Happy Halloween my fellow Larvae! Today we enter the world of the King of B Movies – Bill Zebub. The writer/ director of Assmonster, Night Of The Pumkin, The Worst Horror Movie Ever Made, several Metal Documentaries and my personal favorite Zombie Christ, amongst many, many others. Zebub joins us in the lounge to discuss his films, personal viewpoints and of course the true origins of Halloween.
You’ve released several docs about Metal music, each dedicated to a different sub genre including my favorite Pagan Metal! Now you don’t set down a narrative of your own, you only allow the bands to talk, what brought on this decision?
It just seemed to me that documentaries had too much narrator and too much fluff. My challenge was to eliminate a narrator completely and to see if viewers can feel their own flow. Viewers are diverse, and some of them have brain mapping that makes it hard for them to digest a documentary that has no solid structure. These people also have a hard time with fiction – they need to be spoon-fed the plot, and they become upset if they have to think. I feel bad for them because they are presently incurable. No amount of teaching or medicine can help them. But overall the reactions have been positive. Many viewers appreciated how I let the artists discuss their art. No outsider paraphrased anything. I am releasing BLACK METAL: THE MUSIC OF SATAN in November. I’m calling it the super-documentary about black metal because it has more forefathers than any other such documentary. I participated in it a bit more, but not as a narrator. it was more like a prankster. There is a lot of humor in that one. Some people think that humor has no place in such things. Those people probably also think that pro wrestling is real.
How do you get permission to use the music in your films? Do bands ever approach you?
I had cultivated friendships with bands and record labels while hosting radio shows and publishing “The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds.” When I asked permission, it was as a friend. I quickly discovered that this was beneficial to both. Viewers started contacting me, telling me about how I turned them on to bands they hadn’t heard before. Actually, the newer DVD’s now have music chapters in which you get artist and album information. You can hear the song andknow exactly what it is. You don’t have to jot down everything in the credits. Anyway, these friendships took years, and it took a lot of work to build up a name and to build up trust. Nothing is easy.
Name 3 bands every metalhead should have in their collection
There are many different types of metal, and many types of personalities. I was once of the opinion that everyone should own Mercyful Fate’s “Melissa” and “Don’t Break the Oath” albums, but I have met people who cannot enjoy the falsetto. It’s hard for me to imagine that because I like it so much. It resonated with me from the beginning. The vocals had just the right amount of pain and sorrow, and were sung in such evil and astounding melodies. You shouldn’t have such a thing in your collection if you do not respect it. I tell no metalhead what to bear. What a metalhead carries on his journey is his or her own choice.
You are re-releasing ‘Assmonster’ as ‘Horror Hacks’, care to clear up any possible confusion?
Well, you helped me to understand why that is not such a good idea. This is no longer happening. The history of it is that “Assmonster” always had packaging that made people think that it was porn, even when the DVD cover read “THIS IS NOT PORN.” When I was at conventions I noticed that most people who saw the DVD cover laughed, pointed to their friends, but didn’t pick it up. At first I thought that it was just typical shame that resides in American males. They seem to be embarrassed to buy something with so much female flesh on the cover in a face-to-face exchange. These poeple keep circling my booth and keep building up the nerve to buy such things, and they beg for a bag to hide their purchases. But these scaredy-cats seemed to pass on Assmonster. Actually that’s a good thing because the movie is much more than tits. The problems with the perception of Assmonster have troubled me for a while and I couldn’t figure out what to do about it. It’s one of the movies that fans talk about. Sometimes they call it Bill Zebub’s “Citizen Cane.” What i decided to do, at least for next year, is to include it as a bonus movie for one or two of my other movies. This way it will be seen a lot more than it has been. I just don’t know what else to do.
It seemed you didn’t stir up any controversy with playing performing a black face routine in ‘Spooked’, has there been anything you have done where people have made a fuss?
Actually, there is a big chain called “Transworld” that has stores like FYE and Coconuts. They started carrying my movies, and the movies were selling really well. My movies were in malls! One day a district manager went into a store where employees were having fun laughing about my flicks, and he decided to bring them into his office. When he saw me in blackface in the movie “Dirtbags” he had the typical knee-jerk reaction of today’s brainwashed people. Instead of understanding the humor of it, he called the buyer and threatened that if my movies were not recalled, he would go up the corporate ladder. In case you do not know what a buyer is, that is the person who approves movies or music. The district manager was butting his nose where it should not be. He considered himself a hero for saving the business from the shame my movies would bring. Well, for several months I was banned. Then my pumpkin movie and a music documentary got approved. But the buyer is scared shitless. He passed on Zombiechrist. That district manager didn’t save the business. He hurt it. My movies were selling very briskly there. But that’s just the business side of things. I guess you were referring to other consequences. The only people who yell at me about that are white people. And not a lot. If they had showed me that they understood anything, then I would have taken them seriously. But they were all the typical knee-jerk reactions. They also confronted me publicly, like in forums or in crowds. That’s suspicious. That kind of behavior says, “look at me.” I’m so proud of you. The opposite side of that was when the singer from GWAR initially was angry about my humor, but then he realized what I was doing. We’ve been friends ever since. But the point is, he didn’t use his celebrity to publicly denounce me, and he didn’t attract a crowd while ranting. No. He approached me man-toman, but by then he liked what I did.
‘Night Of The Pumpkin’ is an anti horror-horror movie, please explain.
The monster, if you will, is not huge. That’s the first no-no. Actually, I can’t talk about the other things because I will give away some plot information. When I finished the movie, I called the distributor and said, “I understand if you won’t acquire this movie.” I really felt that I had created a monster. The distributor didn’t share my predictions of total failure. When it was released, Transworld picked it up. So it was in malls. Great. I braced myself for the flood of Emails from disgusted fans. But the opposite happened. It seems that my experiments went over well. I don’t mean to say that everyone likes it. I was just surprised that no one wrote hateful Emails to me. Even more surprising were the positive reactions. It just shows you that you can go against tradition, even your own, and still find support.
Please explain the beginnings of Halloween for all those misinformed.
Don’t be fooled by people who say that Halloween has Celtic origins. It was a festival in ancient Greece. On October 31, jars were opened, which symbolized the opening of the gates to the underworld. I supposed that christians are embarrassed by this, because the day after is All Saints Day which has the same idea. Actually, christians stole a shitload of things from the ancient greeks. Did you know that most of their sayings can be found in ancient Greek plays? Like when they say “God works in mysterious ways” you can read the play “The Bachae” and see “the gods work in mysterious ways.” Holy plagiarism, batman. Anyway, in the festival of Dionyses, people wore masks so that the dead wouldn’t recognize them. The reason for this is simple. If you fucked over someone, and that person died later on in life, would you want to face him or her when that person is a spirit?
You are of course a Heathen…err… I’m sorry, I mean an atheist. I found it interesting how you made Elyse such an annoyance. Do you feel art trumps personal beliefs?
When I am a d.j. on the radio, I don’t treat it like a home stereo. I play music that I personally do not like, but I also know that it is good. But as an artist, I have to be brave enough to put myself into my work. Even if I didn’t want to do that, I couldn’t remove myself completely. Well, the Elyse character is an atheist. You may wonder why I would make her irritating even though I am an atheist myself. There are a few reasons for that. Elyse has a friend who is a brainwashed christian. When they argue, you may root for one or the other, but they are both arguing from a standpoint of belief. I am showing that a person should be seen by his or her behavior and qualities, not by any badge of flag. Yes, Elyse is an atheist, but that doesn’t make her smart. She thinks that she is intelligent and enlightened, but she is exactly the same as the brainwashed christian. You can claim to be atheist, a metalhead, or whatever, but that’s not what defines you.
The ending of ‘Night of the Pumpkin’ is actually quite moving and very dramatic, is this something we’ll be seeing more of in the future?
I have been waiting to make my Frankenstein movies for years. Maybe I will be able to do it next year. When I had first worked with Peter Steele, he agreed to be both the monster and the creator. Then some tragic things happened and it was put on ice. I am glad that I didn’t make the movie then because I didn’t have the skill, or the equipment. I was still shooting on a substandard camera. A few years later I shot some test footage, some of which I released in a limited quantity. Consider it a demo that will never become a proper song. Last year I was offered a 3-movie contract, and Frankenstein was one of them. During negotiations, the producer said that he had watched a Frankenstein movie and that it put him to sleep. I told him that mine would not resemble any previous movie because no movie has ever been true to the essence of the book. But I couldn’t argue the point. I then told that production company that I would only do one movie then, and as the year went on, I backed out of even that. But getting back to your question, I have always wanted to make crushing scenes, but I was smart enough not to attempt them until I developed the skill. I still have far to go, but i will create whatever scenes I am able.
What’s this about giving out 15,000 dvds next year? Did I read that right?
I was thinking about my progress, and although I am happy about the steady buildup of die-hard fans, there is a lot more that I could do. Advertising in big magazines is really just to show buyers that there is marketing behind the movie. That won’t do me any good, because my stuff will never be in Best Buy. Well, not in the foreseeable future, ha ha. I might run commercials on TV. I just got a tip on how to accomplish that. But two fans got me thinking of another plan. They had seen me at a convention the year before. When they approached my table, they were curious, but they had bought indie movies from other people and they were total crap. They didn’t want to get burned. So I asked them about their tastes, and I gave them each a movie for free. When I saw them a year later, they bought piles of movies. They couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved what they saw. I know that this reaction isn’t generalizable to the entire population. Maybe I stand a better chance with the horror convention population. After all, these are people who LOVE movies. They go out of their way to attend conventions. So if I gave away 15,000 DVD’s in a year to these special people, it would be better than any commercial on TV or any ad in a magazine. And that is what I am going to do in 2011.
Tell us about your upcoming film, Antfarm Dickhole.
I was bored one day and I was cooking up some ideas for a joke trailer The movie would be “Antfarm Dickhole” and I would have silly scenes, like a woman screaming “He’s got ants in his pants!” The jokes just kept coming, and I called my distributor to see if I can call a movie “Antfarm Dickhole” or if stores would pass on it. I was commanded to make that movie at once. When I talked about it at conventions, people were amused. I accidentally developed a style of so-bad-it’s-good horror-comedy. So the pressure is off. The cheesier I make it, the more enjoyable it will be. I can always make a bigger-budget re-make down the line, ha ha. Anyway, the basis of the movie is, a wimp gets bullied a lot. One day he gets knocked out in the wrong place and the wrong time. Army ants from south america are moving northward. They are ready for a symbiotic relationship with a human. They crawl into the unconsious wimp’s penis, and build their new nest. He awakens without knowing what happened. Later, his girl blows him, but instead of having a mouthful of semen, she has a mouthful of ants. They skeletonize her the way that was depicted in myriad short-stories about army ants. They are sort of like land-pirrhanas. At first the wimp is upset about the infestation, but when a bully attacks him, the ants defend their nest. And so becomes the rampage that is ANTFARM DICKHOLE!!!
You mentioned at the Festival of fear Q&A that were planning on working with SFX master Jeremi Cruise, do you have any details on what the project will be?
Until now I have only used gore jokingly. I have some nasty ideas, but I don’t personally have the skill to make good gore. I talked to Jerami about some things. Imagine a combination of me at my sickest, with Jerami at HIS sickest! He has always been eager to push gore to the ultimate limits, but he doesn’t always work with people who will soar to those levels. When I get my new state-of-the-art equipment next year, he and I may collaborate on something much more grand than what I had intially imagined.
Define yourself with a haiku
I certainly think
A Haiku is not a poem