Sunday, September 27, 2009



Rob Zombie has been on cinematic thin ice for years now. His highly anticipated first film, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, was a critical failure. However his next film, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, is a great horror film. In fact it is one of the more respected horror films of recent history. But since then Zombie has maintained failure after failure. The Zombie HALLOWEEN reboot was the point-blank wasting of a franchise, and personally, I am not going to bother with his critically eviscerated HALLOWEEN 2. Between the back-to-back HALLOWEEN productions Zombie worked on a straight to DVD, R-Rated cartoon called THE HAUNTED WORLD of EL SUPERBEASTO. Honestly, I went into this thing hoping to find something worthwhile about Mr. Zombie. I have come up completely broke.

THE HAUNTED WORLD of EL SUPERBEASTO is as garbled and mindless as its overwrought title. This is a movie that arguably shouldn’t have been made. Rob Zombie obviously has some rabid fans that demand this sort of diseased filth from him. The fan-power drives the producers, the producers ante up, and viola: crap. Zombie no doubt makes a lot of money squeezing out these turds, but there is nothing of significant value in SUPERBEASTO.

SUPERBEASTO is a well-animated exploitation flick that seems to be aiming in the same controversial direction that Ralph Bakshi aimed in 1975 with his blaxpolitation opus, COONSKIN. Things are going to get complex for me here because I have always maintained that COONSKIN is a deviant work of racist offal. Since viewing Zombie’s SUPERBEASTO, I have been forced to reconsider what it is that COONSKIN actually stands for. There is truth in Bakshi’s film. He is holding a mirror to racial and sexual politics and presenting it all, sans censors and taste. If only Zombie could draw on such intelligence! When propping a piece of warm feces like SUPERBEASTO up against the deeply offensive COONSKIN, the latter looks like a genre-defining STAR WARS.

The plot in SUPERBEASTO is about as basic as it gets. A mouthy, lothario luchador named Superbeasto (Tom Papa) films porn, hangs out in the strip-bar, and drives a hotrod straight out of the MUNSTERS. He is detestable, crass, and useless. Set to the backdrop of more animated breasts and buttocks than I could bother counting, Superbeasto somehow finds a purpose for the rest of the movie. His mission? He sees Velvet von Black’s (a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking Rosario Dawson) striptease and is mesmerized by her boobs that protrude violently when she pushes air into them. When von Black is kidnapped by a talking gorilla with a screw in his head, Superbeasto gives chase. The bulk of the rest of the film is his attempt to find and save von Black. He recruits his buxom, blonde, squeaky-voiced, innuendo-dropping, full-frontal nudity showing sister Suzi X (Sheri Moon Zombie) to help him on his quest.

The quest takes Superbeasto, Suzi X, and Murray (Brian Posehn), Suzi’s transforming lust-droid/grope-mobile, into the lair of Dr. Satan himself (Paul Giamatti). Waitasecond! Wasn’t there a Dr. Satan in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES? Also there are several animated faces in this film that look completely familiar, but I couldn’t place immediately. It appears that Zombie has run out of ideas. In a way, Zombie is a tacky renaissance man. Like some other currently popular filmmakers, he is recycling past film ideas, but the material he is reworking is a lot of compromised monster movies and drive-in sleaze, and what he does with it is unoriginal and weaksauce.

Zombie’s porn-fueled, blood-spattered, profanity-laden film is packed with every B-movie reference possible on its tedious journey to nowhere. It opens like FRANKENSTEIN, and there is an amusing nod to Zombie’s own WEREWOLF WOMEN OF THE SS trailer in GRINDHOUSE. Hitler’s head is also kept in a jar in an unnecessary nod to the completely lame THEY’VE SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN. The musical numbers (one which spoofs SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK) are shockingly not funny at all. Zombie reaches hard and gets no purchase. The audience is even encouraged to masturbate during a song featuring a protracted topless “catfight.” More familiar images flutter across the screen in rapid succession throughout SUPERBEASTO. Edward Scissorhands, Jason, The HR Geiger Alien, Nosferatu, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Fly, Jack (Nicholson) Tors, Tura Satana and even Sid Haig’s Captain Spaulding all show up for short cameos. Even Zombie’s own re-appropriated Michael Meyers from the HALLOWEEN movies is a victim of Superbeasto’s hotrod antics. All of these things are failed attempts at actual humor. Even with a mirthless running “Mr. Roboto” joke from Styxx, there is nothing to do but watch this canned, animated train-wreck finish choking on its own vomit.

If the unoriginality isn’t enough, this cartoon is also a complete embodiment of mainstream misogyny. I am more than capable of levying this kind of judgment with films like REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS and SIN CITY in my past. The rationale always offered to excuse the misogyny and objectification of women in these films is that the women kick ass and are thereby empowered. I would agree that these women have been empowered with weapons and foul-mouths, but their function is still to serve as objects for the projection of male desire, specifically rutting or ogling. The role of Suzi X is a particularly disturbing one. Zombie’s nonstop objectification of his spouse in his films smacks of John and Bo Derek put to sloppy, over-sampled heavy metal. Rob Zombie isn’t the only guilty party here; his wife seems to be agreeable to her own objectification.

THE HAUNTED WORLD of EL SUPERBEASTO is a complete waste of time. I didn’t laugh, smile, or snicker through the whole thing. Believe me, I went in hoping to. In my takedown of this film, I have read several different reviews, and people tend to praise this film for its animation. I am willing to agree that the animation is solid and that the art is definitely well-done. Some of the explosions and visual effects are rather dizzying, but they don’t make up for the nerve damage that you are going to take as you attempt to figure out what the hell the point of this film is. There is an underlying theme of “I was a total wimp in high school, and I never got over it,” an autobiographical admission perhaps?

Some might argue that there isn’t supposed to be a point, that I am digging too hard, and I should relax and just enjoy the movie. Perhaps they are right. I am willing to accept that the movie is pointless, but there is nothing to enjoy here. Furthermore, there is absolutely no point to 99% of Rob Zombie’s movies, his music, or the man himself for that matter. THE HAUNTED WORLD of EL SUPERBEASTO finalizes it all. I am completely done with this clown.

-Mediasaurus Rex