Ranking Rob Zombie’s Films, From Worst to Best
Rob Zombie releases some polarizing pictures. His fans seem fully content to follow him through the highs and lows of his career, hard pressed to ensure those who don’t worship his work that each and every film he releases is the end all, be all of horror cinema. That of course isn’t true. It’s not true for any filmmaker today. But Rob’s shown a willingness to try new things and evolve. And, as amazing as it may sound, it seems the man is finally coming into his own as an artist. His latest, The Lords of Salem is the perfect example of forward progression. But not every Zombie film is a Lords of Salem. In fact, the man has pumped out a serious stinker or two.
Get a look at one man’s breakdown of Zombie’s career below. Note that while I’ve never been a huge fan of his work, I’ve always cheered for Rob. He’s a passionate individual with an interesting thought process, and it’s nice to welcome Mr. Zombie to the world of calculated filmmaking. The Lords of Salem proves he’s a very capable guy with plenty to offer fans of the macabre… even if you haven’t been crazy about his past works.
6 Halloween II (2009)
There’s just no getting around it, Halloween II was a complete and total train wreck. It was an attempt at high level intricacy and complex storytelling… that backfires more frequently than your grandfather’s vintage Caddy. The complete personality makeover the focal cast receives manages nothing outside of confusing longtime fans. The white horse didn’t work, the connection between Myers and his deceased kin felt contrived, and Myers’ newfound aggression somehow seemed to make him more human rather than less. Perhaps it was the fact that he spent the bulk of the film grunting, a strange guttural sound that carried an almost comedic vibe. In short, there was one too many hang-ups that hindered the Halloween II production, ultimately rendering it loathe worthy.
Halloween II is Zombie’s most blasphemous effort by a country mile. The picture is one giant step backwards for a man who’d been working to evolve as a filmmaker. This forgettable tale will likely remain a black eye on the ledger of Zombie, at least if his latest picture is at all indicative of his future trajectory as a director.
5 The Devil's Rejects (2005)
Upon initial release, The Devil’s Rejects felt like a fair evolutionary step for Rob. As it turns out, time hasn’t been kind to this film. Virtually every feature helmed by Zombie has aged in superior fashion to this picture. Even House of 1000 Corpses, which (arguably) suffers from an over-abundance of fandom genre tributes, plays out as a far more enjoyable piece of work. As unfortunate as it is, The Devil’s Rejects just doesn’t stand the test of time.
It’s nice to see Zombie stand behind his debut film, the aforementioned HO1KC, by bringing the Firefly clan back to mainstream media. If there’s one thing this little family is, it’s memorable. The Devil’s Rejects may have lost a bit of its luster over the years, but the truth is, this isn’t a bad film. The flick boasts a few noteworthy vocal exchanges, a couple highly offensive shots and a savagery in its mood that we don’t see too often these days. Is it an outstanding success? No, it’s not. It’s a hell of a lot better than Halloween II though!
4 House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
House of 1000 Corpses is the kind of picture that people either love, or love to hate. There isn’t much in the way of being on the fence when it comes to this one. The endless homages have a tendency to repel viewers (and draw the brand of rip-off), but there’s a certain degree of charm in Rob’s repeated tips of the hat. If you can move beyond the fact that the film is basically a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre up until the final act, you should be able to see the beauty Zombie aimed to capture with his feature length debut. And to his credit, he does attempt to end on a big, and unique note. HO1KC may not be the masterful debut fans had hoped for, but on a certain level, it is indeed successful.
The greatest strength the picture totes comes in the form of the introduced characters and their subsequent examination. Zombie creates one hell of an icon with Captain Spaulding. Sid Haig brings this dark, brooding character to life in wonderful fashion, siphoning chills and laughs in equal measure. This is one creepy bastard who just so happens to bring heavy presence to set. Karen Black is equally unsettling while portraying Mother Firefly, Jennifer Jostyn’s, Mary is a spunky victim to cheer for and it’s awfully interesting to see Rainn Wilson surface in a somewhat early career role. Who would have thought Dwight Schrute would find himself on the business end of a twisted, homicidal family long before taking a seat in The Office? The cast isn’t the only impressive thing this feature has going for it, but it’s certainly the most commendable quality.
3 Halloween (2007)
Rob’s reimaging of John Carpenter’s treasured classic sure as hell wasn’t the perfect remake. In fact, it’s relatively easy to despise this one from the jump. Zombie has taken your typical Midwestern household and turned them into a cliché trailer trash, foul mouthed ensemble. It’s an awkward shift in the norm, and it doesn’t exactly work. However, there’s a lot of effort on display in this frequently discussed rebirth, as Rob attempts to completely repaint the origin of Michael Myers while filling in a couple decades of the unknown. Illustrating an extended time period to which we’ve been left out in the cold is bold, and we’re definitely discussing a picture that attempts to be courageous in the face of the daunting. Even if Halloween comes up short in a few key areas, there’s enough meat on the bone here to chew away for hours.
Will Rob Zombie’s Halloween be remembered as a terrific piece of cinema? That’s not exactly likely. However, for a franchise that jumped the shark a solid decade ago, it’s nice to see a unique approach taken to the film. The extended origin would likely be welcomed by all over films like, Halloween: Resurrection. At least Zombie’s flick had a few redeemable traits.
2 The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009)
Zombie’s decision to tackle an animated feature was absolutely brilliant. The limitations that come with shooting live action are completely dumped here, leaving Rob free to tell as outlandish a story as he desires. And The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is definitely outlandish. There are an assortment of random villains cluttering the screen here, some unbelievable creatures, a sexy heroine and a washed up luchador who screams shady… in an almost loveable way. Anyone who views this one with an open mind should immediately spot the charisma of the production. Rob had a blast with this film, and as a result, it’s one of his strongest efforts to date.
Avoiding The Haunted World of El Superbeasto simply because it’s an animated feature would be a terrible move. This is a film that hits the humor on the head and brings a whole lot of wild action to the screen. There’s also a brilliant soundtrack affixed to the film. Don’t be left on the outside, look into this film as soon as humanly possible. Chances are, you’ll find yourself quite surprised.
1 The Lords of Salem (2013)
It would seem Rob Zombie has listened to his detractors, quite closely. The greatest complaints about the man’s work tend to focus on his apparent need to incorporate trashy rednecks, an overabundance of extreme language and downright sadistic action sequences. Well, he brings none of those things to the screen for The Lords of Salem. Rather, the man takes a very restrained approach to the flick, allowing atmosphere to drive the vehicle rather than primordial sequences meant only to climb under the skin temporarily. The language is remarkably tame and the subtle cinematic style of the film completely empowers the visuals. Aesthetically, The Lords of Salem is a homerun, absolutely gorgeous, and when you yank the offensive out of the equation as well, you’re really looking at a high quality genre offering.
The Lords of Salem is the Rob Zombie film that countless fans have been waiting for. The fact that Rob succeeds because he abandons the elements that are now recognized as his trademarks is both ironic and telling. Perhaps Zombie’s refusal to open his mind to a more diverse style of filmmaking has hindered him in the past. We may be seeing the long awaited, official arrival of a true talent. If Zombie can craft another film as hypnotizing as The Lords of Salem, he’ll have traveled great lengths to bring some degree of consistency to an awfully inconsistent career.
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