Terrifying audiences for years now has paid off well for Rob Zombie, and now he is back in Illinois to do it again.
The founding member of White Zombie returned from the grave to have a successful solo career with albums like Hellbilly Deluxe and Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor. Fans screamed in the aisles for movies such as House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects that he produced, directed, and wrote. His remake of Halloween even spawned a sequel leading him to a new upcoming film called 31.
His haunted house franchise debuted locally last year titled Great American Nightmare and rises again for a second offering.
We tracked down the Zombie to Villa Park and discussed mazes, movies and Midler.
Windy City Times: Hi, Rob. There has been some revamping to your Great American Nightmare since last year. What are the changes?
Rob Zombie: Well, all of the mazes are different. We had two running last year, with one in Arizona, so we moved the Arizona mazes to here. There is a Devil's Rejects maze, which was one of my favorites because it reminds me so much of making the film. That is here now and huge. Before you go through there is the police and the whole exterior to the house. There is a shoot-out and a whole thing before going inside.
We have a "31 maze based on a movie that is not out yet. You can still enjoy it without knowing the movie. There is a 3D Captain Spaulding wacky maze and even a secret fourth maze.
Last year, they said we were too explicit so we thought about toning it downbut instead just went for it. They can shut us down if they want. I would rather not do it than tone it down. I tried to make it as disgusting and perverted as possible!
WCT: The carnival rides are a nice touch to the layout of Nightmare [and there's] food even being served.
RZ: I wanted there to be a lot to do. Tonight is crazy with four mazes, a carnival, and me in concert. It will be hard for people to get it all in.
WCT: Your music playing outside seems to add to the whole scary experience, also.
RZ: I always like going to things and feeling immersed in a scenario. Why can't movies have nonstop trailers playing as we arrive? Why can't something happen before a concert starts? I hate sitting and waiting for something to happen.
WCT: Were you scared of clowns growing up?
RZ: I do remember seeing the Super 8 footage my dad took where we were going to meet Ronald McDonaldand I was not happy about that at all. I think I did hate clowns but I think everyone does sort of.
WCT: Isn't your new movie 31 about clown killers?
RZ: It is and it isn't. There is a clown aspect to it. It is about the most dangerous game with five people kidnapped and enclosed in a factory setting. They are hunted like sport. The hunters are different variations of clowns. What is worse than being hunted? Hunted by clowns!
WCT: It was crowd-funded?
RZ: Partially. I wish I could have completely crowd funded it but there was an aspect to it that was definitely crowd funded.
WCT: You really had to push to have your movies made in the past from what I have read.
RZ: It is great because getting them made is not easy, the financing and everything. To have them come out is rewarding. Besides Halloween that was popular from the beginning, my other films have grown and gotten more popular. Especially House of 1000 Corpses when it finally was released was a moderate success at best and now it is a crazy thing where people love it.
WCT: I heard something about a new Starz series.
RZ: We are in pre-production to this new Starz series called Trapped. That is with me and Mila Kunis co-producing. One of the writers from Arrested Development is writing it. It is a dark comedy about this kid who hates his family so much that he runs away to join a cult. Isn't that hilarious? [Laughs]
WCT: What happened to your film Broad Street Bullies, about the Philadelphia Flyers?
RZ: That is a project that I worked on for a long time and it stalled. For the last 15 years, every movie that I think I am making next is never the one that I make next every single time. Like many directors when things are announced it can come to a dead end. Sometimes the financing falls apart or people don't do it when they say they will.
[The movie] 31 was a by-product of Broad Street Bullies falling apart. I wasted two years then wanted to do something else. It may come back. Sometimes it takes 10 years to get a movie made.
WCT: Is there anywhere you won't go with a movie?
RZ: No; I never consciously think that way. I don't do something and think it is too much. I think the exact opposite, "Why didn't I do more?" I can push it further. Schedules are so hectic with these things that I don't usually have time to stop and think.
WCT: I heard you were influenced by some famous gay people, like Elton John and Queen, [regarding] your music.
RZ: Oh, yeah. I loved Elton John and finally got to meet him a few years ago. There are only a couple of iconic people from my childhood that I haven't gotten to meet. He was one of them. I was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony because I was inducting Alice Cooper. Elton John was there inducting Leon Russell. I was just in the hallway standing around and talking to Bette Midler for a second.
WCT: No way! Her concert was really good this past summer.
RZ: She is amazing. She said she liked my pants. She is so tiny. Anyway, I saw Elton John in the corner of the room and he was waving at somebody. It turned out it was me. He came up and gave me a big hug. He just started talking to me and was really cool.
WCT: Your sixth record is done?
RZ: It is in the bag. I didn't put it out now because I finish the new movie in November. The new album should be out in February. It was too many things colliding at once.
WCT: What is a common misconception about you?
RZ: Probably everything. I try to be upfront and honest about everything. I don't try to concoct an image to live up to. I try to give the straight answer but the Internet makes things interesting. Yesterday, I went to a PETA event and people thought I was there to be cool. Noit is because I am a vegan and I believe in it.
Run out to 1033 N. Villa Ave., Villa Park, for Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare with select dates until Nov 1. Visit www.GreatAmericanNightmare.com for tickets and details .