Through the mid 80’s and 90’s, Rob Zombie made a mark on heavy metal with the driving, groove laden and creepy, horror rock of his brainchild band White Zombie, named for the 1932 film starring Bela Lugosi.
After White Zombie disbanded Rob continued with his unique musical style as a solo act, melding metal with industrial, hypnotic rhythms and haunting sounds. Zombie’s music is similar to the stylings of Nine Inch Nails and Marylin Manson, but it’s industrial hard rock combined with trance club beats, classic movie and television sound clips, screams and assorted other sound effects set it apart.
Zombie’s two initial solo releases, Hellbilly Deluxe, and The Sinister Urge, complete with his original, wild and creepy artwork, are as much a collection of songs as they are soundtracks without the moving pictures. With track titles like Super Beast, Dragula, Living Dead Girl, How to Make a Monster, Meet the Creeper, and a couple of my personal favorites, What Lurks on Channel X? and Scum of the Earth, you can’t help but notice his appreciation of the horror genre. Well, I guess you could also just look at a few of his album covers to see that.
His third solo release, Educated Horses, has a slightly different feel, and isn’t so much in-your-face monsters and horror, but he still rocks out while offering some more pop oriented rhythms along with a big heavy metal sound. He still covers spooky subject matter like the single American Witch, and other macabre tracks like Let It All Bleed Out, Death Of It All, The Lords of Salem, and the theme to his second feature film, The Devil’s Rejects.
That’s right, Zombie is making a mark in the horror movie industry as well as in music, and I have the strangest feeling that he’s not done by a long shot. At least, I hope there is more in store for us. I see Rob Zombie changing the shape of horror films the same way he influenced the genre of horror-rock.
His first venture in moviemaking, House of 1000 Corpses (Now available for Download from Amazon Unbox), is a horror bloodfest featuring a family of serial killers who take great pleasure in terrorizing four unlucky, young travellers.
The film is well made, with good acting, especially by veteran genre actor Sid Haig, who portrays Captain Spaulding, a nutty clown character who runs a roadside gas station/snack joint/murder ride, complete with complimentary “fried chicken.” Bill Moseley plays the “artistic” Otis who creates horrific works of art with his victims. Rob’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, also does a nice job as Baby, sister to Moseley’s character Otis.
House of 1000 Corpses benefits from some pretty creative editing too, blending great cinematography and lower quality video sequences actually shot by Rob Zombie in various locations, including a clip shot while he was on tour, performing in a concert hall in Canada.
Zombie’s directorial debut was soon followed by an even more disturbing sequel, The Devil’s Rejects. In this film we follow the plight of the serial slaying family as they attempt to outsmart the police, and still satisfy their lust for death. The Devil’s Rejects brings the horror into broad daylight. It is raw, not for the faint of heart.
During an interview Bill Moseley, who appears as Otis in the sequel, comments about a particular scene which he felt quite uncomfortable performing in. During a break in filming he told Rob Zombie, who had written and directed the film, about his situation. Rob replied, “Art is not safe.”
Rob zombie is an artist, and horror is his genre. Whether hs is writing, producing and performing his white-knuckle audio rides of terror, or writing and directing a feature horror film, it is entertainment, and he’s an entertainer.
Born Robert Cummings in 1965, Rob Zombie is a long time horror movie fan, particularly the classics. Obviously this has had a great influence on his work as a musician and artist. He’s a talented illustrator as well, responsible for most of the artwork on the White Zombie records, and his other releases. His drawing style is reminiscent of Ed Roth, creator of the character Ratfink and others, which became popular during the hot rod era of the 50’s and 60’s.
A true renaissance man, Zombie has also developed a comic book series entitled “Rob Zombie’s Spookshow International,” and collaborated on “Bigfoot,” an illustrated horror tale which paints a bloody and violent picture of the legendary forest giants, much to the dismay of many Bigfoot believers.
In the opinion of this reviewer – a horror movie and heavy metal fan from way back – Rob Zombie is a talented and creative guy. I also find him somewhat inspiring. After all, he has found success in doing what he enjoys. I hope he keeps on turning out more original music and horror movies for us. Come on, this stuff is cool… well, for weirdos like me anyhow.