I’m really excited for our readers to check out The Lords of Salem when it is released. I enjoyed the film, but as I mentioned in my review yesterday, it’s going to be polarizing and I think there will be a plenty of interesting discussions on the movie.
I recently took part in an interview session with Rob Zombie, where he talks about his style of filmmaking, his influences, and his thoughts on the premiere screening:
How did the movie change from the original concept you had in mind?
Rob Zombie: The whole movie was this ever-evolving thing. I don’t like to stick to the script no matter what, because sometimes things change. The movie kept getting trippier and trippier, and I liked that because I didn’t know how many chances I’d get to make a movie where I could do whatever I wanted. No studio would want to make this movie.
As the movie progressed, I wanted to make sure that the vibe of the whole movie had impact. That’s how I’d feel when I’d watch a Lynch, Cronenberg, or Kubrick movie. There was this vibe you’d come away with, where you felt that you were in the movie rather than watching images that were spooky.
What are your thoughts on the audience reaction at the premiere screening? Did the movie play the way you intended it to?
Rob Zombie: As far as the audience reaction, it was so hard to gauge. No one knew what they were going to watch, but I feel like people were expecting this fast paced thing. I could feel this weird shift where people stopped trying to make funny comments and were locked into what it actually was. I was worried at first that they were going to start missing stuff, because that happens sometimes when you do test screenings.
I felt that half an hour in they got into the weird and the oppressive tone of the movie. When I’m really freaked out in a movie, it’s because of something subtle. There’s a lot of stuff like that in the movie and it felt like people were really paying attention.
Is the version that screened the final cut? Are you interested in making any changes?
Rob Zombie: This is probably the final cut. If I had more editing time, I might tweak things, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen. It may or may not be the final cut, but the final cut is usually when I run out of time.
Were there any scenes you loved that ended up getting cut from the script?
Rob Zombie: The whole beginning of the movie had a lot more that took place in 1692. Sid Haig and Michael Berryman were in the movie for two seconds, but there were a whole lot more with them that we never got to do. I’m kind of used to it not existing, but I wasn’t then. It’s amazing how quickly you forget and move onto the next thing. There are a lot of things we did film that I didn’t use and I kind of miss.
Why did you decide to make a movie that had such a change of pace from your earlier films?
Rob Zombie: Halloween 2 had in-your-face violence because I thought that movie had a certain expectation. I like European movies because it seems those audiences are a little more patient. Those movies are always slower, where over here, the studio system freaks out if something doesn’t happen every five minutes or if anything is confusing. Who cares if the audience is confused for five minutes? They’ll keep watching. Look at Inception… how huge was that? People were saying “what the f*** is going on?” for 2 hours and they love it. That just proved to me that audiences aren’t stupid and are thinking. People are much smarter than executives think they are.
Can you tell us about your commitment to visuals and atmosphere in The Lords of Salem over plot?
Rob Zombie: Those are the types of movies I like. I’m not a fan of super-complicated plots. Sometimes movies get so convoluted, that I zone out and all I see is screenwriters thinking they are so clever. I like movies that have time to breathe. One of my favorite movies is The Passenger, and that has half an hour Jack Nicholson trying to dig his car out of the sand. I was hoping that people would be patient with The Lords of Salem and would let it breathe and make it feel like it has to have a twist and turn. Maybe things are what they appear to be or are not what they appear to be…
You worked with Richard Lynch, but his scenes did not make it into the final film. Can you comment on his role in the movie and his passing?
Rob Zombie: The Richard Lynch situation is very sad. I really like Richard Lynch and he was phenomenal on Halloween. When he came to do The Lords of Salem, I could tell that he was not in good health. He was actually playing Jonathan Hawthorne. He was basically blind and couldn’t see. How were we going to do this? I tried working with him and tried to shoot around him, but it just didn’t work. I tried to use the footage and thought we might come back to it, but he passed away. Sadly, I had to cut around that and we re-wrote the movie so that Andrew Prine was playing Jonathan. He was originally a different character. It was very sad and I really liked Richard. He was a really nice guy and I’m glad we got to work together again.
How was you experience working with John 5 on the score?
Rob Zombie: I knew that I wanted this depressing piano or guitar that felt almost like Suspiria. I wanted that piece that was creepy and depressing, and John got it. Since he’s a songwriter, he understood that I wanted it to be memorable. Whether it was The Exorcist, Halloween, or Jaws, they had a hit song from pieces of the score.
After the creative freedom you experienced with The Lords of Salem, will you go a more independent route for future horror films?
Rob Zombie: I would never make a movie where I was being told what to do by somebody else. That’s why the CSI thing was such a nightmare. Sometimes studios will give you a lot of money and freedom, but sometimes they won’t. My sensibilities are in the more culty things anyway. That’s the stuff that I’ve always really loved and championed.
My competitive nature made me want to have a number #1 movie so I could say I did it. Now that I did it, I don’t care anymore. I’m happier doing this… This is the kind of stuff that I love.
Want to learn more about The Lords of Salem? Check out our recent coverage: