WHAT IS FILM'S INFLUENCE ON MUSIC?
"THE CREATION OF ROB ZOMBIE"
Many well-known directors and screenwriters including David Lynch, Quentin Tarrentino and Spike Lee have used music to influence their film making. But a musician who is inspired by film? For Rob Zombie, film's influence on music is an equation for a horror story (or six as of yet) celebrating a culmination and melding of artistic exertions.
Psychologists have been studying the influence of horror films over the last twenty years. Obviously, Rob Zombie could be one of the subjects. Zombie’s film influences became initially apparent artistically, not only through the change of his last name to Zombie, but when he formed the indie metal group “White Zombie,” in 1985, named after the 1932 horror movie starring Bela Lugosi. While leading the band through a series of cult-favorite indie releases, Zombie worked as a bike messenger, porn magazine art director and production assistant for the classic children's TV series Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Through these jobs, Zombie was introduced to the world of art direction, film making and video production.
Through the use of his band, Zombie incorporated a horror film visual into everything from the band’s appearance to their music which featured sound bytes from horror movies. Zombie wrote and directed the band’s music videos including it’s first hit, “Thunderkiss 65,” which featured ghouls running a muck, Go-Go girls dancing in the desert and images of a hard-clad band featuring Zombie singing, and screaming furiously. Zombie made his first solo album Hellbilly Deluxe, in mid-1998 and it sold more copies in its first week of release than any White Zombie record before it.
He disbanded White Zombie and forged ahead as a full-time solo act, writing and directing his own very successful horror film based music as well as remixes, with three platinum albums and more than five Grammy nominations. Horror film's influences are show in everything in his music from music video themes including “Living Dead Girl,” "Dragula" and "Never Gonna Stop," to sampled clips from movies heard in his music as well as song titles.
In April of 2000, funded by Universal Studios after he designed a horror display for their amusement parks, Zombie began work on writing a full-length horror movie. When finished, the project sat on hold for an entire year because Universal proclaimed the movie "extremely violent" and Zombie was not willing to compromise artistic integrity and cut certain pieces of the movie. After re-shooting some footage and Zombie’s attorney’s negotiating with the Motion Picture Association of America for an R-rating, Zombie finally sold House of 1000 Corpses to Lions Gate Films and it was released in the U.S. in August 2002.
Between scenes of the movie, Zombie infuses transition effects that center on one character or are twisted jumbles of old film clips satirized with different colors, or some of the more freakish characters dancing or murdering people in unusual ways. Zombie also wrote and selected music for the movie, which, like some famous filmmakers before, developed character persona and sets a very chilling and uneasy tone for the movie. Although the film did not receive favorable critical review, the movie itself is deemed ground breaking and becoming a "cult" favorite because of Zombie's choice of transitional techniques and use of satirized infused film clips within its context.
Zombie has gone on to make such successful movies including The Devils Rejects, remakes of Halloween and Halloween 2 as well as The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, an animated film based upon his comic book. His latest film, The Lords of Salem is scheduled to be released sometime this year. And if infusing music and horror together in film were not enough, Zombie directed his first major television commercial last year, entitled, "The Torturer" for the laundry detergent, Woolite.
Surprised? Studies show audiences are gaining a greater understanding of horror movies in every day life; not as acts of violence but elevating horror-based characters into sympathetic creatures, like Frankenstein. They are accepting horror based genre into the everyday - thanks to ground breakers like Zombie. Imagine what the possibilities hold for film's influence on music for other musicians in the future? The possibilities are endless.