Rob Zombie is the new-age Alice Cooper, blending shock-rock and campy over-the-top B movie style theatrics with plenty of tits and ass (usually that of his wife).
Zombie’s long-awaited musical return to the UK this Spring/Summer has resulted in a flurry of sold-out shows and has upped his credentials after his latest films resulted in more of a slump than a surge. But the dreadlocked devil hasn’t hung up the camera just yet; he also has a new film project in the bag, The Lords of Salem, which he describes as being his darkest work yet.
The Lords of Salem is inspired by the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, but is set predominantly in the present day, and is to be released in 2012.
I’m just going to come out and say it: I bloody love Rob Zombie. He is without a doubt the best live act that I have ever seen (and I am eagerly awaiting the experience of seeing him again at Download festival) and his tongue-in-cheek macabre melodies never fail to dazzle.
But upon hearing the news of his new film project, I realised that while I blare Mars Needs Women at every given opportunity I have never transferred my attention over to his – often poorly received – onscreen works. Awesome Art takes a look back over the best (and worst) of Zombie’s horror exploits.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
A colourful dose of camp southern gothic, Zombie’s first full-length feature tells the story of the demented Firefly family who live in the arse-end of nowhere in 1970s Texas. The film resembles a Rob Zombie music video, loaded with snippets of serial killers, pin-up strippers and black and white silent movies.
Two idiotic teenage couples attempting to write a book about desolate road-stop attractions in the southern states come across creepy clown Captain Spaulding’s combination gas station and dodgy fried-chicken hut complete with horror attraction: ‘The Museum of Monsters and Madness’. There they learn the legend of Doctor Satan and, after picking up a hot hitch-hiker, become entangled with the demented serial-killing skin-wearing Firefly family.
The mediocre plot and often irritating script – did Zombie purposely set out to squash a swear word into every line? – are luckily overtaken by the visual impact of the film. Fetuses in jars, Sheri Moon writhing around with a skeleton, and the Firefly family herding their victims (victims dressed in over-sized bunny costumes) through the mist are just a few of the memorable moments that make this film the ultimate cartoonish nightmare. Just try not to judge too much on the poor ending, or on Doctor Satan, a hilariously awful excuse for a villain.
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
I was first introduced to The Devil’s Rejects as a teenager by a horror-loving ex-boyfriend who emphasised to me just how “fucking cool” this film was. I was horrified and thought it was the most disturbing thing I had seen since The Exorcist.
A few years on and I have been sufficiently desensitized by my consistent horror-viewing to assume that I would no longer have this opinion. But upon being re-introduced to the sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, I can safely say that this is not only Zombie’s best horror movie, but definitely his most disturbing.
It’s six months after the killings of those dumb teenagers, and police are madly trying to get their mitts on the Firefly family. We learn that Captain Spaulding is actually Baby’s father, and he, Baby and Otis manage to escape the house after it is discovered by the cops.
Boasting a hell of a lot more plot than its prequel, The Devil’s Rejects gets to grips with these members of the Firefly family, turning them into actual characters (and an actual family complete with brother/sister spats) as opposed to the cartoonish hicks that they were introduced as.
Zombie ups the gore and suspense; the motel scene is particularly uncomfortable to watch – although Baby is still the most unconvincing villain – and the scene where that chick hysterically runs through the street wearing a mask of her husband’s butchered face: pure horror genius.
The perfect blend of horror and comedy, it’s no wonder that this film has earned itself such a cult following. It also has what its predecessor lacks: an awesome final scene, suitably set to Lynyrd Skynyrd no less. Altogether now kids: “If I leave here tomorrow…”
Watch the final scene of The Devil’s Rejects here.
Halloween 2 (2009)
Zombie’s first attempt at fiddling with a classic was neither a remake nor a prequel, but rather a mishmash of the two, with his second attempt carrying on from where the first left off. While Michael Myers was never known for his long list of motives for butchering everything that crossed his path, Zombie attempts to give a back story to Myers and with it, reasons for why he became the infamous boogeyman. Both films focus on the family factors behind Michael Myers’ killing rampages.
So baby Myers had a tough childhood: a slaggy mother (guess who plays her?) a slaggy sister and an asshole stepdad who wants to bang said slaggy sister. So, obvs little Mikey has no other choice but to butcher them all. Will this half-assed explanation really satisfy an audience of Halloween experts who want to know what makes Myers tick?
This is the Halloween franchise injected with classic Zombie: an abundance of swearwords from the start, trashy women, misogynst men and not forgetting Sheri Moon’s ass. Both films create a dark, desolate world filled with dirty, dishevelled and wholly unlikeable characters. But overall, the films are a whole lot more mainstream than those of the Firefly family sagas, and a hell of a lot less entertaining.
Stick with what you do best, Rob: showing off your wife’s ass. Oops, I mean… original storylines. Yep, that’s what I meant.