And Now, An Intimate Conversation With Robert Zombie

The director of 3 FROM HELL talks comebacks, what his remake of THE BLOB would've looked like, and much more.

Alright, we're talking today because you've got 3 From Hell on the way. At the end of The Devil's Rejects, you had these very same characters getting cut down in a hail of bullets. When you sat down to write this one, did you feel as though you'd painted yourself into a corner?

Rob Zombie: Well, there's a freezeframe there, you don't necessarily see them getting [vaproized by bullets], and so, I had an idea years ago that'd allow me to bring them back, but I just set it aside thinking, "Well, if I ever need this I can justify it happening." As time went on, I kept returning to it, and about three years ago I thought to myself, "Fuck it, I'm gonna do this." I also thought that the documentary-style opening justifies the return.

Do you feel like you've said what you have to say with these characters? Is this the end of a trilogy or do you think you have more Firefly Clan material in you?

Well, no - I don't think I've said everything I have to say, because I tend to think of the characters as living, breathing people. It's not like a journey, like it's Don Quixote, like there's a quest that needs to be accomplished. It's more like, "They're still there. What're they gonna do when they [come around that] corner?" I find that by creating characters that are so outside of the norm for the society that they're existing in, where every time they turn around they cause trouble-- 

They are scamps!

Yeah! They don't need a giant adventure to go on, or a quest. They turn around the corner, the hijack a car, and suddenly it's "Oh, shit, we're in for another movie!" That's what I love about 'em! So, I just treat 'em that way, and for this movie I said, "I'm just gonna let 'em be as old as they are, as old as they are in real life, for as long as they've actually been separated from one another" rather than "OK, we're just gonna pretend like it's the next day." And I think that's pretty cool. 

And do you think these characters reflect your worldview in any real way? Or are they just purely agents of chaos?

I think they reflect my worldview, but they are agents of chaos. That's a good title for the fourth movie, by the way.

Could be!

I mean, even within the chaos they're causing, Otis will get on some rant about how he's not a cog in the system or something, and that's where I instill some actual beliefs in the characters, so they're not just mindless killers or whatever.

The last time I spoke to you was for Lords of Salem, which feels like a real outlier in your filmography at this point. Do you have any interest in making another movie like that, or do you feel that you've gotten that surrealist horror flavor out of your system?

When I finished that movie, it made me want to do something even more out there, in that direction. I'd sorta started tapping into that with Halloween 2, in terms of having a completely different reality happening for some of the characters, and with [Lords of Salem] it basically becomes an entire movie of that, where you've got one character experiencing a completely alternative reality. But I love stuff like that and would love to do it again. But that's what I like about movies, y'know? You don't have to follow a certain, perfect structure all the time with an ending that makes sense to people. That's what's cool about 'em.


Most of the time, with a typical movie, you know exactly what's gonna happen. You can predict what's gonna happen based just on who's been cast in the film. "Well, they're not gonna kill that guy." Sometimes you can even predict the dialogue. That's why - be it David Cronenberg or David Lynch or John Waters or anyone who makes stuff that is not the norm - those are the movies I'm drawn to.

One thing I've been curious about, for many years now, is what your take on a remake of The Blob would've been. Can you talk about that a bit?

Hm, I'm trying to remember - that was so long ago. It was more like, something from outer space starts infecting people, taking over people, and then they all start melding into a Blob and connecting to each other, so it was almost like a disease that takes on a form.

So The Blob would be, like, a mass of arms and legs and people? 

In a way, yeah, but eventually it would take on a more liquid state, and within it you could see elements from the people it had devoured. That one got decently far along, actually. I had a lot of production art done for it and the script completed but - as with most movies - for every movie you make there's 10 that get stalled and [The Blob was one of those].

Which, by the way, brings up another project of yours: that Groucho Marx biopic you were working on. I mentioned to some folks I was gonna be speaking to you, and a whole bunch of 'em wanted to know what's going on with that one.

No, I walked away from that. I mean, I worked on it for many, many years, and it just couldn't seem to get off the ground. I guess a movie about the final years of an 85-year-old comedian's life just didn't spell out "giant box office" to everybody. Then I had a falling out with the producers and it became unworkable, so I just split. As far as I know, there's been no progress on it since.

The fact that you, of all people, were gonna direct that one made it more interesting to me. That was a selling point!

I mean, I really wanted to do it. It was a real passion project. It was different, but there still would've been a dark side to it, like Sunset Boulevard or something. But, hey, c'est la vie. 

Stephen King adaptations are having quite a moment. I'm wondering: if you were gonna tackle one King property, which one it'd be and why?

Hmmm. I dunno. I mean, a lot of 'em - the good ones, like The Shining and Carrie - they don't really need to be redone. Those are definitive. But I'm trying to think...

I know there's been about 500 of the goddamn things, but seems like you'd do something fun with Children of The Corn.

Yeah, I could probably get that done.

There's also this short story, "The Jaunt" - I bet you'd dig that.

Y'know, probably everything you could mention is already in production.

Fair enough.


NOTE: Tickets for the September 16th/17th/18th nationwide release of 3 From Hell are available here.