TIFF 2011: Toronto International Film Festival

Friday | October 24, 2014

Rob Zombie aims for the brain in new film


Rob Zombie attends the Dawn Of The Con at PETCO Park on July 12, 2012 in San Diego, California. (CHRISTOPHER POLK/Getty Images for VH1 Classic/AFP)

Man can't live by the butcher knife alone.

Correction: man can't die by the butcher knife alone.

It's not that Rob Zombie is mellowing, per se. Maybe maturing is a better word. While his films House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects and the Halloween remakes spilled blood by the bucketful, his latest, The Lords of Salem, aims for the brain instead of the jugular.

"All the movies I've made in the past are these sort of very raw, handheld, physically violent type movies, where the violence is really in your face," Zombie said in an interview hours before The Lords of Salem made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"And this movie is not violent at all, or bloody, or anything like that. I wanted to make something that was sort of a slow-paced, psychological mindf---."

The Lords of Salem revolves around radio DJ Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie, Rob's wife, who appears in each of his films.) After Heidi is sent a mysterious vinyl record and plays it on the air, the creepy, cacophonous music starts to twist her mind, as well as the minds of several other women in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts.

From a plethora of old, naked witches to a creepy little demon-midget creature, there is some deeply weird stuff going on in this film. But to talk to Zombie and his wife together in the flesh, you'd never suspect they were anything but a normal, fun-loving, very cool couple.

The relationship "just works," said Moon Zombie. "We've been together almost 20 years, we like hanging out with each other and working together and being creative.

"It's not really work, per se," she said. "It's not like we're going to some boring insurance job or something. It's fun creative stuff that we're brewing up."

Zombie continues to alternate between films and music, sometimes almost on a month-to-month basis; shooting a movie, then going on tour, then editing the movie, then recording a new album, then premiering the movie and so on. It sounds exhausting, but Zombie said it was too hard going years at a time doing just one or the other.

"It kept feeling like I had to restart each career, so now I'm trying to juggle everything at the same time," he said. "It's kind of a pain in the ass, but so far it works."

While he's on his upcoming Twins of Evil tour with Marilyn Manson, he'll spend his downtime working on the script for Broad Street Bullies, a movie based on the early-'70s Philadelphia Flyers.

Wait, what? Rob Zombie is making a hockey movie?

"It's an incredibly violent film about hockey in 1973," he said.

"It's right up your alley," added his wife.

"It's tailor-made for me," he agreed.

But what will Sheri Moon Zombie's role be in what sounds like a male-dominated film? Maybe a bartender or a groupie, she said. Her husband has other ideas.

"You'd play Dave Schultz," he said. "The main enforcer."

Here's our favourite gross-out moments from the fest's Midnight Madness program:

Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem may be his least bloody film yet, but TIFF-going gorehounds needn't fear, as there's plenty of gushing crimson to go around.

Warning: spoilers! Also: blood!

That'll leave a mark: In Dredd, a drug called slo-mo makes users feel like time is moving at 1% its normal rate. Too bad for a perp who takes a bullet to the cheek, as it explodes out the other side of his head in a super slo-mo spray of blood, flesh and bone.

Needs ointment: The Bay is like Jaws, if Jaws were a faux documentary about horrific parasites that burrow into the skin. By the end of the film, the oozy, blistery rashes on the parasites' victims are highly barf-worthy. And then the bugs eat their way out.

Mind blown: During a shootout in Seven Psychopaths, sadistic gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson) gets his head blown to juicy crimson smithereens by a shotgun blast. Fortunately it's just an imaginary sequence. Fortunately.

-- Steve Tilley

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