Bill Moseley - 'Happy in Horror' - Returns in Rob Zombie's '3 From Hell'

by Sam Cohen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday September 11, 2019

Ask anyone what their favorite horror movie is and there's a good chance that Bill Moseley was a part of the production. Originally cutting his teeth as a journalist living in Boston during the 1980s, Moseley nabbed the role as the psychopath Chop Top in Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" because of a short film he shot as an homage to the original "Texas Chainsaw." From there, his career took off and now has over 120 acting credits on his IMDB. That may seem like a lot, but years later Moseley still brings ferocity and ingenuity to his roles. His turn as Otis Firefly in Rob Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects" remain as two of the actors' best performances.

EDGE Media Network got the privilege to chat with Bill Moseley about director/writer Rob Zombie's new film "3 From Hell," in which Moseley reprises his role of Otis Firefly. The follow-up to Zombie's 2005 horror masterpiece "The Devil's Rejects," which is set to screen on September 16, 17 and 18 as part of a nationwide Fathom Events release. (Tickets are available for "3 From Hell" at at the Fathom Events website.

Getting the band back together

EDGE: At what point did you receive the script for "3 From Hell" from Rob Zombie? And, what was your reaction to it?

Bill Moseley: It was about a year before we actually shot. That was when we had a fateful lunch-Rob, Sheri (Moon Zombie), Sid Haig and me. That was when they let us know that we were getting the band back together. It took a little while after that for the script to be finished.

The script itself? I'm not really sure. Certainly before we started shooting. I'd say six months before we started shooting. I thought it was awesome. I was very excited about the way Rob dealt with the fact that everyone thought we were basically dead at the end of "The Devil's Rejects." I certainly heard some conjecture about one of us (the main characters) waking up and saying, "Oh, what a dream I had," which would've been the worst of all Hollywood devices and would undermine what we did. The other idea was that we died and went to hell. The devil didn't like us and threw us out. That would've been kind of cool, but then we would've been supernatural. So, that doesn't really work either. That's certainly better than waking up from a dream.

EDGE: I should have probably said this earlier, but "The Devil's Rejects" and "House of 1000 Corpses" were two of the first horror films to really screw me up in my youth. And watching "3 From Hell," it felt like not a day had passed.

Bill Moseley: That's what I loved about it. I loved the fact that the reason we're still alive is... I mean, yes, it's a medical miracle. I think it's really due to the poor marksmanship of the Ruggsville Sherriff's Department. You've got these yahoos and they're all shooting at a moving car. None of them got lucky.

The value of transgressive art

EDGE: While doing research for this interview, I noticed that you've mentioned to other people that there isn't enough gratuitous violence in modern horror movies. Can you speak to why there should be?

Bill Moseley: Well, I think horror movies shouldn't be PC (politically correct). It's a chance to really "let er' rip" and I think we have to be careful of the corporatization of artistic content. That's really what I was speaking of. Gratuitous violence meaning violence where people go, "holy shit!" I like to really kick them in the head.

EDGE: That's part of why there's value in transgressive art.

Bill Moseley: Yes, exactly. It goes back to what Rob (Zombie) told me after the Tiki Palms Motel scene in "The Devil's Rejects." It's that "art is not safe." It should be challenging, it should make you turn away, it should make you flinch, but also to think and scratch your head. Let it all kind of sink in and hopefully you've got a new perspective on things or a more enhanced look.

EDGE: You've had a very illustrious career working in the horror genre. When Rob Zombie or a similar director comes to you with a major role like this, do you immediately go for it. Or, are you okay with playing a small but more notable character in films?

Bill Moseley: As a professional actor, my job is to get the job. I don't really care. I like working with all kinds of and different sizes of productions. Obviously the bigger usually has more money in it, so that's certainly an attraction. I like to work with new directors on small stuff. If there's a good script, it doesn't really matter what the budget is. Well, within reason. I like doing this, so come to me with a good project and I'll be happy to listen.

EDGE: Why the horror genre? What drives you to be involved in so many horror projects?

Bill Moseley: It all comes down to a love of Halloween as a kid and my family was very Halloween-friendly. After that, when I did get the part of Chop Top in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," it was kind of like knocking that first domino down. Tom Savini, who was the "King of Splatter" on "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," got the offer from George (Romero) to direct the color remake of "Night of the Living Dead." So, Tom Savini called me up and said "I'm sending you a copy of the script. I want you to pick a part." I picked Harry, the guy who lived in the basement because that had the most pages and probably the biggest paycheck. I called Tom with that and he said, "pick any part, just make sure it's Johnny." I watched "Die, Monster, Die!" just to get my Boris Karloff action down and was happy to do Johnny. That kind of sets the concrete. Once you've done a couple of jobs like that and you've done them well, all the other people involved in horror are watching the movies. It kind of just snowballed from there.

Thanks to Chop Top, Rob Zombie hired me as Otis because he was a big fan. We first met when I was emceeing an awards show in 1999 where he was getting an award. It was in Burbank, California, at Universal Studios. It freaked him out that the real Chop Top in makeup was emceeing the show and later he offered me the part of Otis in "House of 1000 Corpses." I have done "Pink Cadillac" with Clint Eastwood. I've done "White Fang" with Ethan Hawke and Klaus Maria Brandauer. I certainly can do other work but I love the horror genre, which I guess is a good thing since it's pretty much where I've settled. When I say settle, though, I don't mean settling for something as opposed to going for something else. I'm happy in the genre because it offers me a very wide range of characters to play in a wide range of stories. I'm happy in horror.

Tickets for the September 16th, 17th & 18th nationwide release of "3 From Hell" are available at the Fathom Events website.

Watch the trailer from '3 From Hell':