The road to getting House of 1000 Corpses released has been a long
one, from Universal to MGM to finally Lion's Gate.
Did you ever have
any inkling that it might be so difficult to get it released?
There's no way to tell. there was nothing hinting at that as i was making the film. universal was happy with the film. they were happy with it. we shot it on their backlot, so they basically knew what was going on. they also had put trailers in theatres. there were trailers running. there was no way to predict what would then take place.
Were there ever any moments where you thought it would never come
no, not really. even though there were times where it seemed like that, i always felt that as soon as i started thinking that way, i was screwed. so i always pushed ahead like it was going to come out.
When you sat down to write the film, what did you draw inspiration
from? Everyone cites it as directly influenced by The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, but there really is a lot more going on...
That's the obvious one that people like to say. but to me, it's just 1970s horror in general. i guess chainsaw is the most infamous of that time period, so everyone mentions it. rocky horror picture show had just as much to do with it as texas chainsaw massacre. last house on the left or dawn of the dead - there was a vibe that these movies that i was trying to capture because i loved it so much as a kid.
Were there any studio attempts to make Corpses a more
with all the hubbub that has been going on lately, you can't show r-rated movie previews on tv after a certain hour. "oh, it's pg-13? we can show it all afternoon! we can put it on "trl". they can play it on mtv!" but then, "oh, it's r? we can't show it." it is just a quest for a larger audience. as soon as you try to make something so specific, something that appeals to everybody, you by nature take away what is special about it. i would always use the joke: "hey, we could appeal to more people with porno movies if we just took out all that nudity and sex out of them. then we could show them on tv."
Did you have final cut on the film?
the mpaa has the final cut, because ultimately everything filters through them. If you had free range to do any horror movie you wanted and could show anything you wanted, when does personal restraint come in, where you say, "Maybe I'm just being gory for gory's sake?" How do you find the balance between being shocking and going overboard? you just know. i'm not even that big a fan of gore. people seem to think i am, but when i see something that's gory for the sake of being gory, i get bored by it. when it really plays into the story, it doesn't even have to be that bad. but, "how long is the camera going to linger on the eyeball being squished in that guy's head?" what am i watching? this is stupid.
what about, say the friday the 13th movies?
their "creative deaths" were specifically advertised and targeted to attract an audience... yeah, it was like, "there are going to be thirteen different ways people die!" i never really thought of it that way. my movie got that reputation, but i didn't think i was making it like that at all.
What do you think about the last ten years or so for horror?
Has it become stale or too safe? i think it's become pretty stale. i'm not sure why it went that way. there was definitely a huge horror boom in the 80s, and then it seems like the bottom fell out and it never really came back. not until seven came out, as a crime drama or whatever you want to call it, did people start taking it seriously again.
Were you gung-ho when you were asked to make a sequel, or did you
have reservations about it?
truthfully, it wasn't my dream project at the moment because i had just spent so much time doing the first one, dealing with so much hell, that to go right back to that world - oh boy. but at the same time, it's so hard to get a movie made, that if someone's willing to make a movie, you have to be a lunatic to turn it down.
What are your feelings on movies like Scream?
i didn't really enjoy any of those movies. they give off a vibe where i always felt that everyone in the movie and the whole vibe of the movie was: "we're too good to be in a horror movie, so we're going to parody a horror movie." it's almost like actors in horror movies now are too good-looking. it's hard to relate to them in a sense, whereas in corpses and films of the 70's, i think they were more accessible. and that ruins the vibe. what was cool about those 70s horror movies was that for the most part, they were made with nameless actors. and even when they weren't name actors, they might possibly get killed or die. now you just know by the casting. you go, "there's no way this person is going to die. nothing bad is going to happen to her because she's the star of that tv show." the one-sheets are the best indications of what happened. the one-sheet used to be of the villain, the monster, all about that guy. then all these one-sheets became these glamour shots of the cast standing in descending order of importance, like it was a modeling competition. and that's a fucking horror movie? I'm assuming when you started talking publicity for Corpses, you went in and told them yours wasn't going to look like a Scream poster. (laughs) yeah. i just did the poster myself and gave it to them, saying, "this is what i want it to be." i don't think they liked it at first. i wanted it to look raw and rough. i don't want a slick, glossy poster. there was something about the cheap quality that made it cool.
Was it hard to find actors who were willing
to go to the level required by the script?
not really. they were definitely willing to do anything. the hardest part of casting was casting the "normal" people. i had a very strong idea of who i wanted to play the other parts, or at least the type. so that was easy. but when it came to casting "normal" people, that's when it got harder. you want them to be attractive enough so you want to look at them, but you don't want it to look like a car full of supermodels being attacked by maniacs. it was hard. i wanted to set it up so you sided with the villains. everyone's favorite character is otis or dr. satan. everyone's favorite characters are the bad guys. they're siding with the murderers. that's who they love. i thought that was hilarious.
Was setting the film up purposely for a sequel ever talked about?
not by anybody but me. i wasn't even talking about it. i just had it in the back of my mind. i wanted to set this up, because if it's successful, there's going to be a sequel whether or not i'm involved. so i wanted to have some things in my mind, a place we could go without retreading the same bullshit.
When do you start the sequel?
soon. i don't have a start date yet, because i'm still finishing the script. we're looking to start shooting in the fall, if all stays on schedule.
Have you seen the trailers for the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
i've seen it online, so i didn't get a very good look at it.
What are your feelings about remaking these old classics?
i don't see the point. hammer remade all those universal films, and i love all the hammer films, but some films are special for what they are very specifically. there's no reason to remake the godfather or jaws or star wars. i just don't see the point. it's just a cheap marketing ploy. and i also don't see the point when a movie is that good. if the texas chainsaw massacre was originally a good idea, but not a good movie, sure, whatever. but it's perfect. what's the point? come on: they remade psycho. that's the most insane thing i've ever heard! let's remake citizen kane while we're at it. i think it was soderbergh who said, "remake a bad movie, not a good movie." or a movie that was average. i always thought the creature from the black lagoon was a great character, a great monster, but it was just an okay movie. it was nothing spectacular. take something like that!
I've heard through the grapevine that you might be doing a new
Amityville Horror movie?
it's something that someone has asked me about. i really don't know how i feel about that subject. the way i approach everything is this: i'll think about it. i'm open to anything until i think it's a horrible idea.
What is your general approach to a follow-up?
Could something as long-running as say Amityville still be made fresh? i don't want to keep making the same kinds of films over and over, by any means. i'm already planning for the house of 1,000 corpses' sequel to be totally different because i don't want to retread the same ground. i already did that movie. i want to make the sequel really different. sequels can work, but they have to be approached as though you're continuing on a story as opposed to, "hey - let's just do the same thing again and put a 'ii' next to it!" that's definitely not what i have in mind. especially if you look at a movie like spider-man. it's a comic book character, and i've read nine million issues of spider-man, and each issue is a sequel, if you look at it that way. so he can have a million adventures. but if it's the green goblin again, doing the same thing, it becomes a stunt casting thing rather than making a cool movie. if i couldn't think of anything to do with corpses, i wouldn't bother. i own the rights to the sequel, so it's not like they can take it away from me.
i could be wrong, but you could say that
music is less of a collaborative than filmmaking,
at least in terms of the number of people usually involved
in actually creating a song. when it's just you and your band,
it can be more... personal.
Given your background
with White Zombie, were you prepared for
making Corpses and the collaboration it would require?
i think because i'd been so involved in all aspects of music - i wasn't just a guy in a band, i directed all the videos, i constructed all the tours - i always collaborated with all sorts of people to make things happen. the only time it gets difficult is when it becomes art by committee, where there are 25 people with 25 different opinions and somehow you're supposed to satisfy them all. it's just impossible.
What's next after Corpses II? More music, or are you going to keep
hopefully i'll have another movie lined up after this one. that's what i want to do. i'm not going to stop doing music 100 percent, but making movies is what i want to do.
Is your band cool with that?
i don't really have a "band", so it doesn't matter!