"The Lords of Salem"
Anchor Bay "The Lords of Salem"

It left me saying that, but it also creeped the hell out of me.

The movie's not violent, it's not bloody, and it's not typical horror things -- but I like the fact that people kept telling me, "It really bothered me. It gave me a weird vibe that I couldn't get rid of all night." That's how I'll feel sometimes when I'll watch, say, a David Lynch movie or a Cronenberg movie. There was nothing in the movie that was that disturbing, but the total vibe of the whole thing -- that's what I wanted to try to achieve with it.

I'm curious -- why did you make "Halloween 2"?

Truthfully, a couple things. When the first "Halloween" came out, it was a huge hit, number one movie, and blah blah blah blah. So of course they thought, "He's gonna wanna do 'Halloween 2.'" The first words out of my mouth were, "I'm absolutely not doing 'Halloween 2.'"

"I always like to have at least one song that becomes a song that, now when you hear it on the radio, it'll make you think of that movie."


And I didn't. I didn't wanna do it because I was like, "I just did this, I don't wanna do it again." So they hired another director and other writers. And a couple years went by and I ran into their head of production at some awards thing, and I asked him, "How's 'Halloween 2' going?" Because I thought they were done with it. I thought they'd already made the movie.

He goes, "It's a disaster. We fired the director. We're on our tenth set of writers. We can't get the movie made." And by that point, I had a different feeling, because I sort of felt possessive of the movie I made and I was pissed that another person was gonna come in and take what I thought of as my actors and my story and fuck with it. So I basically said, "Well, I'm free now. So if you want me to do it, I'll do it." And I swear to God within 24 hours we were working on it. It was a fast turnaround.

Again they're having the same problem. They've announced a third one over and over.

So you might do one more?

No. That would just be masochistic on my part.

"Salem" is your first film in which music plays a pivotal part -- it's a song that essentially sets the whole plot in motion. Had you long wanted to make a film that fused the two worlds of yours together so clearly?

I never really thought about it that way, but I did feel like I hadn't done that yet. I never made movies that had any of my music. I haven't crossed them over that much. Setting "Salem" at a radio station really put it in a world that I know. I've gone to like a million radio stations and the DJs all remind me of people I've met a million times.

The music is always super important to me in the movies. I like to have at least one song that becomes a song that, when you hear it on the radio, will make you think of that movie.

Sheri Moon Zombie in "The Lords of Salem"
TIFF Sheri Moon Zombie in "The Lords of Salem"

You give Sheri Moon her biggest part with this film. Is this your love letter to her?

I wrote it for her, for sure. Sheri would go, "A love letter? Jesus Christ, you tortured me through the whole movie." But, yeah, I always knew she could do something great, but hadn't really been given the chance. Not even the movies I worked with her in. Even in "Devil's Rejects," it was always split between characters, so yeah, I always wanted to do something like that.

"Salem" is her picture.

Yeah, because she takes it very seriously, and would really invest herself. I knew that she would understand that character and would get it.

Her nightmare sequences are so gorgeously executed. How did you dream those up?

I don't know. They just pop up. I'll just see something and file it in the back of my mind.

That baby...

Yeah, that baby thing was weird. That was based on this picture of a real baby that looked like that.

A real baby that looked like that?

A real baby, yeah. And I don't know what the technical term for that disease is, but its eyes basically were on the outside of its head. I mean, the real baby looks fake. It looks exactly like that thing, which is kind of sad. I feel bad for that child. I don't know if the baby ever lived, but I saw this little clip of it alive, and I was like, "That is the most fucked up thing I've ever seen." I gave it to the effects guy and when they were sculpting that thing, he was like, "I literally want to vomit working on this thing, it's so disgusting."

How did Sheri deal with it?

Oh, she hates it. She wouldn't even look at it. She wouldn't even look at it until the moment we had to shoot. She hates everything like that. She is not into any of that stuff.

Well, you sure put her through the wringer.

I did. She is all happiness and flowers. [laughs]