Quantcast Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN 2 (H2) Icons Of Fright interview

Rob Zombie!!!
A few months back, ICONS OF FRIGHT were invited down to the set to see the making of Rob Zombie's eagerly anticipated HALLOWEEN sequel H2. With 3 days left in the tightly scheduled shoot at the time of our visit, it was difficult for Zombie to break away to chat about his intentions with the latest film in the HALLOWEEN series. (Due in theaters August 28th!) Now in the midst of post-production, he took a quick break from editing to fill us in on how the project has evolved since last we spoke to him. (Click HERE for that interview!) Read on for our chat with Rob Zombie! - by Robg. - 5/09

One of the things I really appreciate in the new HALLOWEEN is the fact that you’re the first filmmaker in the entire series to actually treat Michael Myers as a character. What exactly were the origins of your story for HALLOWEEN 2? Was it the idea of getting to portray Michael as a character this time around? Or was it a chance to do a lot of the stuff you weren’t able to on the first movie? Or maybe a combination of the 2?

I guess a combination of the 2. The main thing that made me excited about HALLOWEEN 2 or H2 or whatever the fuck we call it… um, was just that I was over the baggage of whatever John Carpenter had done before. That baggage was gone. And I could pick up the story from where I left it and go anywhere with it. I felt that where the movie ended – truthfully, with the last movie, the character of Laurie Strode is kind of a boring character. But I thought by the end of the movie when she’s covered in blood and she shoots Michael that she becomes much more interesting. So, I was very interested to follow the path of what would’ve happened to her after that night. And how she would be. And how Sheriff Brackett would be. And how Michael would be.
The characters were all interesting to me, but now I could really get away from worrying about Michael coming home to Haddonfield and establishing who he is and I could really focus on very character oriented details with these people. That’s what I really liked about it. It’s totally fresh, it’s totally different. It’s not like anything we’ve seen before and I think it makes for a much deeper movie. It’s kind of like what I did with THE DEVIL’S REJECTS from HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES. The first one was kind of cartoony, here it is, and then I thought for the 2nd one, OK, well now we can really do something with these characters.

Which is why I like REJECTS, because it kicks off running right off the bat.

Yeah, so this is kind of the same thing.
Now that you don’t have the remake baggage with this entry in the series, and you don’t have to follow the story beats that Carpenter had established in the original, what was your working relationship like with Tyler Mane on this one? Was it a different approach for Tyler playing this version of Michael Myers this time around? Did you have more freedom with him on H2? You guys know each other fairly well, so obviously you have a rapport as friends, but what was the working relationship like for this film?
Well, the working relationship with Tyler – Tyler is great. What was great about this movie in general was that now I was friends with everybody and that goes a long way to taking things to another level. When we made the first movie, I just met Malcolm, I just met Scout, I just met Danielle. I didn’t have a real deep rapport with them. But then 2 years later, you’re friends with people, you know them, you can take things to another level that sometimes you just can’t get to, because you just don’t know the people well enough! You don’t have the time, unfortunately. The way they schedule movies now, you don’t have the time to get to know people and get to rehearse with them, it’s like you’re just thrown in there. Sometimes meeting people literally for the first time, on set, on the day that you’re working. Which really sucks!
Because you don’t get to know them in a way that you know how to push their buttons or get their strengths or their weaknesses, you’re just not aware of it. This time, with Tyler & with everybody, it was much better. What I felt with Tyler last time – it’s easy to underestimate what he did. Like, you have a guy, he’s not talking, you’re putting that mask on him. We’re pretty much taking away all of his tools as an actor at that point. (Laughs) And I still think that he conveys a lot. And in this movie, what I tried to do was strip away even more of those restrictions with him, so that he could make Michael more of a full blown character. To me, that’s what’s interesting. I know some people think “Oh, Michael should always be the shape. He should be this mysterious figure in the shadows.” I figure, well you’ve got 8 movies of that!

Exactly, and this is your version of Michael.

Let’s do something different! And for me, growing up – the movies I grew up on, like FRANKENSTEIN. The monster was terrifying, but there was a soul of some sort to the monster, no matter how brain damaged he was. That’s the way I always sort of saw Michael Myers is telling it like it was FRANKENSTEIN or something.
One of the things I loved that I saw on set was the new “half-mask”, the idea of seeing part of Tyler’s face and Michael Myers face at the same time. It was something Wayne Toth was explaining to us about how you just wanted to do something different. You said, “I love Tyler’s face, we should show more of Tyler’s face.” The reason I like it is because it looks like the mask is peeling off and there’s almost no real difference between Michael’s actual face and the mask. It’s still just as blank and expressionless as the mask is. Very creepy looking.
I think what’s going to be funny when people see it – I know that people think they know what it looks like, but when you see it in the movie and the way it’s lit, it’s just like you said, you almost can’t tell the mask is missing. It blends into his actual face in such a weird way. It doesn’t look like the “Phantom Of The Opera” where it’s half human/half mask. Because Tyler’s skin is all cruddy and the mask is cruddy. We definitely have the same mask in the movie, and then we have the sort of crumbling mask. It’s almost like – I wanted to make the mask significant. Because in the other movies, the mask is just a random mask. Michael broke into a hardware store and stole that mask, it doesn’t mean anything. There’s no significance to it, it just happens to be a cool mask he’s wearing. But I’ve always tried to make it that it’s significant and you can see in this movie as the mask deteriorates, so does essentially Michael Myers psyche.
Scout Taylor-Compton had a lot to do with Laurie Strode in this one because you gave her a different character arc. When we spoke to her on set, even she said she had no idea what she was in for until she read the script on the plane. What are the biggest differences with Laurie Strode on this movie as opposed to the first one?
Well, the biggest difference was that Laurie Strode in the first movie was the good girl who gets into this bad situation. And then we find out Michael Myers is her brother. In this movie, she is the survivor of a horrible event. Her parents are dead, her friends are dead. She’s battle scarred from it all. So she’s much, much, much darker of a character and what I wanted to do, what I thought was interesting – in the first movie, it was more like Annie Brackett was outgoing and Laurie was a little bit shy.
They both survived a horrible event. People’s personalities change after a horrible event. Some people become withdrawn, which (in H2) became Annie, and some people get that sort of “Fuck it, I don’t give a shit” attitude about their life, and they get kind of the exact opposite. And that’s where I took the Laurie character. She’s sort of out there. She’s re-inventing herself with a new set of friends and a new way of acting and being. And ya know, you wonder through the whole movie is her state of mind deteriorating because she’s related to Michael? If you have a sibling that’s psychotic, do you share those same genes? That same state of mind? Did the craziness manifest itself in Michael Myers when he was 10, but it waited until she was 18? That’s what I found interesting about it.
One of the things I saw on set that got me really excited were a lot of these dream sequence scenes and characters. I love some of the stuff I saw that you and Wayne Toth had put together for those sequences. On top of the fact that you’re incorporating a lot of Halloween, the holiday this time too.
I wanted the movie to have a lot of visually surreal imagery too. That was one thing – the last one was very much like Michael in a suburban neighborhood. That’s pretty much what you get. That’s what the HALLOWEEN world was, but with this one I just wanted to take it further and be able to just trip it out and have some stuff that if I showed you certain stills from the movie, you would think, “What is this? Some classic gothic horror movie? How does this figure in?” That’s what was really interesting for me was tying all these bizarre worlds together and just trying to take it to a new level visually and giving it more elements of classic horror so people don’t go “Oh, it’s a ‘slasher’ movie because it’s a guy with a knife.” I wanted it to be something more then that. Plus, I really wanted to add more Halloween, the holiday myth to it, so it was much richer in that vibe.
You’re giving us stuff that we’ve never seen in the HALLOWEEN franchise before, which is why I was excited to get glimpses of some of that stuff on set. As far as other characters in the film, I did a panel last month at the LA FANGO with Brad Dourif whom I’m a huge fan of. There’s one moment in the first film that just sums him up. It’s the moment when Sheriff Brackett walks in and finds Annie battered and bruised. His reaction, he’s just so good in it. He expressed at the panel that he had a lot more to do this time around in H2. So, what’s Sheriff Brackett like in this HALLOWEEN?
Yeah, Brad really was able to in this film – That really goes back to what I was saying before. Certain people and actors are easier to get to know then others, and Brad is… a little trickier to get to know. So on this film we could take what we were going to do together much deeper, and it was easier to get an incredible performance from him. He even said it, “Thank you for kicking my ass the whole way through.” Because he is spectacular in this movie. He really understood the role of the single dad with the daughter who’s got problems. He really embraced it. He wasn’t just the Sheriff. He wore the scars from his life on his face too, because in this one, yeah, I left his hair long, gray and scruffy, he’s the Sheriff who is over it. He’s very, very tired. Life has beaten him down, he’s done in. And Brad really, really embraced the role and really ran with it. He’s a key figure. He’s not a background character. He is a complete leading force in the movie.
That’s great because I always enjoy Brad and his take on the Brackett character, and obviously I assume he can’t be too happy that Michael’s back, so I’m curious to see what you do with him. One of the other things I wanted to talk about was that you had a new Director Of Photography on this movie, Brandon Trost, who also recently shot CRANK 2. You used Phil Parmet on your previous 2 films, so what was the look you were going for with Brandon on this? How’d it differ from your working relationship with Phil?
Well, me and Phil had a great working relationship on THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. I love Phil, he’s a great guy. We really worked well together, and I feel we really accomplished what we set out to do on that movie. But just… sometimes you can’t explain why things go good and you can’t explain why things go bad. Something on HALLOWEEN just didn’t click anymore. We kept butting heads. Not getting along. It just basically ended our relationship, for whatever reason. What I was trying to accomplish was not happening and I was not happy. It was just a mess. HALLOWEEN’s a funny one, because DEVIL’S REJECTS was just one of those movies where everything went right all the time. HALLOWEEN was one of those movies where everything went wrong all the time. If it could go wrong, it did go wrong.
HALLOWEEN 2 was one of those movies where everything just went right. It’s just weird, it just happens, and you can’t explain why it happens. HALLOWEEN 2 looks awesome. And it shows in the movie, because when things are going right, it just clicks. Brandon was great! I met with a lot of DP’s and I just clicked with Brandon. He’s kinda young and willing to do anything. He doesn’t have pre-conceived ideas about “Well, that’s not how you do it.” He just had a way of working that’s exactly how I like to work and I just wanted to make the movie more dirty and gritty and real. For me, I thought HALLOWEEN got a little too glossy.
And some of the grit that I thought was essential to the horror wasn’t there for me. It always kind of bothered me, so for this one I wanted to take it back and make it more like – you’re watching it, and you feel like you’re watching a real thing. In the aftermath with Laurie in the Myers house with the police where you feel like you’re watching a documentary. And it’s really disturbing that way! Because you get swept up in the reality of it. What if Michael Myers and all of this was real?
When I was on set, I caught Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis pulling up in a limo, fresh from a new book tour. Did this guy actually go and write another book and exploit the events of the first movie?!

He’s rich and famous and loving every minute of it in this movie. That’s why… the Weird Al Yankovic thing, that’s why that came into it. I wanted a scene that was the epitome of where Dr. Loomis went. I thought, what could be better then having Dr. Loomis on a talk show like a Jimmy Kimmel type show, and he’s sitting there on the couch with another guest just trying to talk like he’s a serious doctor, when he’s a complete Hollywood phony. And that’s when I was like, who could we get that would be such a recognizable person to people that would be the complete opposite of who a serious “doctor” should be sitting with? And that’s when Weird Al came up, I thought perfect!
He’s a huge, completely recognizable celebrity, but you can not sit there and try to be a serious doctor of psychology with Weird Al Yankovic at your elbow. And it worked out great. I know it seemed ridiculous when the news broke, but when you see it in the movie…

Well, I love Weird Al! (Laughs) Did you know Weird Al beforehand?
No, I didn’t. It was just one of those things that came up. Chris Hardwick who’s playing the talk show host, I was like “Chris, I need to find somebody that is that sort of personality.” And I knew Chris knew TV people and I knew he was friends with Bob Saget, so I was thinking “What about someone like Bob Saget?” And he was like, “What about Weird Al?” And I thought, “Weird Al. Yes!” He called Weird Al and he said “Fuck yeah!” Got on a plane and was there the next day.

That’s amazing. (Laughs)

Yeah, it was awesome.
One of the things that’s come up over the course of the last several years – people always ask you if you’re ever going to do a director’s cut of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES. Is that something you’re even interested in doing at this point? Would you rather leave it as is? Or would you want to tweak with it one day?

It’ll probably never happen, just because… I don’t know. (Laughs) It’s sort of sitting there and I don’t know if there’s really the demand for it, or if I’d have the time for it. Who knows? You never know. Maybe in a couple of years when it’s the 10th anniversary of that movie and if I have time, and Lionsgate feels like putting up some money to do the edit, we’ll do an edit.

I don’t know if the current version of Lionsgate would want to do it! (Laughs)

Yeah, Lionsgate’s very much changed in the last little bit. It’s a totally different company.
Before you started this movie, you finished your last record and put it on the shelf to concentrate on H2. So is the record still set to come out at the end of the summer? Are you going to jump right back into touring?

Well, we’ll probably put the record out in September and go out on tour. Yeah, that’s the plan.

Well, thanks so much for chatting. I don’t want to keep you, because I want you to finish editing HALLOWEEN 2 so I can see it! So thanks so much for your time.

I genuinely appreciate what you try to do with your films, and I know you talked with Tim Sullivan about this last time. Guys like me and him are just happy that there are new horror flicks coming out! I try not to be as judgmental as most “critics”, because after all, it’s just entertainment. And it’s all meant to entertain.

That’s cool, and Tim and I talk about that all the time, like “When did everybody become… such a dick about everything!” (Laughs) It’s unbelievable, anytime you put anything out there, it becomes “and here’s 900 people saying why it sucks!” (Laughs)

Even though they don’t know what it is and they haven’t seen it yet. And it’s just… I don’t know. It’s a weird culture. People take everything… That’s the thing. Once something is said, it just becomes law, even if it’s completely unfounded! You can’t put the cat back in the bag once it’s out. And every rumor starts with just somebody saying “I heard THIS.” I remember someone recently said, “I heard they’re going to computer generate Daeg’s face onto the new kid.” I’m like, “You heard that?” What kind of super technology do you think we’re working with here? It gets so silly.

The point being – I appreciate the films you’ve done so far.

Well, thanks man. It’s good to hear that.

I’m sure we’ll cross paths soon enough. Best of luck to you on all of it.

Cool, right on man. Take care.

Check out our 4 part set visit report on HALLOWEEN 2 below!

- by Robg. 4/09

- by Robg. 4/09

- by Robg. 4/09

- by Robg. 4/09

Check out our previous interviews with ROB ZOMBIE!
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