Rob Zombie talks horror and more before Halloweenie Roast in Tampa

Published Oct. 25, 2012

If you were to guess what a Rob Zombie Halloween movie marathon might look like, you might imagine it'd be made up of the type of modern, violent cult classics that he specializes in.

However, he said he's much more likely to watch the Universal horror classics — films like Frankenstein and Dracula — because they evoke the feeling of being a kid when it was Halloween.

"Not so much newer stuff, because that stuff will always be in rotation on the bus — just anything from the '30s or '40s, that's always what we're watching," Zombie said by phone recently.

These days, the metal musician once known for songs such as Dragula divides his time between making music and directing his own horror films like The Devil's Rejects and Halloween II.

Now he will come to Tampa to play alongside Marilyn Manson at 98 Rock's inaugural Halloweenie Roast on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre.

And although that double bill might sound like a fever dream of high school goth and metal kids in the '90s, Zombie is arguably doing his most relevant work now. His new film The Lords of Salem premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival to some of the best reviews of his career, and he has called his unreleased new album his favorite thing he's ever written.

Zombie said he thinks the songs turned out "more interesting, more complex, just more bizarre and strangely catchy in a different sort of way" because of less pressure from a diminished music industry.

"I think now there's a freedom, a subconscious freedom, because the record industry is basically in the toilet," he said. "So you don't really go in to record records anymore with the thought of selling records because you're not going to sell records. Nobody sells records. It doesn't matter."

Yet Zombie said he doesn't plan on playing any of the new songs on tour — instead performing a mixture of crowd favorites and older tracks, and wowing audiences with a mix of pyrotechnics, video and other visual effects.

Although he's always liked creating such a spectacle, Zombie said he feels it's also important to make everyone packed into the concert feel like they're getting a show.

"And with the size of places that we're playing now — when you move into arenas and stuff … you have to find another way to reach the guy all the way in the back," he said. "Obviously, that's why I like the big show."

Zombie has also begun screening The Lords of Salem. The film follows a DJ (Zombie's wife, Sherri Moon) who plays a record that unleashes a coven of ancient witches.

He said that his goal with this movie was to create a trippy, evocative experience like Stanley Kubrick's The Shining or 2001: A Space Odyssey.

"When you come out of a movie like 2001: A Space Odyssey, you felt like you were in space the whole time," Zombie said. "You didn't feel like you were watching a movie about space — you felt like you were in space."

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The Lords of Salem will also be more subdued than his other blunter, more blood-splattered movies, he said.

"It was just more of an atmospheric-type movie, as opposed to a very in-your-face movie," Zombie said. "The last movie did that."

That "last movie" was Halloween II, the pitch-black, shockingly violent sequel to his remake of John Carpenter's 1976 classic. Although the film has since developed a cult following, it received a largely negative reaction from critics, which Zombie attributes to them having a "rulebook" for how the stoic slasher Michael Myers should act.

Zombie will move out of his own comfort zone — the horror genre — with his upcoming film Broad Street Bullies, which chronicles the infamously violent Philadelphia Flyers hockey team of the '70s.

"My natural inclination as a person is if someone tells me there's rules, I want to do the exact opposite thing because I think that's just a bullshit way of doing things," he said.