The DG Braintrust on Rob Zombie’s 31 Crowdfunding!

We here at Daily Grindhouse have plenty of diverse opinions about things, but it may be tough to tell the voices of all of us contributors apart! With that in mind, Daily Grindhouse is pleased to announce a new feature that should allow you to get to know us a little bit better, and give you a closer look at the world of genre fandom!

Each week (or so), we’ll be posing a question to our writers to get their insight on a “hot button” issue in cult media, and we’ll be carefully crafting well-thought out, logical responses and/or reacting with ill-informed rants via a roundtable discussion! And we’d certainly like to hear your takes as well – comment below with your response or a question you’d like to pose or talk back on our Facebook page!

Without further ado, this week’s brain teaser…

What do you think of Rob Zombie’s campaign to use crowdfunding for his film 31? Do you think it would be something good or bad for horror fandom in the long run?

Jon Abrams: Hearing Rob Zombie is turning to crowd-funding for his next project didn’t trouble me or excite me or worry me or make me optimistic or crush my dreams — my blood pressure remains consistent. This may not be the most passionate answer I’ve ever offered, but my feelings are right in line with my feelings on the crowd-funding practice in general. It seems to me like a fair way to raise money. To be honest I’ve never understood why some people get so riled up about crowd-funding. The ire always seems to be over the subjective merit of the project in question, rather than the financing method. Personally I’d sooner spend my hard-earned money on illegal drugs than a Zach Braff movie, but if Zach Braff has enough goofy fans who want to finance his projects, I can’t be mad at him. That said, I’ve very rarely supported crowd-funding campaigns personally, usually having acted only in support of friends. It’s very rare something is proposed which I actually want to see badly enough to get active. While I’ve seen all of Rob Zombie’s movies to date, none of them have revved me up enough to throw more than the price of a ticket at them, and this premise in particular sounds like it’d benefit from a bigger budget than crowdfunding usually brings in. I’ll see the movie if it gets made and as I do every time, I’ll hope it’s good. If it’s really great, then I’d be far more likely to pitch in on his next film. But in this specific case, in my opinion, my man’s got to step his game up.  [You can reference my LORDS OF SALEM review here.]


Andrew Allan: The democracy of it is nice. With so much debate over Zombie in the horror fan world, this is a chance for the fans to vote with real consequences. I don’t think celebrities or proven filmmakers should be excluded from crowdfunding. But considering he is probably pretty well off, he should have some skin in the game. Otherwise it looks shameless. He has never excited me as a filmmaker. DEVIL’S REJECTS was decent. LORDS OF SALEM failed to take off despite interesting visuals.

Paul Freitag-Fey: It does seem like the debate has shifted a bit in this case to the project itself, rather than the idea of fundraising, though I certainly can’t deny that I’m a little bit bothered that someone who doesn’t seem to have much of a problem getting films made is using this as a way to finance a film when projects from the likes of Stuart Gordon or Larry Blamire have failed to meet their goals. Though I’m not quite sure how this fundraising project works, as there doesn’t seem to be any kind of goal — is the $90,000 raised so far good, considering all of the publicity the project has gotten over the last week?

I do like Zombie as a filmmaker and a musician, and I do think he’s got a great film in him somewhere, but, to me, he always seems to get distracted with trying to be so “extreme” and shocking that he forgets to actually create interesting characters and situations. The “killer clowns brutalizing naked women as part of a game” feels like the notebook scribbling of a bored, angry 10th grader, not the next step in evolution for an inventive fimmaker.

Craig Edwards: Sometimes I wonder at crowdfunding when the person is rich and could finance 10 such projects and still have more money than they could spend in 3 lifetimes. I have no idea if this is the case here. So I have no problem with him crowdfunding anything.

Jason Coffman: I get it. I do. Rob Zombie wants to make another movie, but this time he wants to make it Braff-style, with no studio notes, just do it the way he wants to do it. And that probably makes sense for him, because he probably wants to make this movie more brutally violent than any studio would allow him to make it. I get all that. What I don’t get is how anyone could get excited about THIS particular movie from what little information and concept art he’s released so far. It’s a bunch of naked women being menaced by huge, muscled guys wearing clown makeup. In other words, it looks like the same tired shit that we’ve seen a billion times before. Is it possible that Zombie will make it into a watchable, entertaining film? Sure. But I seriously doubt that he’s bringing anything new to the table here.

John Reents: I feel like Zombie and Braff aren’t so much raising desperately needed funds as they are trading on their images. Braff is your goofy friend from high school who just wants to make a movie that we can all relate to, goshdarnit, and Zombie’s whole deal is being a heavy metal outsider. The fact that they have public images to exploit pretty much automatically means they wouldn’t have any trouble raising funds on their own. I guess that’s what bugs me. They’re exploiting the Kickstarter ideal to con their fans out of money they don’t actually need.

So the old saying is true: Zach Braff is worse than HITLER!

Doug Tilley: I’ll ignore the fact that I don’t particularly care for Zombie’s films or music, and instead say that the only major difficulty I have with larger crowdfunding efforts is that they are absolutely meant to exploit an artist’s existing fanbase. It’s really designed as a method of bypassing investors, who traditionally could a) exert influence on the final product and b) enjoy a piece of the profits. In the case of crowdfunding, “investors” are instead “purchasing” low-level rewards for ridiculously inflated amounts. On a smaller level, this can be very reasonable. Come up with some interesting or original rewards, and pitch your project in a form that is meant to draw interest. I’ve contributed to crowdfunded projects in the past, and I really have felt emotionally invested in the final product. However, I’m of the opinion that the larger the project, and the larger the number of contributors, the smaller that emotional connection will be. What people do with their money is really no concern of mine, but I do hope they are going in with their eyes open. When Rob Zombie is laughing all the way to the bank, he won’t be stopping to share the wealth.

Matt Wedge: Let me break my response down into the two issues at play. 1. Should Rob Zombie, a (probably) wealthy, well-known musician and director be allowed to use crowd-funding? Yes, of course he should. When the idea of crowd-funding came along, no one put in a rule saying the wealthy can’t use it. Nor should that rule have any place existing in a process that is intended to level the playing field for artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs seeking to work on their projects without any interference from traditional investors. Fair is fair. And the argument that he (or Zach Braff, Rob Thomas & Kristen Bell, etc.) is exploiting his fan base is rather condescending to his fans. If they want to contribute to yet another killer clown movie from Zombie, let them. It’s their choice. Saying they’re being exploited is basically calling them stupid and incapable of making their own decisions. It implies that they need to be protected from themselves. 2. Should Zombie even be making another film? My personal answer would be ABSOLUTELY NOT! Granted, I’ve not seen his HALLOWEEN remakes or LORDS OF SALEM. My sample size consists only of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. I found both films boring, pointless projects that were more concerned with how “extreme” the violence could be and replicating the look and tone of ’70s drive-in fare than telling compelling stories or even being scary. Even worse, the scripts for the films were juvenile at best, incompetent at worst, with dialogue that sounded like it was written by a ten-year-old boy who had just learned a bunch of profanity and was eager to show off his new vocabulary. I’m tired of Zombie’s obsession with killer clowns and his seemingly single-minded obsession with gore and cheeseball redneck humor at the expense of a coherent story or interesting characters. There are more interesting, actually talented directors out there struggling to get their films made. I’m not going to tell Zombie’s fans that they shouldn’t contribute to 31. But I would encourage more discriminating horror fans to dig around, find an interesting film that actually needs the help, and contribute your money to them instead.

Doug Tilley: Oh, they absolutely are being exploited. It’s certainly a passive – and willing – sort of exploitation, but the entire concept of these larger crowdfunding efforts is for a large number of people to contribute to the greater profit of a single individual. That many people will gleefully take part doesn’t make them naive, it just makes them fans. Fandom is used to paying exorbitant amounts for things of little value.


Paul Freitag-Fey: I think I’m just amazed that THIS is the project Zombie feels like he needs to crowdfund, as it’s exactly the sort of thing he’s been consistently making and for which he’s proven that he was a loyal fanbase. If he were to crowdfund a musical comedy about the great Boston molasses flood, or a documentary about Joe Meek, or something that doesn’t feature Sheri Moon Zombie, yeah, I’d get it — projects outside the comfort level of his most loyal audience might require an additional financial hand because studios would be less likely to take the risk. LORDS OF SALEM allegedly cost $1.5 million, and I find it hard to believe he can’t come up with money to make something as obviously marketable as a savage clown movie through sources of his own.

Andrew Allan: It is a more tangible way to connect fans to the artist. Kind of like sending in dollars for a prayer from the Televangelist.

Matt Wedge: I never said that his fan base was not being exploited. I just think it’s up to the individual fans who choose to contribute to the film to decide if the project is worth their money. They are definitely being exploited, but I think most of them are being exploited willingly.

bellMike McGranaghan: My feelings in regard to Mr. Zombie’s crowdfunding campaign are the same as they are to any celebrity’s crowdfunding campaign. If you’ve succeeded in show business to the degree he (or Zach Braff, or Spike Lee, or Kristen Bell) has, you presumably have enough contacts and connections that you should be able to raise money for your project without expecting your fans to do it for you. Crowdfunding should be for people with few or no other real means. I realize this is an unpopular opinion in some circles, but I think crowdfunding is a deeply flawed concept that only rarely works the way it’s ideally designed to, this trend of famous people using it only confirms my skepticism. Also, “More Human Than Human” is one of the greatest songs ever written.

Jon Abrams: Actually if the whole plot is centered around clowns attacking each other and terrorizing women, it sounds like that’s a story that’s been done every year. At The Gathering Of the Juggalos.

Jason Coffman: Crowdfunding has become a way for people who have already established their fan bases to tap that fan base directly for money to produce their projects. It was probably inevitable that this would happen, but I can’t help but feel sad that the kind of projects that actually *need* crowdfunding to get made–genuinely unique, original concepts from people trying to do something new–get drowned in the wake of projects like this. What could possibly be safer or more predictable a project for Rob Zombie to do than a movie where clown-faced hillbillies kill a bunch of women? Lionsgate probably already had $10 million earmarked for exactly this movie in case Zombie ever came to them and pitched it. With plans for a full “Unrated Director’s Cut” Blu-ray release already built in to the contract, so we would end up seeing the movie he wanted us to see anyway.

I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

OK, a little mad, too.

I want horror fans to stop accepting that this is what their genre looks like by default. I want them to want something new. I want them to mount an intelligent defense of why this is what horror *has* to be, so we can figure out how to get past it and move on to some new ideas of what horror *can* be. I want horror fans to raise their standards and stop accepting that whatever is thrown their way is worth paying attention to, by established filmmakers AND independents.

Demand better genre films. MAKE better genre films. Put the old monsters out to pasture. Rip it up and start again.

Jon Abrams

Editor-In-Chief at Daily Grindhouse
Jon Abrams is a New York-based writer, cartoonist, and committed cinemaniac whose complete work and credits can be found at his site, Demon’s Resume. You can contact him on Twitter as @JonZilla___.
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