If there is one thing about a Rob Zombie film that is truly inspiring, it's his ability to create uniquely disturbing characters. Even in the 2007 remake of Halloween — followed by the 2009 sequel — Zombie managed to make Michael Myers into a more complex, terrifying character. Additionally, he elaborated on the storyline, creating a detailed home life capable of turning a troubled child into a monster.
Finding the right actor to take on the demented role that Zombie creates must be a challenging task, which is probably why he seems to use a handful of the same actors in multiple projects. It should come as no surprise that his wife Sheri Moon Zombie has been in all six of his controversial feature-length films, but did you know that he has a habit of recycling other actors as well? Sure, using a thespian once or twice makes sense if they are playing similar roles, but Zombie typically has them go from one extreme to the other. He continues the trend in his newest gore-filled horror film, 31. Check out the IMDb synopsis:
Five carnival workers are kidnapped the night before Halloween and held hostage in a large compound. At the mercy of their captors, they are forced to play a twisted game of life or death called 31. For the next 12 hours, they must fight for their lives against an endless parade of homicidal maniacs.
It's clear that Zombie has a definitive vision in mind when he develops each of his unusual characters, but choosing the right actor for the role can be just as challenging. The fact that he stays loyal to a distinctive group makes that task even more strenuous. It is incredible that he is able to provide the necessary stimulation for these actors to push past their comfort zones and take on the various roles the auteur creates for them.
Let's take a look at some of the actors who transform from one Rob Zombie character to the next.
Sheri Moon Zombie
- House of 1000 Corpses (2003) — Baby Firefly
- The Devil's Rejects (2005) — Baby
- Halloween (2007) — Deborah Myers (Michael's mother)
- Halloween II (2009) — Deborah Myers
- The Lords of Salem (2012) — Heidi Hawthorne
- 31 (2016) — Charly
While Sheri Moon's acting ability may be questioned by some, she deserves credit for being able to bounce from one extreme role to the other. Playing a sadistic killer in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects, then playing a pseudo-caring mother in Halloween — followed by a creepy dream version of the same character — Moon definitely had to switch up her technique. Throw in a recovering drug addict radio host who is unknowingly the devil's vessel, and her role of a kidnapped carnival worker fighting to survive in 31, and you have a well-rounded actress. With her husband by her side, she was bound to discover her own inner demon, which is unleashed in each of her roles. One thing is for sure, Sheri Moon is as entertaining as hell, and has earned herself a distinctive fan base.
- Halloween (2007) — Dr. Samuel Loomis
- Halloween II (2009) — Dr. Samuel Loomis
- 31 (2016) — Father Murder
It's difficult to imagine that the same actor who played Michael Meyer's caring doctor in Halloween would go on to play the puppet master in a deranged game of hide-and-seek. Zombie certainly knew what he wanted, and he crafted McDowell to fit that role to a T. McDowell plays the man calling all of the shots in 31, giving each of the hunted characters a rundown of what their odds are of surviving. Talk about a stressful situation!
Jeff Daniel Phillips
- Halloween II (2009) — Howard Boggs
- The Lords of Salem (2012) — Herman "Whitey" Salvador
- 31 (2016) — Roscoe
Phillips certainly took on a more significant character than he has in past Zombie projects. In his latest flick, the filmmaker required his actor to be more masculine; capable of living past a few short scenes and doing everything within his power to protect his friends. There's just something about this guy that makes you root for him!
- The Lords of Salem (2012) — Margaret Morgan
- 31 (2016) — Venus Virgo
Foster played a disturbingly realistic witch in The Lords of Salem who left little to the imagination. Her role in 31 is a significantly departure, tackling the part of mother hen who looks out for her group. Zombie shaped her into a character so different from the last that she was barely recognizable (aside from her incredibly blue eyes). I'm not going to lie, she is a total badass in 31!
- The Devil's Rejects (2005) — Candy
- 31 (2016) — Sex-Head
Going from a prostitute interested in Otis in The Devil's Reject's to one half of a murderous duo in 31, Daily certainly knows how to turn on the crazy. Don't let her diminutive frame and innocent voice fool you; Sex-Head has a dangerously demented side. Leave it to Zombie to make someone so tiny be so creepy!
- Halloween II (2009) — Gary Scott
- 31 (2016) — Doom-Head
Who would have thought that the short-lived transport driver from Halloween II would pop up as the witty, sadistic, clown-like killer (dream live-action Joker, anyone?) that terrorizes us in 31? Zombie really outdid himself on this one, sculpting Brake into a terrifying yet completely relatable maniac. As seen in the trailer, Doom-Head is not someone you want to ever encounter in a dark alley — or well-lit street!
It's clear that Zombie has a hand-on approach that is vital to the development of his characters, but having actors who already have experience in working in a deranged environment more than likely helps as well. With Zombie continuously pushing the actors to take on new personalities, we are given a genuine performance each time they step into a new character's shoes, and 31 is no exception. Everyone has their own technique, maybe Rob Zombie has found his perfect method for a smooth moviemaking process: regular employees!
31 is set to be released on September 16, so mark your calendars!
Are you excited for 31?
[Image source: Instagramrobzombieofficial ]