I’m an unabashed fan of Rob Zombie. His music is the mating call that a skeleton screams when he wants to lay a hysterical witch. His films are so critically divisive that they could be given an election campaign. His penchant for weirdness is unmatched. He’s a mix of blood, violence, freaks of nature and all of the things that those three things can have sex with.
Despite being an avid student of his work, sometimes he manages to make me question him. And I mean that in the best way possible.
Rob Zombie has an approach to audio commentaries that remains special. A lot of filmmakers sound absolutely thrilled to have the chance to masturbate all over what they shot, and spend half of their films panting and apologizing about the cushions. Rob Zombie’s commentaries are ridiculously laid back. Either he’s the calmest guy alive, or craft services put Ambien in his drink before he got in the booth, and he’s desperately trying to stay awake.
If he notices a mistake, he doesn’t apologize. In the beginning of Halloween 2, a main character is wearing a different shirt than the one she wore at the end of the last film. This wouldn’t be an issue if the film didn’t take place directly after the first. But it does, and Rob Zombie is totally nonchalant about it. At first I questioned his lack of care, but then I realized, if I’m watching a movie about a gargantuan psychopath slaughtering the staff of a strip club, and I start to worry about the pattern on someone’s shirt not matching, I need to find a way to ruin something else, because I’ve ruined my enjoyment of film enough.
Part slasher, part ghost story and part young girl’s PTSD, Halloween 2 asked the fans of the Halloween franchise what they wanted out of a Michael Myers’ film. When they all unanimously answered “The same thing we’ve always seen!” Rob gave them a Halloween film that seemed to insult the sensibilities of everyone who’d ever enjoyed a Halloween film before. The Halloween series likes to “pride itself” on being slow and quieter, because boredom is way more fun than that loud asshole, Jason.
Halloween 2 was bloody and fast. Characters are introduced, simply to be vessels for stab wounds. Halloween 2 teaches its audience very few things, but one of the main things is how many boots a massive homeless man can administer to a bouncer’s head before it becomes more November 15th Jack O’ Lantern than skull. Featuring Sheri Moon Zombie as a glowing ghost and dream sequences that are technically designed to piss off a film critic, Halloween 2 was unlike any Halloween before it.
His next film, The Lords of Salem, is quoted as being his most intense yet. Considering that The Devil’s Rejects already exists, this can only mean that Lords will be a montage of Mitt Romney asking a baby why they haven’t gotten job yet, and then scolding them for being a stupid baby.
THE GIANT CLAW
Rob Zombie’s stage shows are so fiery that they birth one antichrist every intermission. If you’re pregnant at a Rob Zombie show and feel a baby kicking, check for hooves. His shows are full of hot, dancing girls, robot hip thrusting and clips from old horror movies playing continuously. People who take LSD brag about their sober trips to Zombie concerts. His vocal coach was a Tyrannosaurus and his theatre teacher started her first class by demonstrating an iron maiden, firsthand.
And then there’s that claw.
I’m still not totally convinced that that’s not his actual arm. At this point, if Rob Zombie lifted his shirt to reveal the screeching face of every 70’s genre actor who he’d ever put in his movies, waiting for their bi-yearly release, I’d wonder what was wrong with my own torso. Zombie brings out this giant claw when he’s on stage, waves it around throughout performances and manages to somehow not decapitate the entire front row. But hey, it’s a Rob Zombie concert. If you lost everything above the neck, your head would just come back to life anyway, regardless of its attachment to a needless spine.
Rob Zombie’s concerts are probably so outlandishly staged because they are an attempt to live up to the music videos that he created for each song. Now that he’s become a director too, his videos have been scaled down a notch, usually featuring Zombie singing in a field or in his house and the hot girls that hear the music like a dog whistle, and come to see what all the dirty is about. But, pre 2001, a Rob Zombie video could only be matched by fast forwarding through whatever horror movie had inspired that video, and having someone yell death threats between the verses.
Zombie’s videos are a mix of horror imagery and whatever popped into Zombie’s brain at that moment. And since scientists analyze Rob’s brain every time they wonder what a bat looks like when it’s drenched in Frankenstein, this can mean anything.
One shot will have his wife dancing in front of a giant 666 with a whip, while a bound man in a chair struggles to get free. Intercut this with Zombie dressed in a coal miner’s doctor costume and you have Spookshow Baby. Or, Rob Zombie doing his own version of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari? That’s Living Dead Girl, a song that I think is about true love.
I know that “crazy” is very subjective when it comes to music videos. One could see the new Taylor Swift video for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” take one look at the ironic douchebag dressed as a dog and think This is crazy! It’s almost retarded how hilarious that guy thinks he’s being! But Rob’s are truly insane. Or, are they normal and regular life is insane? Explore that, no one.