Bullies on the Big Screen
PHILADELPHIA - Rob Zombie considers himself bad luck when it comes to hockey.
He grew up in Boston and remembers the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals vividly.
It stung that his Bruins lost to the Flyers.
After he saw the Flyers win in Buffalo the following year and then defeat the Soviet Red Army team in 1976, he decided he needed to switch allegiances and root for the Flyers.
We all know what it’s been like since…
For awhile he was living in Los Angeles, so he decided to become a Kings season ticket holder.
He had those seats for six years and went to every game. Then, he decided to move back East and gave up the tickets prior to last season.
And they won the Cup.
So Zombie, the front man of the seminal 80s hard-rock band White Zombie, and more recently a horror film director with a bunch of films to his credit including the remake of Halloween, has decided to make a hockey movie about winning.
Not only that, he wants to make one about winning in Philadelphia, with his beloved Flyers.
So, Zombie started working on a script to tell the story of the Broad Street Bullies.
“It’s the best sports story never told in a film,” Zombie said. “It’s ‘Rocky’ meets ‘Boogie Nights’ and it’s from a great time period where the story was more than just what was going on out on the ice.”
Zombie, 47, said the script is practically finished, and that it just needs some color, which is why he was at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday to take in the Flyers game with the Lightning.
He said he wants to get a feel for what hockey is like in Philadelphia –and to get more stories.
“I’ve sunk myself into every book ever written about this team and every video or television piece there is, so I’m pretty well-versed in the story of this team,” Zombie said. “But I’m also here to get that one story that maybe nobody has told in 40 years and to include that in the movie.”
Zombie said the plan is to begin principal filming in the Fall with a release sometime in 2014.
He wouldn’t divulge who he has in mind to play the primary characters, but he did say he had several people in mind.
“It all starts with Fred Shero, as he’s the main character and you’d like to get a big name to play him,” he said. “But I can tell you this, I saw a movie recently and when I saw one of the actors I said, ‘That’s my Dave Schultz.’ I won’t say who it is, but the guy is perfect for the role.”
As for the other players, Zombie said he’s debating between finding actors who can play hockey or hockey players who can act, and would be making those decisions in the coming months.
Zombie added that most, if not all of the movie would be shot in and around Philadelphia.
“It’s not like I can go to Transylvania and try to pawn it off as Philadelphia,” he said. “You can’t do that with a movie like this that is as much about the fabric of the city and it’s people as it is about their hockey team.
“The only thing we might have to take outside of Philly is the hockey rink. Since the Spectrum doesn’t exist any more, we have to find a rink that looks like the Spectrum, so that might have to be shot elsewhere, but the rest of the principal shooting will be done here in Philadelphia.”
Zombie said there is a lot of interest in the movie and that there are a lot of people who both want to make it and part of the production.
“The only thing everyone is waiting on is me,” he said. “But I want to make sure I have everything right before we get into pre-production. It’s such a character-driven story that I want to make sure we have all of the details right before we really get started.”
Zombie first started working on the project in the Spring of 2010 when the Flyers were making their run to the Stanley Cup Finals. He said it took some time to get the project off the floor because in Hollywood there aren’t a lot of film companies that are interested in making hockey movies.
“They were telling me, ‘Nobody wants to see movies about hockey,’” Zombie said. “To which I replied, ‘Yeah, 15 years ago nobody wanted to see movies about pirates, and look what happened there.’”
Zombie eventually won people over when he told them this wasn’t going to be like any other hockey movie.
“Everybody thought I was going to try to make the next Slap Shot,” he said. “This is totally different. It’s not a comedy. Yes, there’ll be funny parts, but it’s not a comedy.”
What it is instead, is a tribute to sports in a much simpler, yet more volatile era.
And when he’s done chronicling the best part of the history of Philadelphia Flyers hockey, he’ll go home again.
“And maybe when I leave Philly, they’ll win the Cup,” he said.
Some Flyers fans may not be willing to wait that long, but then again, if you could be promised a championship and a movie about your favorite team in the next two years, you’d take it right?
Well, Zombie can promise that you’ll get halfway there.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37