As he navigates the final weeks before the August 31 release of "Halloween," Rob Zombie is trapped in the mind of the horror icon with the soulless stare 24/7.
Re-launching Michael Myers for a new generation hasn't been easy, but the grisly auteur is convinced that his new "Halloween" bridges the gaps between remake and innovation, mythology and psychology, and murder and mass appeal (see "Rob Zombie Talks 'Halloween': 'A Bloodbath Doesn't Interest Me' "). This week, Rob called in from the flick's post-production headquarters for a candid conversation about horror geeks, improv acting and his fantasies of mowing down the cast of "Grey's Anatomy" with his car.
MTV: What's the latest on "Halloween"? How's it going?
Rob Zombie: It's going great, actually. I'm on the mixing stage right now working on the sound, which is the final thing you do.
MTV: So you're on track?
Zombie: Everything's going great, and we'll be done August 10th.
MTV: And you'll be going down to Comic-Con with some footage?
Zombie: Yeah, that's on Friday, I believe.
MTV: Are you ready to face the geeks?
Zombie: Well I've done it before, so I know what to expect. I pretty much get in and get out. I can't hang around much — if I walk the floor, people just mob you. It's so crowded, and people start asking for autographs and taking pictures, and you never really see anything. So I'll just do my thing and split.
MTV: When we visited your set, you spoke about walking the tightrope between faithfulness to John Carpenter's classic and creating something new. Were you able to pull it off?
Zombie: Oh, completely. Now that the movie is basically done, it worked out great. The film is 100 percent its own animal, but it has enough classic elements of the original to satisfy.
MTV: What was the one scene you had the most fun shooting?
Zombie: The first scene in the movie that we shot the first day of shooting. It's a simple scene of breakfast at the Myers' house with young Michael, his mom, the boyfriend and the sister. Everyone is yelling and screaming at each other. [He laughs.] I love it, because all you have to do is watch that scene for about 10 seconds and you just go, "Well, this certainly isn't John Carpenter's 'Halloween.' "
MTV: So they aren't sitting around and politely asking each other to pass the orange juice?
Zombie: No. [He laughs.] It's a pretty intense scene. It's just craziness.
MTV: Do scenes like that establish Michael's desire to kill?
Zombie: There's nothing that happens in the movie that explains why Michael is the way he is. I wanted to make it real, and the reality of the situation is that anyone who is like this is born that way, not created.
MTV: Do you believe that in real life? Like, what about the Columbine kids?
Zombie: No, no, that's different. A textbook psychotic has no understanding of what they're doing. Something like Columbine, those were kids pushed over the edge and became that — but they knew what they were doing. They were responding to something in their lives that made them do that. A true psychotic is someone who could seem very friendly and charming, then kill you and feel nothing for it: Henry Lee Lucas, Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer. There's no sense of understanding anything on a human level. The Columbine kids, those were kids who had obviously gone off the rails. That's different.
MTV: So when young Michael speaks, have you tried to inject that charisma?
Zombie: Well, yes, but not that he's charismatic. There just has to be a character that the audience will follow. ... The difference between this movie and the original is that this is the story of Michael Myers. The other movie was about Laurie Strode.
MTV: We've had a lot of movies come out lately with kids like Dakota Fanning or Cameron Bright being creepy and staring off into the distance.
Zombie: This isn't like that at all.
MTV: How is young Michael different from those guys?
Zombie: Because he seems normal. A psychotic can seem normal. I really did do research. ... A psychotic kid is a kid who hurts animals and has no real concept that what he's doing is wrong. How does it manifest itself at a young age and then turn into someone who does grow up to be a serial killer? They can't be disciplined. They start fires. They kill animals.
MTV: I heard you guys filmed the asylum scenes next to a "Grey's Anatomy" shoot. Did you freak Katherine Heigl out?
Zombie: We filmed at the V.A. Hospital in North Hills, which is just enormous. They could have been filming there or not filming there. I have no idea. Honestly, I wouldn't know the cast of "Grey's Anatomy" if I rammed them with my car.
MTV: In the video for "Never Gonna Stop," you dressed as Alex from "A Clockwork Orange." Now you're directing Malcolm McDowell himself (see "Exclusive: Malcolm McDowell, The New Dr. Loomis, Talks 'Halloween' "). Had he seen the clip?
Zombie: Truthfully, I never asked him. I did that so long ago. I forgot all about it!
MTV: I would think watching a vet like McDowell work with a newbie like Scout Taylor-Compton would be interesting (see " 'Halloween' Star Scout Taylor-Compton Calls Michael Myers 'Cute,' Talks Sequel").
Zombie: The most interesting pairing with Malcolm is Daeg Faerch, who plays young Michael. ... Daeg's 10, a great young actor, but he's good at playing — you know, kids play. I would tell Daeg or Malcolm to ask the other a question spontaneously during a take, just to see what they would say back.
MTV: Like what?
Zombie: Well, I had young Michael just asks Dr. Loomis, "How come you talk so funny?" Because the character is English, and it's never really addressed, and in reality this kid from Illinois would probably ask him that. Malcolm's candid response was that he just kind of laughed, because he didn't know what to say. It was a nice, human, real moment.
MTV: And that'll make it in the film?
Zombie: Yeah it did. That's definitely in the movie.
MTV: What's next for you? Will you take some time off?
Zombie: I'm trying to finish this movie, and then I'll probably go on tour starting in October. ... I have a live record coming out, and I'll just go back on tour. I just need a break. I need to clear my head after this movie, before I figure out what the next one is.
MTV: So being on the road, in a different city every night, is a vacation for you?
Zombie: Yeah! [He laughs.] It's so easy, compared to making a movie. It's fun. You go, you play. What else is there?
MTV: And you won't be coming up with ideas for "Halloween" sequels on the tour bus?
Zombie: No. I have no plans on watching them or making them. [He laughs.] My movie has a beginning, a middle and an end — and then I am done. Anything that comes after that? It will not involve me.
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