I have been a fan of Rob Zombie since I first saw him painting the stage on Headbangers Ball on Mtv back in the 90s. (Remember that?) He has definitely had an interesting career trajectory going from a musician directing his own music videos to eventually directing feature films and becoming a force in American horror.
Say what you will about Rob Zombie, everyone has an opinion on him.
After turning out two original films, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects he helmed the reboot of the Halloween reboot franchise for 2 installment and is now going back to original material. The Lords of Salem his newest film he wrote and directed about a DJ in Salem Massachusetts, who discovers a mysterious curse opens in this Friday, April 19th and stars his wife Sheri Moon Zombie.
I got to chat with Rob in anticipation for Salem and his influences on the film and what the status was on his film about the Philadelphia Flyers Broad Street Bullies, so read on and enjoy.
It’s great to see you get back to more original material, what was the inspiration for The Lords of Salem?
The inspiration was just a wacky idea I had based on a book about the Salem witch trials, I just happened to be reading. Having grown up in Massachusetts and knowing about the witch trials I had been to some of the sites, but I really hadn’t digested any concrete evidence. There was nothing I really remembered.
So when I started reading this book one thing led to another and it spawned the idea.
The witches sub-genre is probably one of the hardest to pull off in horror what where some of the things you wanted to bring to the table for your interpretation of witches?
Well, instead of making the witches these bad people you were supposed to hate and fear, which you can if you want to, I sort of sided with them. That was one of the things I thought from doing some of the research, back in the day with the puritans almost anyone who went against the church was a witch.
You could just be some half crazy lady living in the woods, and you are a witch. That was my approach to the coven, especially in the 1697 section of the movie, I thought of them as these sort of free spirits living out in the woods and basically harming no one. But they are being damned and tortured for living free. They were the original hippies.
That was sort of a different approach I took.
Kubrick seems like a huge influence on the film, with some of the amazing cinematography, and the look of certain sequences, how much time did you spend on planning those aspects of the film?
A lot of it was on the fly as we were shooting, because I had a look and feel of the movie in my head. But as I was shooting the film, it became apparent the script I had written was not going to be able to get done in the time I had allotted to shoot, because I only had 22 days. I had planned something very elaborate in my mind.
So as I was going along, the stylistic choices I made were based on time and budget. But that is how things happen a lot of the times. I decided rather than getting a lot of coverage and shooting a different ways I would just do these big master shots of things, just for the grandeur of it all. Making the rooms where we were in into characters of their own.
So that dictated a lot of it.
It wasn’t too many. I don’t like to watch a lot of movies too close to what I am doing, because I don’t want to be influenced by or get caught up on stuff. Early on when I was just talking to my cinematographer and we were just trying to convey what was in my head and get that into his head it was movies like Polanski’s The Tenant, Repulsion and Suspiria we watched a little bit. But none of these movies had exactly what we were trying to do.
Kubrick is an obvious one because the way he likes to shoot films, but it could have been The Shining, it could have been 2001 or Barry Lyndon. He just has that very composed way of doing things, especially Full Metal Jacket.
So that was something I wanted to do, to make symmetrically composed shots. I am actually as I am talking to you standing in a sort of boardroom with a really long table and this could be a boring office room or you could make the table seem so massive; so very ordinary objects become very grand. You see that a lot in something like Dr. Strangelove with the war room.
I took that approach for Heidi’ s bed, her pictures and taking very ordinary objects and making them very grand and important.
Speaking of Heidi’s bedroom there is a lot of Georges Méliès imagery in there, what was the thought behind that?
Well those are just images I have always loved and they seemed like images you wouldn’t see a lot. It was funny right after we wrapped the movie we went to see Hugo (Laughs) and I was like “Oh my god! No!” But that happens sometimes.
(Laughs) Had I seen Hugo beforehand I would have changed all those images.
Being the musician you are was it hard picking the music for The Lords of Salem?
Well I would go all over the place. I knew early on, that something like the Velvet Underground was going to be influential, because I thought that those songs had the feel of the movie. Maybe because in my mind I associate those song as being depressing, as made by people on heroin, just that vibe. So it comes through in my mind and that is the vibe of the movie.
I just usually use things that I Iike and if I feel it fits, it fits. Working on the score was easy, because I have such a long standing relationship with John 5, conveying my ideas to him was not difficult as all.
Finally being from Philly I have to ask about the Broad Street Bullies film, how is that coming along? I know you were just in the city doing research?
Well its coming along great, the script is already done. It wasn’t finished when I was in Philly and we are just going to start putting it together. I have a bunch of tours I have to accomplish first before I can start another movie. But within that time is when we will be setting up the movie and looking to shoot, sometime, I don’t know when.
Sooner than later, but the script is done and it is all coming together great. There is a lot of interest in the movie, I knew there would be a lot of interest in Philadelphia, but I didn’t know there would be a lot of interest everywhere else.
Its pretty amazing, a lot of hockey fans coming out of the woodwork on this one.
We are also giving away 2 Lords of Salem prize packs consisting of a limited edition poster a t-shirt, a black light and a luggage tag. If you’re Rob Zombie and looking to pick one up simply comment with your favorite Rob Zombie film and why by Sunday, April 21st and 2 winners will be picked at random to win.