The underworld of Rob Zombie has been filled with disappointments in the past year. Not only was his debut feature film, "House of 1,000 Corpses," dropped by Universal and MGM before landing at Lions Gate, his dream of shooting a video for the Dixie Chicks was shot down in flames because of commitments to Ozzfest.
That's right, country's cutest pop gals liked Zombie's video for Ozzy's "Dreamer" and asked the nocturnal beast to lend a hand — or at least a severed limb.
"That's the kind of thing I find really exciting," Zombie revealed. "Directing heavy metal videos is kind of boring, and it's exactly what people expect of me. Unfortunately I couldn't justify skipping a week of [Ozzfest] shows to do the video. But I'd love to take on something like Faith Hill or Norah Jones — just do something really different than what I'm known for."
Zombie's desire to break from the norm explains why the soundtrack for "House of 1,000 Corpses" features a cover of the Commodores' "Brickhouse," recorded with him, Lionel Richie and rapper Trina (see "Rob Zombie Prepping New LP, Movie; Builds A Brick House With Lionel Richie"). It also explains why the album contains other non-metallic fare like Helen Kane's "I Wanna Be Loved by You" — better known as the Betty Boop theme — and Slim Whitman's "I Remember You" (see "Rob Zombie Swears 'Corpses' Will Drop; Soundtrack To Include Slim Whitman").
"I really wanted to put songs that don't seem marketable at all into the movie," Zombie said. "I think that's what makes it special because you retain the element of the movie when you hear them. [For example], after you've seen 'Clockwork Orange,' you don't hear 'Singin' in the Rain' quite the same way. It takes on this whole new demented vibe. When you put this really beautiful song 'I Remember You' against the backdrop of all these horrific murders it's totally demented, instead of [using] a scary metal track, which just seems too typical."
Another reason Zombie used an unconventional assortment of songs in the film is because he has too much respect for the history of the motion picture soundtrack to see his own score sullied by modern Hollywood conventions.
"I love cool old soundtracks like the John Carpenter stuff and the stuff this Italian band Goblin did [in Dario Argento films]," Zombie said. "Soundtracks have just bit the dust because they're now just a bunch of popular songs that aren't [even] in the movie and have nothing to do with the movie. They're just gimmicks that basically suck."
Not that Zombie fans will be disappointed with his soundtrack. In addition to tracks by Whitman, Kane, the Commodores and the Ramones, the "House of 1,000 Corpses" CD contains movie dialogue and eerie instrumental film tracks like the echoey piano number "Stuck in the Mud," the percussive "Into the Pit" and the operatic, electronic clamor of "Scarecrow Attack."
"House of 1,000 Corpses" also contains six new Zombie songs including "Brickhouse 2003," but even these are removed from Rob's past campy industrial metal songs. Although "Everybody Scream" features Zombie growls, throbbing bass, scribbley guitar and monster movie samples, the title track, a disturbing cross between Marilyn Manson and Tom Waits, sounds like sleazy, stealthy music for undead strippers. "P---- Liquor" is a horn-fueled romp, and "Run Rabbit Run" could be an Ministry outtake from Filth Pig.
Zombie says he's happy with the songs, which feature a variety of musicians including Tommy Lee, but he isn't exactly thrilled they're on the soundtrack.
"Truthfully, the reasons I did the songs was because I didn't have enough money to buy music for the movie," he said. "And so I had to do the songs to raise the money in order to go and sell the picture. So, me doing songs was just something financially I had to do to get the money. I went, 'Well, I don't want to do the songs I normally do because they're not appropriate for the film,' so I tried to make them trashy like the Cramps — with really crap, garagey drum kicks and twangy guitars, and record everything really low-fi over the picture because my typical type of music would have [sounded] too polished."
Aside from "House of 1,000 Corpses," Zombie recently recorded a song called "Reload" with former Nine Inch Nails keyboardist Charlie Clouser for the "Matrix Reloaded" soundtrack.
"That was kind of fun because we hadn't really worked together since the White Zombie days, and we put together this crazy death-robot-disco-hell thing."
Now that "Corpses" is in the (body) bag, Zombie has dived into writing a new movie, which he's 90 percent finished. He described it as "totally different" from "Corpses," adding that "it's sort of in the horror world, but it's not a horror movie."
And in the next month, Zombie hopes to start writing songs for the next Rob Zombie album, though at this point he has no idea how he wants the disc to sound.
"I just know that I don't want it to sound like all the old stuff," he said. "I can never go into the studio with a plan because it never works. If you go in there thinking, 'Oh, I want it to be really heavy,' then you may have a soft song and that will be your best song. So I just go in there and whatever happens, happens."