The festival's Eat & Drink page looks mouth-watering enough to deserve a visit in itself, including craft beer and cocktails. Welcome to This Week in Genre History, where Tim Grierson and Will Latch, the hosts of the Grierson & Latch podcast, take turns looking back at the world’s greatest, craziest, most infamous genre movies on the week that they were first released.
Zombie had hit it big as the lead singer of that band, which clearly had deep influences in the sort of splatter horror genre of the '70s, as shown most evidently in their “Thunder Kiss '65” video, (ironically one of the band’s videos that was not directed by Zombie). Four silly teenagers (including Chris Hardwick, of all people) on a hunt for “unique roadside attractions” absolutely find one in Captain Spaulding (the incredible Sid Hair) and his gaggle of familial lunatics.
The movie was so gross and self-consciously over-the-top, and Zombie such an unproven filmmaker (even his name seemed to be a joke), that the film was widely panned upon release by critics, almost out of reflex. Zombie himself admitted he didn't really know how to make a film and that he had most of the movie shot before he had any idea of what his ending was going to be.
This was the age when grind house was feeling appropriately retro: We wanted a movie that got legitimately down and dirty. His sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, got even better reviews than his first film and earned him the gig directing two Halloween reboots.
(The series was rebooted again by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride in 2018, and Zombie's aren’t part of the main canon.) But Zombie has an undeniable sense of mood and atmosphere, and there are times the movie does feel like it is as close to being engulfed in madness as its characters are.
Stars from the worlds of horror and heavy metal descended on the historic Vista Theater in Los Angeles on Monday for the world premiere of RobZombie’s savage new thriller 3 from Hell.” The film, which is being shown theatrically through Fathom Events for three consecutive nights until Sept. 18, is the third entry in Zombie’s horrific series centered on the murderous Firefly family, first introduced in “House of 1000 Corpses” in 2003, followed by “The Devil’s Rejects” in 2005. Rockers Duff Meagan of Guns N’ Roses, Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein of the Misfits, and metal guitarist John 5 were on hand to celebrate the film’s gory debut, along with dozens of actors who have appeared in Zombie’s films over the years.
Noticeably absent, however, was cult film superstar Sid Hair, whose unforgettable performance as psychopathic clown Captain Spaulding in “House of 1000 Corpses” turned him into a modern horror icon. According to a post on Hair’s official Instagram account, the actor suffered a “nasty spill” approximately a week ago and was admitted to the ER.
On the red carpet, the cast and crew of “3 from Hell” offered their heartfelt support to Hair, who reprises his Captain Spaulding role in the new film. “We’re all wishing Sid well,” says actor Jeff Daniel Phillips, who has appeared in four of Zombie’s films, including the latest.
Actress Dee Wallace, who has appeared in Zombie’s “Halloween” and “The Lords of Salem,” and who plays a sadistic prison guard in “3 from Hell,” offered her best wishes to Hair. Genre favorite Bill Moseley, who portrays the menacing Otis Firefly in each blood-splattered installment of Zombie’s horrific trilogy, says that Hair is apparently on the mend.
Horror director Eli Roth was in attendance as well, and offered his own support to the ailing actor. Best known for his lead role in George A. Romero’s 1978 classic “Dawn of the Dead,” actor Ken Free has also appeared in three of Zombie’s films, including “The Devil’s Rejects,” where he shared several memorable scenes with Hair.
Zombie puts it even more succinctly: “Sid once told me that everyone in his family lives a really long time, so I’m holding him to that.” Fans of Zombie’s depraved Firefly franchise can also confront their favorite characters at Universal Studio’s annual Halloween Horror Nights, which features haunted houses, interactive scare zones, and live entertainment.
Actress Sheri Moon Zombie, who portrays the criminally insane Baby Firefly, recently attended the theme park’s opening night festivities and explored the “House of 1000 Corpses” maze with her director/husband. The genre’s image-obsessed mainstream identity was a ghastly shadow of the ground-level hunger that had once endeared it to the world, with former street urchins donning oversized blazers and singing glittery bullshit about girls half their age.
Thrash had become long-winded, the satanic fury of yesteryear giving way to mid-paced seven-minute chug-alongs, while death metal felt to many listeners like hostile, listenable territory that only the sickest kids wanted to explore. With this record, the artsy New York noise rock band transformed into the muscular California highway metal crew that would change heavy music as the world knew it.
Packing all the color and weirdness of alternative rock without the dopiness or weak guitars, La Exorcist reminded music fans that metal had no boundaries, and at its core would always be rad as fuck. Though they formed as a weird, wonky noise rock project informed by New York City’s art scene, White Zombie were ready to transition into something bigger and louder.
The generally accepted idea today is that grunge and alternative rock trumped metal in the ’90s because they were smart and emotionally aware, unlike, say, White snake. But with its reverb-drenched riffs, ragtag aesthetic, neon colors, and old-school horror references, La Exercise was undeniably rad, and to deem oneself above it was the announcement that you were a joyless ass who got into rock’n’roll for all the wrong reasons.
But if there was one thing White Zombie were out to do, it was entertained, and with La Exercise they provided all the druggy, creepy, high-octane heavy metal that fans craved, even if they were too focused on looking disillusioned and thoughtful to admit it. Modern-day music historians tend to look back on the ’90s as a time of emotional growth for rock, where the genre lost the glitz of the 1980s and focused on improving its soul.
But even then, they can’t deny that White Zombie made one of exciting records of the era with La Exercise, bringing all the riffs and Frankenstein references for which most fans sidled up to the rock watering hole in the first place. It may have looked good on paper to be a mentally-crosshatched basket case in 1992, but the writing on the wall was that most people just wanted to hit the bong, load their van with shit heel friends, and blaze out to a drive-in horror flick like it was 1965.
While everyone in the horror community is anxiously awaiting the release of RobZombie’s latest effort, 3 from Hell, I am actually wondering about another movie he has had in development since 2015. His turn on Jon Favre’s Dinner for Five with legend Roger Norman and Bruce Campbell was pretty engaging.
When he was growing up, Marx’s game show, You Bet Your Life was on local TV all the time. They were just so bizarre.” Apparently, Rob is an admirer of Tim Burton’s terrific movie, Ed Wood and was in the market for something similar to direct.
As it just so happens, in an interview Zombie mentioned that his favorite book was Raised Eyebrows written by Grouchy’s former assistant, Steve Solar. Open Mover man who also wrote the adaptation of Joe R. Lawndale’s novella, The Big Blow is writing the film along with Solar.
Some prominent filmmakers have their roots in horror but transitioned into more conventional genres like drama and even romance. For example, Wes Craven directed Oscar winner Meryl Streep in a wonderful biopic called Music of the Heart.
Street portrayed a music instructor who fights to teach the violin to kids in Harlem. Steven Spielberg started his career as a director helming two episodes of Rod Serving’s paranormal series, Night Gallery.
The Great American Nightmare’bloody Boulevard will offer outdoor screenings of classic horror films including The Phantom of the Opera, Horror Hotel, The Last Man On Earth, Carnival Of Souls, House On Haunted Hill, White Zombie Nosferatu and The Lords of Salem. The area will also feature a DJ, food vendors, beer, wine and spirits, and much more, with freak show characters roaming throughout the grounds each night.
Students who bring their college ID to the box office on opening night (October 10th) will receive a $5 discount. The photograph you see above is of Gun and Zombie being all chummy as movie types with a violent filmography are wont to do sometimes.
“With @jamesgunn at Disney recording a voice for Guardians of the Galaxy 2,” proclaims Mr. Zombie. Considering that Disney probably wouldn’t want the Devil’s Rejects guy to towline the movie, a voice acting treat tucked into the proceedings is probably the best way to go.
You’ll have the opportunity to keep your eyes peeled for Zombie’s voice work when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. His other movies include 2003 directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses and 2005 follow-up The Devil's Rejects, the 2007 re-imagining of John Carpenter's Halloween and its sequel, and 2012's The Lords of Salem.
He also created a comic book series, The Haunted World of El Superbest, which he adapted into an R-rated animated feature. As frontman of White Zombie as well as a solo artist, he has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide and received seven Grammy nominations.