strode is the (formerly) estranged sister of slasher Michael Myers, and according to horror visionaire Rob Zombie, “let’s just say this is the best part of her stay [at the hospital]. The worst is yet to come.” It will be interesting to see how Zombie’s sequel deviates from the original underrated 1981 follow-up, which was co-written and ghost-edited by The Shape’s creator, John Carpenter, and also set partially in a hospital to creepy effect. On his blog, Zombie has ended speculation about actor Malcolm McDowell reprising the pivotal character, Dr. Loomis, confirming that “he’s back and ready to deal with Big Mike.”As we’ve mentioned, H2 is due with the quickness this August and is now shooting in the state of Georgia.
After the jump: Hunter’s lengthy rant on the complete disappoinment and failure that was Marcus Nispel’s Friday the 13th, and Platinum Dunes’ annoying reign over horror icons vs. Rob Zombie’s polarizing Halloween and interpretation of Michael Myers. No friggin’ contest!
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Dimension Films has signed Rob Zombie to direct a sequel to his 2007 remake/prequel/reboot of Halloween. The studio is rushing H2 into production for a March start and a hopeful October 2009 release. The film will be a direct sequel to the Zombie’s 2007 film, and will not be a remake of 1981’s Halloween II.
I’m a fan of Zombie as a filmmaker, but found myself extremely disappointed with his version of Halloween. It was completely devoid of the thrills and suspense that made the original so great. Allowing the audience to see Mike Myers’ backstory is like showing who Darth Vader was before he had to wear the suit (and we all know how that turned out).
But, as much as I disliked Zombie’s Halloween, I have faith that Zombie could correct many of the problems in a sequel. I would assume that H2 won’t have the flashback/backstory elements, and will hopefully tell the story from the victims point of view, in affect, heightening the scare factor.
With one of the choicest “stranded on an island with entertainment center” filmographies, genre or otherwise, director John Carpenter is without a doubt a fave here at Slashfilm. Next month, the man himself will be on hand for two out of four nights to wax awesome on his various ’80s era classics at a film festival presented by non-profit American Cinematheque (nice effort!) and Santa Monica’s Aero Theater. Unfortunately, They Live (probably my fave of his) is not being shown, but one really can’t moan the slightest about such a rare opportunity. Here’s the schedule…
Friday, June 13th, 7:30 p.m.
The Thing and The Fog
Carpenter will discuss films between showings
Saturday, June 14th, 7:30 p.m.
Escape From New York and Escape From L.A.
Carpenter will discuss films between showings
Sunday, June 15th, 7:30 p.m.
Halloween and Christine (no speaker, but how sick is this double feature!?)
Wednesday, June 18th, 7:30 pm.
Big Trouble in Little China and Assault on Precinct 13
AOP13‘s Austin Stoker will discuss between films
Hopefully, everyone reading this site has seen these films. If not, make like Chainsaw and Dave this summer and join the club. If you’ll be attending one or more of these screenings with Carpenter shoot us an email after with a report. For more info, go here.