Working from a script he, once again, penned, Zombie relocated production from Pasadena (where much of his remake was shot) to Georgia where he revisited his vision of the Michael Myers saga with actors Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell and many other familiar faces. ShockTillYouDrop.com catches up to the man just a few weeks into editing...
ShockTillYouDrop.com: When you committed to the sequel, did you already have a seed of an idea of where to take it? Did the writing process go fast and furious?
Rob Zombie: Everything has been fast and furious with this one. But no, I had no thoughts on it because I hadn't planned on doing it. I didn't have anything prepared, but once we started it was fast as it turned out to our advantage.
Shock: Well, did you find yourself the least bit surprised by the ideas that hit you?
Zombie: The script was constantly being written because there wasn't enough time to live with things which is fine with me because sometimes because you can live with a script for too long and you over-think it. The life can go out of it. I actually had this conversation with Robert Rodriguez and he said sometimes if you let a movie sit around too long there's too much time to ruin it. People get in your head, they give you suggestions. Things go on. What was good is that this was similar to The Devil's Rejects in that I jumped in and went for it. There wasn't a lot of time to over-think it and that worked out better for me.
Shock: Did you find that was the case even when you were on set? Finding the film organically as you worked with the actors?
Zombie: Well, one thing I liked about returning to this movie, in the same way I liked returning to The Devil's Rejects, is once you know the actors - when you first work with them, you don't know these people, they're complete strangers, you might know them from their work - it takes a long time to develop a relationship with them and unfortunately you don't have the time. By the end of the movie maybe you do. By this movie, now, I've known these people for a while, I'm friends with them, so I could tailor the parts to them. You get to know their strengths, that's not to say they can't do whatever you call on them to do, especially in the case of Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif. Now that I know them, I know what they excel at and where they really shine. You can see it through their careers, "Wow, that's so Malcolm, he's going to go crazy with that." Even Malcolm said the same thing when he got the script, he was so excited and all of his scenes were a blast to do because it was stuff that he could really run with. And I would say that applied to everybody. Filming a sequel, it can go two ways. You can do a cheap-o knock-off of the same thing, which I didn't want to do or you can take all of our actors, we know all of the characters, we can dig in and do something deeper and more meaningful than we did before.
Shock: Producer Malek Akkad conveyed that on set, as well - that this strays from the normal sequel we've seen before, but it definitely goes deeper. Can you elaborate on how?
Zombie: The first movie was tricky because the conflict is that it's Halloween. It's John Carpenter's well-known story and well-known characters. That was the problem at all times, because I was battling with how much do I change? How much do I keep? Is it too similar? Too different? That movie from start to finish...sometimes you have experiences on a film like The Devil's Rejects - perfect experience. Wonderful all the way through. Halloween was a f**kin' nightmare from the moment it started to the moment it ended. It was just one of those things where if something could go wrong, it did. Everything was a problem. On this film, it was the exact opposite. Everything went great, we just locked into a groove and went with it. And I think that happened because there was nothing hanging over it. The characters had all been damaged and f**ked with through my movie, they don't relate to anything that's come before. For the actors, and myself, it made it easier, fresh and more my film this time. I felt with Halloween the first half of the movie was very much me, the second half was me trying to figure out what to do with John Carpenter's stuff. That becomes a mindf**k. This time I didn't care, we didn't have to think about any of that and it makes for a much better movie.
Shock: There's a palpable growth creatively that can be seen between House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. Would you say we'll be seeing something similar between your two Halloween films?
Zombie: Sometimes you grow, or, sometimes there's other things that play, too, like...how do I put this? Making a movie is a joint effort of a lot of people. Sometimes you lock into a really solid groove of a certain person, like my [director of photography] Phil Parmet who was also on The Devil's Rejects. We butted heads and could not get along on Halloween, it was disastrous. With this movie, I have a new d.p. Brandon Trost and we locked into that killer groove that you lock into. Two people have to function as one. That was the difference. Movies are incredibly difficult even when they're going great. You cannot have that war of personalities, it just kills what's happening. We didn't have that this time and it's awesome.
Shock: Did that new groove yield a different look for this picture? What are the differences?
Zombie: The biggest difference on this - I hate talking about what's wrong with things - on Halloween what I was unhappy with was the film looked too clean. For this type of thing, it looked too clean and that's a problem I dealt with in post-production. The Devil's Rejects is a dirty looking movie. That's what I liked about it. What I did with Brandon, we made a Halloween 2 - or whatever the f**k they're going to call it - dirty again. We went back and shot it on super-16mm and it's got a dirty vibe that's my thing. I felt on the last movie my thing had been removed which was a problem.
Shock: One of the things you expressed in the gigantic making-of documentary is that you shot a lot of material and by the time you went into the editing room, it was all about paring things down. Was that the case here?
Zombie: Yes, we shot like maniacs. We did some re-shooting on Halloween or additional stuff. I knew on this one our schedule was so tight, so I overcompensated by shooting every scene every which way I could think of so I, when I was in editing, I wasn't saying, "F**k, if only I had this but I don't have it!" There's so much f**kin' film here. That's the one thing you learn as you go on. You really want to cover your ass because once you get into the editing room, you're f**ked.
Shock: What's happening with the familiar Halloween theme and music cues this time? Are you using them or going off on your own?
Zombie: We're just starting to crack that nut. We're not sure yet. We're going to redo the entire score, we're not reusing any of the cues we had on Halloween because it would just seem weird. We're just starting to figure that out.
Shock: We're talking after the official trailer's been release and it's interesting to see how much of it plays on the hospital angle when the story really isn't set there all that much.
Zombie: Yeah, here I am complaining again, one thing that bugged me about the trailer was it made something that is a very tiny thing in the movie seem like the whole movie. The trailer was cool, but I don't think it did the movie justice. It took things that were really small and made it seem huge. We were still shooting when they cut the trailer and the trailer is cut by people who have no idea what we're doing so what you get back sometimes is confusing. Usually, I get more involved but I was so overwhelmed with the shooting I just didn't have time to be a part of it.
Shock: Can you talk about Michael Myers' new look that we're seeing in the photos and trailer?
Zombie: There is a photo out that I didn't approve that has Michael standing there with half of the mask off. You never really see it like that. You have these on set photos of him standing there in this brightly lit room. Everyone starts complaining, "I don't like the way it looks!" Well, it never looks like that. I thought the mask should degenerate as Michael's state of mind degenerates but it's never that clearly seen and it's still pretty mysterious in the actual film.
Shock: What was alluded to is that Laurie Strode goes through a bit of a mental degeneration, too. Did you find Scout really receptive to this or did it take some convincing?
Zombie: I think Scout is an incredible actress and she didn't get nearly what she's capable of doing in the first film. Again, Laurie Strode as portrayed in Halloween is more or less John Carpenter's vision of this girl in a way. In this movie, that's not the case at all. This is more how I see things. It's like once the characters get fucked up, the people are more relatable to me or something. Her character has a lot to do and it gets pretty heart-wrenching. Everybody does, everybody in this film is pretty damaged. In the first film, Michael is the only damaged one. In this, Loomis is f**ked, Sheriff Brackett is f**ked up. Laurie is a mess, Annie is a mess. These are emotionally damaged people which always makes for more interesting characters.
Shock: Is this film bigger in scope? When we were on set you had a car on fire, police everywhere, a helicopter scene - it definitely looked like you opened up the action a bit.
Zombie: It's a much bigger film. On some level it's both. The scope is much bigger than the first film, but the actual story and characters is much more personal, so it's both. The thing about getting out of L.A. and into Georgia, you can shoot with a greater scope. When we were in Pasadena, it turned out to be a huge mistake because you couldn't get any scope without seeing a palm tree or a Starbucks.
Shock: New Line is putting their latest Final Destination up against your film. What are your thoughts on that?
Zombie: It is what it is. You try to find a good date to put your movie out and it doesn't matter where you move it there's always something else that will land on the same day. It's a bummer that there are two horror movies because you split the audiences. What can you do? I'm sure Final Destination is very...look, our movie is f**kin' dark. Dark and nasty, so we'll see.
Halloween 2 opens August 28th.
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