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EXCL: Rob Zombie Discusses Crowdfunding New Film, “31”

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In an undoubtedly polarizing move (nothing new), Rob Zombie is launching a crowdfunding campaign for his upcoming Halloween-set feature, 31. Aiming to engage directly with fans, and likely in the interest of producing a warped genre vision on his terms, Zombie has set up shop at RZ-31 where concept art, videos and info on the film, as well as the requisite contribution rewards (including props from past films, lifetime passes to his shows and more) whet the appetites of would-be supporters and fans. In an exclusive talk with FANGORIA, Zombie discusses his decision to utilize the increasingly popular, if highly criticized, method of funding and what’s in store for 31.

Positioning 31 as a film for gore-hounds, Zombie describes the feature as “a fast paced, mean dirty film for those who like it rough.” In the film, “Five random people are kidnapped on the five days leading up to Halloween and held hostage in a place called Murder World. While trapped inside this man-made Hell, they must fight to survive playing the most violent game known to man… a game called 31. 31 has no rules. 31 has no boundaries. It is ever so simple. Do whatever you can do to kill your opponent before they kill you. Keep this up for 12 hours and freedom is yours. Who are the opponents? Well… a group of vile, filthy, blood-thirsty clowns known as THE HEADS. They come in all shapes and sizes and each grows nastier than the last.”

Our discussion follows:

FANGORIA: Last time we talked new movies, it wasn’t about horror. It was about hockey pucks. What happened to the hockey film?

ROB ZOMBIE: Well, that got all held up in legal wrangling, I guess. Because, when you have a true story you need the life rights to everybody, lots of things that needed to be secured because I didn’t own the rights to anything. So what I definitely didn’t want to do was sit there for a year and wait to see if it would happen. I had devoted a lot of time to it already so I was like, “okay let me move on for a while…”

FANG: ..and do something radical in the form of a crowd-funded horror film?

ZOMBIE: Yeah.

FANG: It seems to me that your strongest films are the ones in which you are free to explore your vision without interference. HALLOWEEN 2 is in many respects a radical film and LORDS OF SALEM most certainly is. Was this the idea behind crowd funding for 31? To have complete creative control of the work?

ZOMBIE: Well, I’ve kind of always had control, actually. I mean, I’ve had studios interfere in different ways and in different extremes. LORDS OF SALEM was the only film in which I technically had 100% creative control written into the contract. So in a way, yeah, once you have it, you can’t go back. I mean, again, I’ve had control, but I always had to fight for it and sometimes fighting is just exhausting. Once you get too many chefs in the kitchen it hurts the vision.

31artcFANG: You have your Captain Spaulding and there are, of course, a long line of “killer clown” films, many of them considered classics. Can you discuss where your clown killers fit in to this pantheon?

ZOMBIE: The clown thing is a device. They’re clowns, sure, but they don’t need to be clowns. The idea came about when I was at The Great American Nightmare, my Halloween thing. There were some people working there dressed as bloody clowns chasing people around and while I found it funny, I was amused by just how terrified some people were finding it. And that started the idea. It happened in front of me. I’ve always loved clowns, right from early Lon Chaney movies on up. I created Spaulding from that obviously, but this is a different kind of thing entirely.

FANG: LORDS OF SALEM abandoned strict narrative in favor of a more abstract approach. How did letting loose like that affect your filmmaking process?

ZOMBIE: Well, I’m never sure what approach I’ll take to any of my movies until I get into them. And I don’t know if the rules I applied to SALEM would apply to 31. LORDS OF SALEM was not a film that required a dirty, nasty, guerilla style of filmmaking; rather it needed a lush, surreal palette. Some people really loved SALEM, some didn’t get it. I love movies that don’t spell everything out. This one will not be like SALEM, but it won’t spell everything out either.

FANG: FANGORIA just released the Rob Zombie special issue. Our choice to do this magazine wasn’t based on your movies exclusively. Personally, I only like a few of your films and was one of the jerks who heavily goofed on your first HALLOWEEN. But I have always appreciated your vision and how you blast your persona across myriad mediums. But because you do have such a strong persona, do you ever feel creatively shackled when making movies?

ZOMBIE: Actually, I’m rarely conscious about giving the audience what they want and I think it just happens naturally, as part of the process, that they feel like something I’d make. I just create what I want to create and do what I want to do at that moment. I don’t feel you should have that relationship with your audience. Again, some people will like the work, some won’t. But I don’t know any artist or performer that you can follow for decades and love all the work they’ve done. It just doesn’t happen. If you give the audience what you think they want all the time, they really get bored. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you only want to fuck with them, well then you’re a douchebag! There are a lot of movies I love now, that I hated when I first saw them. I didn’t get them at the time, but once you remove something from its time, you can see it clearly for what it is, not what you wanted or expected it to be.

FANG: Especially a horror film. I always say you need 10-20 years to properly appreciate a horror film.

ZOMBIE: I think it’s 10 years, yes, I agree. That’s the test. Everyone now comes up to me and says “man, I loved HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES. This is my favorite movie, the best movie ever made, it’s a classic.” 10 years ago those people said “that movie was the biggest piece of shit I ever suffered through.” But for an entire generation, Captain Spaulding is their Freddy Krueger. See, what happens is public opinion disappears. Especially now, with people conscious of box office and the internet dictating that the only opinion that matters is a negative one, it’s fucked with everything. Many of the movies we love now, were failures upon release but we don’t know or care about that because we weren’t there 20 or 30 years ago. There was also a time when you’d see a movie and you couldn’t even find another person who knew what you were talking about. I remember seeing MAD MAX and telling people about how awesome it was, and nobody had any clue what I was saying. Now, there’s this new MAD MAX movie and it’s a pre-programmed monster made by design.

FANG: Back to 31. You know you’ll be opening yourself to criticism from fans for doing a campaign, you’re used to that. But have you ever supported another artist’s crowd-funding project?

ZOMBIE: I actually have, yeah. I’ve often seen people doing something, people I know or don’t and I try to help them however I can. Here, with 31, we have a lot of great ways fans can be involved in this film, so many ways they can be part of it. I’m really excited to jump in. Everything’s moving ahead well; next week, we start location scouting. This movie feels like maybe the first time where what I’m dreaming up might just wholly sync up with what kind of movie my fans might want. We may just meet perfectly at this point.

FANG: Last question: Will Nicolas Cage be in this movie?

ZOMBIE: [Laughs] Not that I know of…yet. But yeah, that would be good! I don’t know who is in it at the moment, but yeah that would be cool.

Top Photo by Rob Fenn

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About the author
Chris Alexander
Author, film critic, teacher, musician and filmmaker (not to mention failed boxer) Chris Alexander is the editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine. He got his first professional break as the “Schizoid Cinephile” in the pages of Canadian horror film magazine RUE MORGUE before making the move to FANGO in 2007. His words have appeared in The Toronto Star, Metro News, Wired, Montage, The Dark Side, Tenebre and many other notable publications and he appears regularly on international television and radio.
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