If you're a fan of Rob Zombie's horror films, this interview is a must-read. We had the chance to speak with the horror rock icon about his upcoming flick, '31,' which pits unlucky captives against a group of gladiatorial clowns.

Choosing to bail from the studio world, Rob Zombie turned to fans to crowd fund the film via the site FanBacked. So far, more than 4,000 people have contributed to the cause, receiving some awesome incentives in return. Zombie has also released captivating production artwork from '31,' so we couldn't wait to pick the rocker / director's brain on his latest vision.

You decided to use crowd funding methods to raise money for '31' and you've said that because the movie industry has changed so much, a movie like this probably couldn't be made today via the studio system. Could you tell us more about that?

Yeah, sure. I mean, there's something going on in the movie business that's not unlike what's going on in the record business. I hate talking about it because it's just a fact of life and it is what it is, but the piracy of records -- obviously record sales are done -- but there's also the piracy of movies. A lot of movies like this, say 'The Devils Rejects' for instance; those movies may not have done insane box office, but they did insane DVD sales -- like, ridiculous. So that's why those movies will get made, because the companies knew, well if it doesn't blow up at the box office it's going to blow up on home video. But now home video is going through the same thing that CDs went through. So as these revenue streams dry up, it gets harder and harder to get studios or anybody to want to put money to anything that they don't see as a bona fide crowd-pleasing smash hit. That's why basically the only movies you see are blockbusters and tiny, tiny independent films.

There's almost nothing in between anymore. It's that sort of thing that happens all the time. It's just the general elimination of the middle class. It's sort of what happens in life and in business. All the movies I ever made, be it 'The Devils Rejects' or 'Halloween,' they always sort of lived in that middle ground where budgets were decent, but not gigantic, but they weren't minuscule so you could make it a solid product. Now, if I wanted to try to make a movie like that, they come up and want you to make it for a fourth of what you made it for 10 years ago for. That's become almost impossible.

Do you feel like this trend could be dangerous to the whole culture of cult horror movies?

I don't know if it's dangerous to the culture. Truthfully, I never thought about it. But I do think it's dangerous to the culture of weird, original things seeing the light of day. That goes two ways. Granted, with YouTube and everyone having a camera on their phone, anyone can make something at anytime. So on one level there is much more of a way to get your product out there, but the problem is, it's harder to get a quality product out there because you just don't have the money. Back in the day someone would go, "I'll give you $7 million to make a movie like 'The Devils Rejects,'" which as they were making the movie, they knew that it wasn't a mainstream movie. They knew that going in. But now if I went and handed them that script, either they wouldn't want to make it or they would go, "Oh, we'll give you $1 million to make it." To the average person, $1 million sounds like a lot of money, but to make a movie, it's not; it's a joke.

I don't know personally what the issue is with any of them, but sometimes I look at directors like John Waters to David Lynch to David Cronenberg, going, "Hmm, these guys don't seem to make as many movies that get as big of a release that they used to." I think this is part of what you're saying. It seems like anything that's more off-center is sort of disappearing. We're just getting bombarded by movie after movie that has two labels on it: Disney and Marvel comics. Which is fine, but not if that's all there is.

The cool thing about your crowd funding is that you have over 4,000 backers already. How much money have you raised for this thing?

Well, I'm kind of keeping it a secret because I didn't want it to be about money. On one level it is, and it isn't. I'm trying to raise money to put into the film, obviously, but I feel like when you talk money, that's one thing that's really damaged the industry over the years. It's when the average person started looking at how much money things were making or how much money things cost. Because it was like, "Oh, that movie costs that much, it must be awesome." Or, "It didn't make that much money, it must be a piece of s--t." You're making art. If people like it, great if they don't like it, great. But I hate when money comes into it. It seems like it perverts people's notions of things. That's my thought, anyway.

More into the plot. What can you tell me about the 'Heads'? We've seen the drawings of Sex Head, Sick Head and Death Head. How many 'Heads' are there?

I don't know off the top of my head, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… 5 or 6, I guess. [Laughs]

[Laughs] I like this plot. People are kidnapped and they have to fight the 'Heads' for a twelve-hour period. They have to survive twelve hours; kill or be killed. Since there's only a few of these 'Heads,' how relentless is the barrage of evil clowns going to be?

The way it plays out in the movie, is each one is released one at a time. So maybe one can kill everybody or if that one fails, the next one could be released. It's like, you're in the arena and they keep releasing a fresh lion after the old lion dies. I just wanted it to be this relentless… I don't know where the idea came from, but it's like, not really the most dangerous game, but on some level it kind of is with the hunting humans aspect. I like simple premisses that are just relentless.

It sounds very gladiatorial. These people who are kidnapped, are they all going to be in the area at the same time or will it be more one-on-one battles with these clowns?

It's not really an arena. Five people are all taken at one time and wake up in this place, they don't know where they are. It's a giant abandoned something, some sort of structure that they can't get out of. Next thing they know, the rules of the game are explained and then it happens. They don't even know what the f--k is going on. Suddenly it's from everything's fine, then BOOM, kidnapped into the middle of complete insanity until the movie ends.

They just have to react.

Yeah, try to figure out. Some of the characters, they just have to react. Their first inclination is, "Is this a joke? Is this even happening? Is this real? Or is this an elaborate practical joke?"

You've worked with Sid Haig, who's amazing and in a ton of your projects. Can people expect him in this film?

Not that I know of. Unfortunately for Sid, and me, he's so identifiable as the Clown from two of my films. It'd be like if Christopher Reeve played Batman, like, that's f--king Superman! Who am I kidding? I haven't cast anyone yet, so I wont say yes or no, but I don't think he would make sense as yet another clown. [Laughs] But who knows? You ever know what happens.

Last year, you said that 'Lords of Salem' would be your last horror film for a really long time. Then suddenly we get this about '31,' which is super exciting. The initial hesitation, was that connected to 'Lords of Salem' in particular? Or did you just want to go in another direction, generally speaking?

I think it's when I'm at the end of any project, I feel that way. Sometimes, making movies or doing a two-year tour; sometimes you're so burnt out by the time you get to the end of it. Making movies is so hard. When you get to the end of it, you're like, "That's it! No more horror movies! I can't do this!" Then I take a break and I'm like, "Ehh, I'm good again." [Laughs] By the time you get to the press junket phase when you have to talk about the movie, you're so fried. [Laughs] You'll say anything.

Thanks to Rob Zombie for talking with us about '31.' If you'd like to contribute to the project, head over to the film's official FanBacked page.

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