Astro Creep extraordinaire Rob Zombie talks horror movies and timeless songs

Creative Note Atlantas Chad Radford chatted with Rob Zombie for the Crib Notes blog.  In the interview they spoke about what makes Thunderkiss ’65 such a classic, remaking horror and forthcoming film ventures, including the soon to be released The Lords of Salem.  Enjoy the interview.

Astro Creep extraordinaire Rob Zombie talks horror movies and timeless songs by Chad Radford

The season of the witch is upon us, and it’s only appropriate that Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson bring their Twins of Evil Tour to Aaron’s Amphitheatre this Thursday, October 25. A three-time Grammy nominee for Best Metal Performance, filmmaker, and astro creep extraordinaire, Zombie is the living embodiment of Halloween. Before making his way to the haunted South, we had a chance to chop it up about his new film, Lords of Salem, his favorite George Romero flicks, and what makes a timeless song so timeless.

Here are just a few excerpts from our conversation.

On what makes White Zombie’s“Thunderkiss ’65” such a timeless song …

That record (La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1) came out in 1992 and we wrote that song way before the album ever came out, so that song is 20-some years old. For me, songs that I’ve always found to be timeless are the ones that were already out of their time to begin with. You can hear a song that someone’s doing now and say “Oh, of course that’s what you’re doing, because that’s what everyone is doing now, but it’s gonna sound dated next year.” But when people react to a song at the time with a “What’s that all about?” That’s usually when a song is going to sound timeless. That’s my theory, anyway.

On remaking a classic horror film …

With Halloween, there was the original Halloween, which was the movie that I loved, and then how many sequels were there? Six? Seven? Each one of them was more pathetic than the last. So I thought “Well, they really drove that movie into the ground for 30 years.” They were just cranking out these sequels and it didn’t look like anyone who was involved with them really even cared about them. So I thought, “Let’s dust it off, give it some respect, and prop it back up.” I really wanted to find the exact balance of what would work. When they came to me with the movie, they didn’t care if Michael Myers was in it, or if Dr. Loomis was in it, or any of the original stuff. They didn’t care, but I wanted to keep the classic elements.

Doing a scene-for-scene remake of John Carpenter’s movie seemed stupid. So I went back and watched the original movie over and over, and I thought, “There’s not a lot in it!” It’s a great movie, but it’s very sparse. We never got a good back-story, aside from a few lines here and there, and that was sort of the jumping off point.

I was always a fan of the movie, but sometimes your vision can get clouded by the time period in which you saw a movie like that. I have fond memories of the film, but when you sit down and really analyze it, you go “Wow, that was a huge plot hole that I never noticed when I was a kid. Or that’s a very strange coincidence that Dr. Loomis just happened to pull over at that phone booth by the railroad tracks exactly where he dumped the car. There are weird coincidences all throughout the movie, but that’s the great thing about movies. You see them and love them for that time period and they’re always special.

On his forthcoming film, Lords of Salem …

It’s not a super violent or bloody movie at all. It’s more of a bizarre, trippy, atmospheric movie with a European sensibility. I’d already done these gritty, violent movies, so I went in a different direction with it.

There is very little historical fact in the movie — let me rephrase that. There is no historical fact in the movie. The reality of the Salem Witch Trials is that 20 innocent people were executed. My movie plays off the idea that there was another group of six people who were secretly executed, but nobody knows about them. That’s the basic premise. The background elements are based on reality, but the story is not.

On which of George Romero’s zombie film masterpieces is better, Night of the Living Deador Dawn of the Dead …

I love both of them, but over the years I’ve found Dawn of the Dead to be more re-watchable, and I’ve seen it more times. I love Night of the Living Dead, though. When I was a kid, the first time I saw that movie, I was blown away. But there is something about Dawn of the Dead that I’ve really gravitated to more. The characters are better, the acting is better, technically it’s a better film — not that Night of the Living Dead is a bad film at all. But I love everything about Dawn of the Dead, and I think this might have something to do with what we were talking about before: I got to see it right when it came out, and that’s a very special time period for me now. By the time I got to see Night of the Living Dead for the first time it was already an older, classic movie, But with Dawn of the Dead I got to see when it was released, and that always makes it more exciting.

Twins of Evil Tour featuring Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson comes to Aaron’s Amphitheater on Thurs., Oct. 25. $31-$181. 7 p.m. 2002 Lakewood Way.