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Rob Zombie Opens Fall’s Assault on Box Office

Rob Zombie knows what scares you. Heck, he keeps some of the tools to do it in his living room.

There's the mounted monkey on his mantel. Or the towering polar bear from "The Addams Family." Or the shrunken head that he can never keep track of. ("See, it's real small," he explains. "I can't figure out how they shrink a skull.")

"Who doesn't like to have the (expletive) scared out of them?" Zombie asks, standing beneath a woman's distorted portrait, a keepsake he got from Disneyland's "The Haunted Mansion." ''Horror is one of those classic genres."

Fitting, then, that Zombie leads an ominous march of Hollywood chillers this fall that seeks human flesh - in the multiplex. No fewer than 14 horror and suspense flicks are headed to the big screen over the next two months, making for a blood-soaked fall-film slate.

The calendar is so full that today, Zombie's "Halloween II" goes smack up against "The Final Destination," a showdown that could leave each cannibalized. "There are so many because they're cheap to make," says Zombie, who is directing the 10th installment of the four-decade Michael Myers franchise. "The only reason Hollywood does anything is if it can make money."

Still, directors love horror, and they'll be exploring personal nightmares and the limits of taste this fall.

Grim helmsmen Lars von Trier ("Antichrist") and John Hillcoat ("The Road") return, while "About a Boy'''s Paul Weitz takes a break from reality for the surreal "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant." Zombies (the real ones, not Rob) are back, too, with the fleet-footed flesh-eaters of "Zombieland." ''Always with the zombies," says "Zombieland'''s Woody Harrelson. "I don't know why people love getting scared. Personally, I like my sleep."

Not von Trier, who puts his nightmare visions to the screen with "Antichrist," which is about a couple who retreat to the woods to grieve but discover surreal forces.

"The best kind of horror is to take what scares you the most, deep down, and put that on screen," he says. "No matter how frightening. Those are the images that stay with you, that scare you truly."

For "Jennifer's Body" director Karyn Kusama, a good laugh is important, too. She believes audiences are looking for "a time when horror movies could have some scary sequences with a sense of genuine danger, but also have a sense of humor about itself. Over the years, humor has become a less important component." Jennifer is about a possessed student with an appetite for murder.

Nowadays, Zombie says, the only component is standing out in the horror crowd. "You spend all this time, all this effort, to make the best movie you can," he says. "But you never really know if people are going to show up."

For Zombie, that's scary.

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