Music by VICE

Rob Zombie Is Still a Dedicated Gore Whore

The hardest working psychopath in show business is back. Yeah!

by Chris Krovatin
Sep 16 2016, 5:40pm

The running joke is that Rob Zombie must love the word "Yeah!" because he uses it so often in his songs, but while this is usually used as a snarky pseudo-intellectual crack about his music, it also speaks to the man's personality. The only word he seems to use as often is "No." Rob Zombie isn't vague about his art—he follows his gut, same way he's done for going on thirty years—and the proof is in the pudding.

This year alone saw him release a new album, The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser, and shoot six music videos for the songs thereon; his most recent, "The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore​," is loaded with dancing undead bodies and Frankensteined tattoo artists. On top of that, this month saw Zombie drop his sixth theatrically-released film 31, a crowdfunded slasher epic about a group of carnies trying to escape a gang of killer clowns the night before Halloween.

Speaking of which—Halloween is a running theme in Zombie's movies, and yet one wonders if someone so steeped in horror business actually celebrates the holiday, or if it's amateur hour to a guy like him. "I mean, I love Halloween, but most of the time, I'm working," chuckles Zombie from his tour bus outside of Philly. "That's like asking Santa Claus how he celebrates Christmas! I'm flying around the world giving people fucking presents, motherfucker!"

Noisey: Is it weird being in the audience while people watch the thing you made?
Rob Zombie:
It is, kind of weirder than music. With music, you're playing it, you can move it around, but a movie just is what it is. And it's hard with crowds sometimes, because for me, the more I'm loving a movie, the more silent I'll be. I don't make a fucking peep. So it's really hard to judge, because it's not a rock show. When a crowd's dead silent, you might think, Oh my God, they don't like it, but they're loving it, they're just paying attention.

The reviews were really good! Though a lot of the mainstream ones were kind of begrudging, "Well, I don't know about this Rob Zombie THING," but it was good.
Yeah, I never read that stuff. I've found over the years that reviews are so meaningless. Right now, everyone loves House of 1,000 Corpses. "Oh, that's your best film!" But when it came out, everyone fucking hated it. All the reviews were terrible! So sometimes, these things need to sit. So I don't need to know. I'm the harshest critic who's ever going to watch one of my films.

Now that 31 is out in the world, can you be at ease with it, or are you immediately thinking about things you could've done differently?
No, I never really do that…well, I do that sometimes in the editing process, because it's not like this is a movie where we had money to spare, where we can go back and reshoot things for six weeks. You shoot it, you plow through it, and you say, "It is what it is." And then you're editing it and you think, Fuck, man, how did I not get that establishing shot? Though sometimes, I gotta be honest, the scenes that you didn't get when you thought you needed them, and you have to get craftier while editing them, turn out to be some of the best moments. Whatever we did on that day in that moment was as good as we could get it.

Was there any moment in 31 that you watched later and thought, "Holy crap, I had no idea this would be so cool"?
Well, there's a fight scene in the middle of the movie. First of all, we shot it in twenty days, so everything was psychotic. There's a scene in the middle of the movie where two fights go on simultaneously, and they both involve chainsaws. So filming two fight scenes simultaneously is fucking nuts. And I know people who have worked on a couple of movies who have said to me, "We would have shot this in six weeks." We had one fucking day. So you go in there, and you shoot and shoot and shoot, and then you think, Fuck, man…I hope we got this!

Clowns are a recurring theme in your films. What is it about clowns that inspires you?
I like children, and I've always loved the traveling circus, because as a little kid my family worked in carnivals. That was the family business. It's kind of like music because you come up, and you roll out the big show, and then you pack it up and leave. And clowns are instrumental to that. There's something psychological, where you just slap on some greasepaint and you're transformed. It's like a mask, but it still has movement. And as soon as you do that, people get free. They get weird.

With 31 premiered the video for "The Hideous Exhibitions of a Dedicated Gore Whore​" video. The other videos are very weird and psychedelic, but this one returned to some old-school Halloween horror. Where'd that come from?
The nature of the song. I wanted to do something that was different from all our other videos. One was stark with the white backdrop, and one has us in Mexican Day Of The Dead make-up on a bluescreen, and so this one I went with old-school horror. I try to keep them different enough from each other, but mostly I hear the song and this is what I'm going to do.

So who is the "dedicated gore whore?" Who's the subject of this song?
It's kind of a running theme. Eighteen years ago, on my first record, I had a song called "Living Dead Girl". And that became a huge song for me, and the female portion of the audience really embraced that title. So I thought, What's the next level you graduate to after Living Dead Girl? I guess you're a Dedicated Gore Whore! And the character in the video is the same as in the "Living Dead Girl" video. I like creating characters not just in movies but in videos, that can reappear and bounce back and sometimes pop up onstage. It's the same actress, same make-up, but I figured that if the other video it looks like it's 1920, then it's eighty years later. She's getting a tattoo. Maybe next time she'll be in space!

Was there ever a thought that turning this character you created into a "whore" would offend the female fanbase?
I never even thought that. It never even crossed my mind! Nope. I would think that if you're a fan of what I've been doing for the last thirty years, you're not easily offended.

It would be odd if this is the tipping point.
If anything, it was back in the day, in the early 90s, that people seemed offended by everything. They would picket the shows and the music! Now, nobody cares. I think the fans get the spirit of it. It's amazing to me that what I do has succeeded; because I always thought what I do is the underground. It's very cult. That's always what I loved. So the fact that I sold millions of records, it's amazing. For some things that works. Everyone loves Bruce Springsteen! I love Bruce Springsteen! But I've always thought that what I do is not for everyone.

Are there moments where you're still a bit stunned that you get such a positive reaction to it?
Yeah, I mean…sometimes you're so deep in the work that you don't stop to think about it. You just move onto the next thing. But sometimes I'll stop and think, Man, the goal was always that I could make enough to eat and live! The goal was not to be a rock star and play arenas around the world! Because that wasn't the scene of music that inspired me.

I recently read the It Came From NYC! book about White Zombie's early days, and it seems like even though the scale has changed, the mission is still the same.
It's exactly the same. And the way I do it is kind of the same, too. Everything starts with me, I do everything, and I do what I like. There'll always be plenty of times where the record label is saying, Why do you have to call it that? Why does it have to be that way? Because I like it! I always want to be true to what I'm doing. That way I know, if it's a success, it's because of me. If it's a failure, it's because of me. It's been the same way since Day One.

Chris Krovatin is getting gory on Twitter.