As an eighteen year old who was very much into Heavy Metal music and fresh off a 12-year stint in Catholic school, I was seeking to fill a void when my then favorite band, White Zombie, had basically called it quits. At the time of my high school graduation I had cemented myself as “the weird kid” who was into Satan (for the record this was all just self preservation - another story for another day) and liked the darker side of things. White Zombie had this great aesthetic to them. From the music videos, to the fashion of the members, and especially the album artwork, it all struck a large chord within me. With limited exception, this is all thanks to lead singer Rob Zombie’s heavily influential touch.
It was Rob Zombie’s warped, yet highly creative mind that would keep me enthralled with every single piece of media he produced for the next decade. A graduate of Parsons School of Design and former production assistant on Peewee’s Playhouse, Rob had launched himself into the outer atmosphere with the demise of his former band. Growing up on a steady diet of horror movies, Alice Cooper, and Stan Lee created comic books, Rob would bring all of that to the table when it came time to create his own worlds to exist in. Whether it was on stage as a solo artist, in music videos, the album inserts, right down to a short lived comic book series, Rob painted these vibrant pictures that I could only describe as part evil carnival and part seedy slasher flick with a healthy dose of twisted side show for good measure.
But let’s not forget his cinematic career.
Zombie has directed 6 features that can all be added to the Horror Genre of film. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed his career as closely as I have. Natural progression is the term I would use to be quite honest.
Rob’s eye for detail and strict reverence towards the genre that raised him is impossible to miss when it comes to his directorial skills. Dozens of horror movie legends can be seen inhabiting the demented worlds created by Zombie’s pen such as Bill Mosley, Sid Haig, Karen Black and Ken Foree to name just a few. While “House of 1000 Corpses” had the feeling of an 88 minute long White Zombie/Rob Zombie music video, it’s sequel “The Devil’s Rejects” took a more serious approach to story telling as well as calming down it’s visuals for a more cinematic approach. Rejects continues the story of the Firefly family in the wake of their exploits in House. Gory deaths and two amazing soundtracks really solidify this couple as a strong debut into horror film making.
Where do you go from here? Halloween, that’s where. Rob took on the well established franchise in 2007 with his own remake/reimangining of the John Carpenter classic. It was Carpenter who told him to “make [the film] his own” and that is what he did. Rather than make a mindless slasher flick similar to the other installments of the series, Zombie opted for a different approach. While Michael Myers still hacks and slashes his way into our hearts, the audience is treated to more back story on Michael himself. The film offers the ability to see exactly what it is that drives Myers to become the silent killer we all know and love. And in it’s sequel we see the same psychological approach to character development and story telling, this time in the relationship between Michael and his sister Laurie.
We’ve seen a surreal, 70’s style exploitation horror film, a character driven thriller, and two dark and psychological horror films from Rob… what can we expect next? Animation.
In “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto” a former pro wrestler and film star is tasked with saving the world from Dr. Satan who has hatched an evil scheme to destroy Monsterland. While this film is a vast departure from the previous efforts it still retains the signature Rob Zombie flair and as far as I’m concerned can hold a place in the horror annals.
Rounding out the 6 is Rob’s final contribution to horror “The Lords of Salem” a film starring his wife and ass model, Sherri Moon Zombie. While Sherri has been in every single feature film and music video directed by Zombie this is her first top-billing and starring role. This feature revolves around a centuries’ old curse and some forbidden music created by a coven of witches from, you guessed it, Salem, Massachusetts. Without giving too much away, Zombie offers his brand of hallucinations (with demons and unnecessary nudity), disturbing the viewer with his dark eye for detail and tone.
Whether you love him, hate him, or have zero opinion of him, Rob Zombie has carved out his place in the horror genre with not only his style of music, his stage performance, or even his physical appearance, but with what he's given back to the film genre itself. While Rob continues to work on studio albums and tour, he will always be working on creating another film in the cracks of his already busy career. As of this writing, “31” is slated for a 2016 release and I didn’t even touch on “Werewolf Women of the SS” but I feel like I shouldn’t spoil that last one.
I’m not the biggest horror buff, but if I’m going to watch some horror movies, I want the guy with all the creative control to be a guy who did nothing but eat, sleep and breath horror his whole life.
Matt Raimo is a writer for Ring the Bell, producer and cameraman for Geekade's event coverage, and all around cool dude.