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FEARFUL FEATURE



Zombie's Girl

By DON KAYE

As HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, the long-delayed screenwriting and directing debut of rocker Rob Zombie, finally hits screens April 11 after a two-year wait, genre fans will no doubt recognize several familiar faces in Zombie’s tribute to gritty ’70s horror, including Sid (SPIDER BABY) Haig and Karen (TRILOGY OF TERROR) Black. But several newcomers grace the film as well, including beautiful feature first-timer Sheri Moon.

Of course, Moon won’t be a complete unknown to longtime Zombie fans. Moon—who happens to be Mrs. Zombie in real life—has appeared in all of her husband’s videos, dating back to White Zombie’s “Feed the Gods” (from the soundtrack of AIRHEADS). “We enjoy working together, so he wrote the part for me,” says Moon. “He had more faith in me than I did! I guess he saw something from directing me in the videos that made him think I could handle it. He knows me better than anyone, so it worked out OK. I was really nervous, but it was a lot of fun.”

Despite her involvement in front of the camera in many of Zombie’s videos, as well as her role as a dancer in his concert tour productions, the cheerful Moon says she had no designs on a career in movies. “I never aspired to be an actress,” she admits. “I was always interested in doing cartoon voiceovers and took some classes to do that, but then I would go on the road with Rob, so I could never really follow through with it. But then when White Zombie broke up and Rob had his own deal, he wanted to have dancers on stage. I had already had the experience of appearing in the videos, so I then started choreographing the dancers and making the costumes and doing all that stuff.”

Likewise, Moon says that while she has always enjoyed horror movies, Zombie—a well-known exploitation and genre buff—brought her interest to the next level. “Actually, Rob introduced me to many more [horror films] than I probably would have ever seen in my life,” she says. “I did grow up being afraid of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and THE OMEN and all the ’70s stuff—things that were sort of demonic, with a tinge of reality to them. Before I met Rob—and we’ve been together for 10 years—I had seen TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but hadn’t seen THE HILLS HAVE EYES, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, other films of that type. Rob not only introduced me to horror movies, but a lot of different types of movies in general, like blaxploitation and stuff like that. Plus, I’d never seen films like SPIDER BABY with Sid and that sort of thing. We have a screening room in our house, and at least once a week, we try to watch something in there.”

HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES is Zombie’s homage to the kind of drive-in and exploitation fare he grew up on in the ’70s, when CHAINSAW and LAST HOUSE were readily available to audiences in all their macabre glory. In the film, four young explorers, researching a book on weird roadside attractions, stumble upon a place called Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen. Once there, Captain Spaulding (Haig) informs them of a local legend in that area, a murderer called Dr. Satan, but the quartet find more than they bargained for when their backwoods hunt leads them to the most deranged family this side of HILLS’ infamous mountain clan.

Moon portrays Baby, the family’s young daughter, but don’t think for a minute that her golden-locked good looks make her the Marilyn Munster of the bunch. “Baby is the angelic-looking bait to get the victims,” says Moon. “She’s part of this psychotic family and when I played her, I guess I took a little from Bette Davis—because I love her—although no one’s gonna see that. It may sound a little silly for me to say that, but I was thinking about her when I did the part.”

Davis, however, probably never got her hands as red as Moon does, since Baby is apparently no slouch in the mayhem department. “Baby participates actively,” says Moon. “We were shooting out in Palmdale or somewhere, it was 2 a.m. and freezing cold, and I had to be covered in blood. So I was drenched, with this long gown on…I don’t want to give the scene away, but let’s just say that, yes, Baby is pretty active in the movie!”

Did plunging into onscreen gore and violence in her first film role disturb Moon at all? “I would find it utterly shocking if a person was not somewhat disturbed by doing a violent scene,” she says. “I was really, really having some anxieties about it, particularly this one stabbing that I did, and that part was not fun for me at all. I’d hate to meet the guy who thought it was!”

Although Moon, as a novice actor, confesses to being “terrified” before shooting started, she soon found herself at ease once she got to know the other actors, especially genre queen Black. “We had a read-through before we actually started filming, and I was the only person in the room who wasn’t a working actor, so I was intimidated just by that whole process. But I met Karen that day, and from then on, she took me under her wing. She was great and a true inspiration, almost like my mom on the set.”

As for Haig, another genre vet with a cult following, Moon says, “I didn’t have any scenes with him, but we’ve become good friends ever since. He comes over to the house for dinner parties and barbecues and things like that, plus we bring him out to hockey games when we get extra tickets. One of the great experiences of working on the movie was that we remained friends with quite a few of the actors. That was nice, and I imagine it doesn’t always happen on every movie.”

Moon says the bonds of friendship on the movie helped immeasurably during the nearly two-year ordeal of getting it released, during which the film was dropped by squeamish execs at both Universal and MGM before finding a home at Lions Gate. “All of us who worked on the movie stayed in touch and kept wanting to hear good news and to have the movie come out,” she recalls. “It definitely was a nightmare for Rob. At one point after a year and a half, I just got sick of hearing about it, because there were so many highs and lows, and so many discouraging moments.

“I haven’t seen the final, finished product, but people probably overreacted. It’s a scary movie and I don’t think anyone will be let down, but Universal kind of pussied out. I mean, at the time, they had just released HANNIBAL, and that’s pretty graphic, with the brain-eating scene and disembowelment and everything. But having a star like Anthony Hopkins, which is a familiar face, made you remember you were watching a movie. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES has a lot of unknowns in it, and that possibly makes it seem more real.”

Now that Lions Gate is putting the film into limited release, the public will at last have the chance to decide for themselves whether HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES lives up to its notorious reputation. As for Moon, she reiterates that she doesn’t envision herself pursuing a fulltime acting career, but there is one director she wouldn’t mind working with again. “I enjoy working with Rob,” she says. “I have complete confidence that he’s gonna tell me when something looks stupid, when something looks great, if something’s working or not working—we have a very honest relationship, and that’s an ideal scenario for any person who’s going to act.”

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