FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Aug 3, 2007

Rob Zombie talks HALLOWEEN, Part 2

Here we go, kids...part 2 of the Rob Zombie Halloween Telephone Extravaganza (part 1 is available right here). Remember, my questions are denoted with an asterix. Now let's get burning and hard-hitting!

*It seems that a lot of the buzz is concerned with the fact that Michael the original he was very much a "force" of evil and he was the "boogeyman" and he was called "The Shape", and now it seems you're making him very real. He's got that classic serial-killer childhood with the animal abuse and things like that, and I'm wondering what was behind the decision to make him more of a "real person".

Well, the thing is everyone's assuming all that. The essential thing is, with Halloween I wanted Michael Myers, who I felt was the key ingredient to the whole series, to be more important- not just be a guy in a mask hiding in the shadows. I wanted him to be more front and center. But, with that said...people seem to have some misconception that everything's explained and that's just not the case. In the first movie, in the original, he kills Judith and then he kinda just stands there and his parents go "Michael?", you know, that's basically all you get. Here we get pieces of his life, but they don't explain anything- you just kinda get glimpses of what it's about without really an explanation. Ultimately he grows up to know...Michael Myers as we know him, so he's not running around like this sort of human guy that we all now understand or something like that.

Can we expect to see any of your influence on the soundtrack?

I didn't do any of the music for this at all. Tyler Bates did the score, which is...recreating some of the classic John Carpenter themes.

*In the original film, Laurie Strode is very much the archetype of the 'final girl'- she even goes so far as to call herself a "Girl Scout". How have you changed that sort of character, since it's now 30 years later and society has changed so much...basically, what kind of final girl can we expect from your version?

Jamie Lee (Curtis) felt real for the '70s and I feel Scout (Taylor-Compton) feels real for now. That was one great thing about her being 17, I could deal with her and get inside her head, rather than, you know, a 32-year-old playing a 17-year-old. Like if there was something in wardrobe, and she'd be like "Do I have to wear these sneakers? These look like something a little kid would wear." That's a superficial element, but...I don't know, it's hard to say. I think she's still kind of the modern equivalent of that character. Not quite as like "Oh, I'm the wallflower with the drabby clothes that nobody likes", not quite as extreme as they played her up in the original, but she's still the "good girl", I guess, with a little more spunk. I made everybody spunkier, especially the little kids. Tommy Doyle, in particular, is a very precocious, smart kid. He's not so much of a know..."Are we gonna carve pumpkins?" because when I met Skyler (Gisondo), who plays Tommy, he's 10 and he's incredibly smart and he knows everything. Why do I wanna dumb him down? Why don't I just make him really smart and well-spoken, as this kid is? 10-year-olds aren't as naive as they used to be. We kinda had to amp up everybody. In fact, it seems like Tommy and Lindsay have the one-up on Laurie and Annie at all times anyway.

Are you having problems with the (MPAA)?

No, we have an R rating. Unless there were things happening that I didn't hear about, but this was the easiest trip to the ratings board yet. I think perhaps that has something to do with...a lot of the films that have been going through there lately, the so-called "torture porn", I don't know if those have made my life easier on a certain level? I have a feeling that somehow it being "Michael Myers" made it easier, because it's this recognizable iconic monster. It was not as much of a nightmare as usual.

The original film is more about the suspense and the tension...have you ratcheted up the violence here?

It's kind of an element of both. Everybody seems concerned that this has somehow gotten really gory and it hasn't, because I don't really like really gory movies anyway. I like movies where there's violence and it plays very real, because I hate fake violence in movies- I don't understand it. I like things to seem real. But there's no extreme things like heads exploding or being chopped off, it's not that type of stuff. It's more like real violence mixed with suspenseful-type things. A combination of everything, but it's not some gory bloodbath.

*The novelization of the original film delved a lot into the Michael/Loomis relationship during the period when Michael was incarcerated. Do you explore that relationship and show more of Michael at the sanitarium before he escapes?

Oh yeah, there's a section in the sanitarium where it goes through his time there. That's one thing we get here, it's not just the young days of Michael, but the young days of Dr Loomis. When he comes to Haddonfield, he talks about all the things he tried to do ("I tried to reach him..."), but we never saw any of that happen. That to me was interesting, watching Dr Loomis's journey with this kid. I was trying to think of it realistically- in real life, a Dr Loomis being put in charge of a Michael Myers is a big deal. That would be a significant case and he would become a significant person, and I wanted to deal with that some.

*It's a pointless exercise to compare the film to the original- with remakes, you really need to try to treat each film as its own entity. But people are saying "Carpenter did this, and Carpenter did that..."; what can you say to my readers, you know, "Well, this is what
I did" that's going to be different and is going to get people to want to get into the theatre to see it?

It's really hard to explain how it's different until you see it. Words don't really mean anything, because people will picture, no matter what I say, they're gonna picture it as they've seen it in their minds. Really, when you watch this movie, the opening scene takes you so far away from what you've seen that you go "Oh, totally different world- totally different movie". The first act is young Michael, second act is basically Smith's Grove, and the third act is Haddonfield, so it's not really until you're so deep into this movie and into this world that you start seeing things that are more familiar. I thought a remake has to be two things: it has to be so different that you want to watch it, yet you want to see some familiar things because if nothing's familiar, then everyone would say "Well, why'd you even bother to call it Halloween?" I wasn't even getting pressure from the studio to keep the white mask! If I had gotten rid of that, nobody would've complained. Those are the things that I held onto.

*Would you be amenable to directing something that was written by someone else, or is it more about the entire process- coming up with the ideas and kind of...birthing the whole project?

I like starting with my ideas because then it becomes this creation of your own, but if someone gave me a script that I loved, that would be great, too. It just hasn't happened yet- but hopefully someday.

Did you have any reservations about writing dialogue for young Michael?

No. I thought that was actually one of the easiest things, because I just wanted him to be normal. That was the other thing that everybody was harping on at first when everybody didn't know what they were talking about, it's like "Oh, they're like this trailer trash...he's this and he's that"...I wrote Michael as a normal kid. Kind of actually a likable kid, because I thought that's what was disturbing, that you could see him do horrible things but somehow he's very likable.

*It seems like there's been a lot of misconceptions about the film.

It's unfortunate. Early on I would see something and it would be really wrong and I felt like, oh, I should respond to it. But then I just decided, you know what? I can't. Almost everything that was being said was wrong. Even as your shooting, people would be like "I heard that the movie got postponed!". Like, well, we're shooting it! We're all over the place shooting it! I think people just go online and literally just try to think of bad things to say and post it, because they would say these things that had no basis in anything. And they always like to add on there, "from a source close to the production", like right. If they say that, you can almost guarantee it's a lie.

I was too busy working on the movie and I had an internet black-out for six months where I was like "I'm not gonna look at anything", because it's just ridiculous. At some point I think a really early version of the script got out, but by the time people were talking about it, it was already so different. People don't seem to realize how much movies evolve and change moment to moment, second to second. So if you're reading something that's eight months old, it's not even worth discussing. It's like the telephone game- something may have started with a moment of truth, but by the time it goes through everybody saying "Well, I heard...", the things that people were discussing were so insane, that I was like "Where did they get that from?" They're all heatedly discussing it with each other, and there was not one ounce of reality left in it.

And that, kids, is the meat of the matter. The release date for Rob Zombie's
Halloween is fast approaching, and then we can finally all see the movie for ourselves and learn what's what. In the end, whether you think it sucks or whether you think it's the greatest movie ever, at least all the speculation and pre-judging will end and somehow we can all try to pick up the charred scraps and move on with our lives. Surely it'll be a long road to recovery, with many a cry of "I can't do it! I'll never walk again!", to be countered with "Yes you can! Just put one foot in front of the other!"...and when that doesn't work, then "Fine, just sit there like a big fat baby, you big fat baby!". After wallowing in our own tears and filth for a while, slowly, surely, we will rise up! We will put one foot in front of another and we'll learn to walk again. In fact, I just know that one day soon after August 31, all of The Internet will join cyberhands and form a big daisy chain of hate and speculation again...right in time for the Friday the 13th remake. Hooray!

A huge thanks and 50 cool points to Rob Zombie for the talkin'.


Anonymous said...

Well done, Stacie. Extremely cogent questions, even if he dodged some of them a bit. : )

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks Bill! Yeah, if this had been a one-on-one, I might have pushed a bit for clarification, or been able to ask some follow-ups. It was still an awesome opportunity, though!!

I'm curious to see the film, if only to find out how much false information made its way around the net.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, look at you with the intelligent, insider, cool-kid questions...burning and hard-hitting indeed. You smoked those other yutzes (I'm sure they were very nice yutzes, but...).

Adam Ross said...

I loved that you referenced the novelization! He was probably thinking "just who the hell is this woman?"

Stacie Ponder said...

He was probably thinking "just who the hell is this woman?"

:D Followed by "Crack is whack!", followed by "I hate these fucking interviews", followed by "Stupid fucking internet".

And then later he fired his publicist.

And then he wrote a song about it.

And then he exploded.

Anonymous said...

...then he turned the song into a video in which his wife plays a nazi in a bikini who whips his publicist and blows up a computer while he's dressed like a ghoul...oh yeah, and midgets.

Anonymous said...

Great questions, Stacie! I do think that he's too delibrately dense when it comes to arguing the merits of making Michael more of a "real world" psycho. Maybe his approach will work just fine but I think Carpenter's instincts were dead on in not trying to psychoanalyze Michael's motives. To me, it's the stuff of run of the mill crime dramas and I doubt that Michael would've had the same kind of lasting popularity if Carpenter had gone that route from the get-go. But with the release fast approaching I'm eager to see Zombie's movie first hand and judge it for myself.

Anonymous said...

Scout's performance was horrible. As was everything else about the movie.

Anonymous said...

i thought the rom zombie remake was better than the original,, at least he went in to a lot more detail about the main character... i rated this as the best horror ive seen in a long time... way better than carpenters version.... thats just my opinion though...

Anonymous said...

I know this is 2 years later. I just got done watching RZ's Halloween for the 2nd time. I've always been a fan of the original and when I first saw his version it put me off(still does) about how he envisioned the Myers family as skanky, hence "explaining" his evil where it was better with him being inexplicably evil from the get-go. Plus, while I think Scout did a good job, the original personality of Laurie was so much more interesting/likable.
However, this movie is good in it's own right. McDowell is fantastic and Michael is scarier in a more realistic fashion. There's no getting around the excellent job at the death scenes as well. Basically, after getting over my original disdain for RZ's choices, this movie is actually very entertaining and should be a model for future horror done right. Looking forward to H2.