Rob Zombie essentially paid for Jesse Dayton’s Austin home. Wondering who Dayton is? If you ever saw Zombie’s 2005 redneck horror film The Devil’s Rejects, chances are you heard alt-country troubadour Dayton’s musical handiwork throughout the movie. Having heard one of the singer-songwriter’s records at a party, Zombie tracked Dayton, which caught the latter completely off guard.
“That was a total weird fluke, man. One of my childhood friends is an incredible actor named Lou Temple. Lou had been in some of Rob’s movies and worked with him. Lou gave Rob my number, he called me and said he was making the ultimate white trash horror movie called The Devil’s Rejects. He thought my music would be perfect, which is kind of like a left-handed compliment. It’s like someone peeing on your leg and shaking your hand,” Dayton recalled. “So I flew to Hollywood, checked into the Chateau Marmont, wrote some songs and the soundtrack came out. We sold it to Rob’s fans and Rob really gave me most of the ownership to the songs, which helped me tremendously.”
The fact that Dayton had a deep and abiding love of horror films dating back to a childhood affinity for Hammer Films, Suspiria and later on, Evil Dead 2, made him a perfect fit for Zombie. The two also wrote and recorded the nascent movie-maker’s follow-up film Halloween 2 (which featured Dayton playing the role of Captain Clegg). Dayton eventually decamped to New Orleans to shoot Zombex, a 2011 horror film he wrote and directed whose cast included Temple, the late Sid Haig, Malcolm McDowell and John Doe from X. It’s a project Dayton is rightfully proud of.
“It’s on Amazon Prime and we actually sold the damn thing and it got picked up. It’s got a cult following and it’s a Corman-esque creature feature,” he said. “I figured that would be the best thing to direct so I wouldn’t get that beat up about it, because it’s supposed to be that. I’m no Peter Bogdanovich or Francis Coppola, but they also started out working for Corman.”
Given his love of the genre, Dayton shared a trio of his favorite horror flicks.
The Thing (1982)
“My first favorite horror film of all time is John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing with Kurt Russell. I think that’s Carpenter at his highest level. I think it’s so cool because the special effects look real. It’s not all animated [BS]. I just love that film.”
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
“My second would be Texas Chainsaw Massacre because it’s so raw and it still completely scares the living [crap] out of me, because I love what Tobe Hooper did with that and it’s just so raw. It’s like the most punk rock of all the horror films. The way they shot it, ran around with cameras and they didn’t even have Steadicams. It was just crazy, dude.”
The Shining (1980)
“My third favorite, and some people debate whether this is a horror movie or not, but it would probably be The Shining. That’s because I can go down that rabbit hole for hours because of [Stanley] Kubrick, Stephen King, [Jack] Nicholson and all the things that are in that movie.”
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