Interviewed : 9/25/2014
Interviewed by Michael Juvinall
Rob Zombie was a young upstart rocker in the 1980’s and 90’s with his band White Zombie. He started his rise to superstardom with the band’s third album, “La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1” that made everyone stand up and take notice. When White Zombie disbanded in 1998, Zombie embarked on an even more successful solo career with the release of the triple platinum “Hellbilly Deluxe”. Zombie’s lyrics and videos were always steeped with horror and sci-fi themes and he directed most of them himself.
Growing up, Zombie was infatuated with horror films and along with his early work directing videos and writing lyrics for his bands, this paved the way for Zombie to branch out into filmmaking. In 2003, he directed his first film, House of 1000 Corpses which turned out to be a huge success for him. The film grossed nearly $18 million worldwide with a budget of only $7 million. The film has also gone on to become a cult classic with a rabid fan base. The success of that film allowed Zombie to develop and direct more projects such as the sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects (2005). He also directed the twisted animated film, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009), and reimagined the Halloween franchise with his films, Halloween (2007), which has become his most profitable film to date and Halloween 2 (2009). His last film, The Lords of Salem (2013) was a box office disappointment and met with mixed critical reviews. Zombie is currently working on a fan backed film entitled 31, which he hopes to begin filming in early 2015.
Zombie also has a great love of haunted houses and haunted attractions such as the Chamber of Horrors in wax museums which gave him the spark to develop haunted attractions. In branching out in his career even more, Zombie developed haunted attractions at Universal Studios theme park. This led him to venture out on his own, without corporate interference to develop and lend his name to Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare haunted attractions. He initially opened just one in California in 2013 and now has opened two, one in Scottsdale, Arizona and one in Chicago for 2014. Zombie’s goal is to literally scare the hell out of patrons that attend his events. GAN is an all-immersive event, filled with music and haunt performers both inside and out of the venue. Zombie’s goal is to create a unique haunted event that’s different from any other haunted attraction out there.
Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare Chicago opens tonight (to a sold out crowd), September 26, 2014 with a performance by Rob Zombie himself for opening night! I had the opportunity to meet with Zombie and ask him a few questions about the GAN and take a tour of the haunt. Join me as Rob talks about the haunt, what led him to open a haunt, and what the latest on his new film 31 is.
Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare is located at the Odeum Expo Center, 1033 N. Villa Ave., Addison, IL 60181. Phone: (630) 941-9292 or visit http://www.greatamericannightmare.com/index3.html#
Regretfully, the audio is low, so you’ll have to turn your volume up. I have also included the interview transcript if you would rather read it.
Horror Society: Hi Rob. Michael Juvinall with Horror Society.
Rob Zombie: Hello. Right on.
HS: I know you’re a busy guy with your music, your filmmaking. What made you decide to want to open up a haunted attraction a few years ago?
RZ: I had been doing them at Universal Studios, I started I think in 1998 was the first one. A couple years ago we did one based on House of 1000 Corpses and ummm, I can’t remember, I did a couple of them. You’re so confined to just do the one and you’re doing it at this theme park that has, you know, they were pretty graphic and pretty crazy. You know it is a theme park, they had some rules. That’s why I thought lets branch out and do it on our own. We have no rules; we have no giant corporation that we have to adhere to their standards so we kind of put our own together and went crazy.
HS: Cool. How far did you want or could you push the envelope for your Great American Nightmare haunts?
RZ: There are really no rules. I think we should push everything as far as possible. I mean, nobody comes in going “I hope it’s not too crazy” you know. No matter what you do there are people that are like “awww, that was nothing'”. Hopefully they horrify people. They’re all kind of different. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto maze is more ridiculous because it’s in 3D, it’s like a giant cartoon come to life. So that one’s not scary that’s more like an acid trip if anything.
HS: The other Great American Nightmares in Arizona and California, they’re a little different. How did you decide how to make each one a little different?
RZ: Yeah, everyone’s different. This one we have El Superbeasto which is only here. We have Lords of Salem and we have basically the murder ride. We took the one little section of House of 1000 Corpses at the beginning of the movie and turned it into the whole murder ride. In Scottsdale, Arizona we have a giant one based on the Devil’s Rejects with the whole house and a shootout; you go through the shootout and the whole crazy thing. We took Captain Spaulding from the movies and made his Captain Spaulding’s clown school so it’s this giant 3D clown attraction because we know people love clowns. The only thing that’s dual is Lords of Salem on both coasts are kind of similar.
HS: How involved are you personally in designing each of the haunts?
RZ: Well, it’s pretty easy on my part because the movies do all the design work because everything basically exists. The look of all the characters, the look of all the sets and everything. Last year I was more involved in giving input, but this year now that we have the same working relationship with the same people it’s easier. They know what I want; I know what they can do. They can kind of run with it more.
HS: Awesome. As a kid did you really enjoy going to haunted houses? Is that what gave you the spark to make haunted houses?
RZ: Yeah, as a kid, my two favorite things were haunted houses, which there weren’t that many. The best one always was the haunted mansion at Disney. The other thing I really loved more so is the Chamber of Horrors in every wax museum. That’s what I would live for. When I was a kid, we’d go to those places on vacation somewhere and then I’d come home and want to rebuild it in the basement of the house and try to charge the kids in the neighborhood money to go through it. Yeah, I’ve always been obsessed with doing that and now I really can do it.
HS: So two years ago you started with just the one in California, I believe and then you expanded them. What made you decide on Chicago?
RZ: Well, it seemed like, everything that’s here this year is what was in California, and we moved it here. Chicago has always been one of my favorite places to play. It’s always been a great market for us. It’s one of those cities I always loved. It’s centrally located enough and you want to enough of them so people can at least drive to them. We have to get a couple more up and running and then there will be one for everybody.
HS: So in the coming years you plan on expanding a couple more?
RZ: Unless the crew revolts, that is the plan to make a few more.
HS: I know we’re running short on time. I’m very much looking forward to 31. I hope to see how that turns out.
RZ: Yeah, that’s moving along. It’s been a process. Every movie gets harder to make I think. That one, if everything stays on track, we’ll start shooting it in February.
HS: Sounds great, I’m really looking forward to that.
RZ: Thanks man.
HS: Thank you very much; it was very nice to meet you. I can’t wait to go through the haunt.
RZ: Appreciate it man, it’s loud and crazy.