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Rob Zombie is a lot less scary in person. For years his grizzled appearance — thick beard, tattoos, and, quite often, dreadlocks — has combined with his love of horror, both in his personal life and his music, to create the persona of a creepy creature of the night. In reality, the former frontman of White Zombie can barely look at you when he speaks, answering questions about his directorial adventure at the helm of the big-screen remake of horror classic Halloween.
Zombie says he didn't spend much time thinking about the dangers of a remake — even though he was skeptical of them to begin with — until the press, fans, and even fellow filmmakers began to challenge the wisdom of what he was doing. "That made me feel it was more justified, because the more someone tells you it's a crazy idea or 'Why are you doing this? ' you start thinking, I really should do that," he says, conceding that the punk-rocker in him can't help but question the accepted way of doing just about everything.
In similar maverick style, Zombie is the only person in Hollywood who can call himself a musician-turned-director. "Like 10 years ago, I was the first artist on MTV to win an award for directing his own video," he says.
"I think a lot of musicians become actors; it seems like a logical decision, since they're both performing. But directing's such a different thing," he says. "You have to put yourself behind everybody else, pushing everybody else in front of you."
Which begs the question: Why was Zombie, a multiplatinum-selling rock star, able to make the transition so easily? "I think because I was so odd in the other field too," he explains. "I mean, I've never been the typical anything, even when I was doing music — then and now — and everybody's main concern seemed to be how fucked up they could get. I was just never like that. I was about the creative process and creating things, creating the albums and the artwork and the stage shows and the T-shirts. It was the process that got me jazzed up, not how much I could destroy myself."
Zombie has had only two studio albums released since 2000 and, counting Halloween, three movies released in the past four years, so it's not difficult to figure out that his heart has, at least for now, shifted toward making the sort of films that inspired much of his exotic career.
"When I was doing Halloween, it was 100 percent Halloween. Now it's done, so I'll go back on tour," he says.
"For me, being a musician is now less about the workload part of it," he adds. "It's about relaxing" — which makes him the first rocker in history to call touring "relaxing" — "whereas filmmaking is much more intense. The focus has to be more intense, but going on tour and making music, well, that's easy."