Rob Zombie is most certainly a talented visualist, but he’s an inconsistent storyteller. That being said, I’ve found something to appreciate (and dislike) in almost all of his films and I figured now would be as good a time as any to take a look at his filmography. If anything, he does deserve some credit for having his own vision.
His upcoming The Lords of Salem hits limited theaters (New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Detroit) on April 19th from Anchor Bay Films, and I also thought it would be interesting to discuss my thoughts on the film within the larger context of his overall filmography.
The film “tells the tale of Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio station DJ living in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives a strange wooden box containing a record, a “gift from the Lords.” Heidi listens, and the bizarre sounds within the grooves immediately trigger flashbacks of the town’s violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the “Lords of Salem” returning for revenge on modern-day Salem?”
Head inside for The 5 Rob Zombie Films From Worst To Best!!
This is obviously Zombie’s worst outing, and I think most of us can agree on that. While I appreciate the fact that he was trying to do something new with the franchise, the intent behind his departure rang false. You simply can’t explain why Michael Myers is evil, he’s evil incarnate. Zombie tried to remove the “incarnate” part by setting up a nature vs. nurture argument (in which nurture clearly wins) and trafficking in the white-trash iconography that had served him well in his previous work. It doesn’t serve him well here, though. Nor does the protracted amount of time we spend in the asylum or the 3rd act that tries to remake the events of the 1978 original at hyper-speed.
4: HALLOWEEN 2
While not an entirely successful film, Halloween 2 at least has the courtesy to be interestingly bizarre. Malcolm McDowell’s Loomis is an entirely different character than in the first movie, which is entertaining if you can get onboard with it. I have no idea what the white horse business is about, but there you go again. If anything, it just feels like a hallucination of a Rob Zombie movie – which I’m almost okay with. Even if I have almost no idea why I’m supposed to like Laurie, the kills are sufficiently brutal.
3: HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this movie but my overall impression of it was that it was rather fun. After a gonzo opening, it struggles mightily with its tone and visual aesthetic, but it never really becomes boring. This is Zombie still finding his voice during his transition into film, and the parts of it that do click work well enough.
2: THE LORDS OF SALEM
This movie is an utter failure on the narrative front, but it looks amazing. Maybe it’s the breath of fresh air effect after having been in Haddonfield for so long, but it’s nice to catch up with Zombie’s growth outside of the Halloween films. There are many legitimately creepy moments and some astoundingly cool shots that make this endeavor worthwhile in some regard. Like I said, the story fails to engage and Sheri Moon’s performance as Heidi isn’t consistent – but it’s good eye candy. In fact, some of it is downright beautiful.
1: THE DEVIL’S REJECTS
Far and away Zombie’s strongest film, The Devil’s Rejects transforms the tentative beginnings of House Of 1,000 Corpses into something far more assured. This is an ugly, menacing, visceral and funny movie – and it’s certainly the best approximation of the Rob Zombie aesthetic (as I understand it) currently committed to celluloid. Rejects is the only film currently eligible for this list that punches you in the gut and makes you feel something.