Monday, October 26, 2009

THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO - For proper synopsis refer to graffiti on washroom stall wall....

Directed by
Rob Zombie
Written by
Tom Papa and Rob Zombie
 Staring (Voices): Tom Papa
                              Sheri Moon Zombie
                              Paul Giamatti
                              Rosario Dawson
                              Brian Posehn

I once watched an interview with Rob Zombie where he was describing at length a stage set up he had assembled for a series of summer dates that he was playing with his solo band. Like an excited child he spoke swiftly, and with active hand gestures, of mining the trashiness and inherent idiocy of a summertime metal festival and it's crowd for inspiration, dressing everything in an Evel Knievel “Pro-satanic America vibe”, and likening it all to a monster truck rally. In mid sentence his hands just dropped away and scowl seized his face as he mumbled “Everyone's going to be so drunk they're not even going to notice anyway...”. Since that interview I can't say that I've ever seen Mr. Zombie speak so honestly about his awareness of the divide in his fan group, and of how some of the satirical, ironic and dare I say cerebral elements of his work aren't grasped by his fans. Self awareness is an endearing quality in a trash-based artist, especially one who knows how to balance appreciation and ridicule, but with enough cynicism in the mix, this can quickly boil down to “these idiots will buy ANYTHING I slap together”.

A back burner pet project for Zombie since 2006, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is an animated exercise in low class set to make his other work (“House of 1000 Corpses”, a psilocybin cactus freak-out sequence for “Beavis and Butthead do America”, etc ) look like restrained, subtle cinema. After enduring the exploits of the titular character and his score of cussing acquaintances, one could be forgiven for assuming that this was less a labor of love and more of something that Zombie would work on when he got home from a rank bar with his mind fresh with two dozen new dick jokes.

El Superbeasto (voiced by comedian Tom Papa) is a washed up luchador turned small time porn stud who spends his time cruising the seedy underworld of Monsterland. Orbited by his ever-bouncing bombshell sister Suzi-X (Zombie's wife and lead go-go dancer Sherri Moon) and her repressed robo-guard Murray (an uncharacteristically enthusiastic Brian Posehn) Beasto kills, screws, and gallivants with an assortment of one-line having, no clothes wearing, zero-laugh-wielding creature types. Amidst the flurry of undead/naked/werewolf Nazis on motorcycles, 40's era monster sex sight gags, and astoundingly half-baked XXX show tunes, we are somehow meant to care about a pompous British ape kidnapping a striper (gratingly voiced by Rosario Dawson) to make her the bride of evil overlord Dr. Satan (no relation to the character of same name from Zombie's debut “House of 1000 corpses”, unfortunately played here by Paul Giamatti). El Superbeasto attempts to foil Dr. Satan's plan because.....who gives a fuck? 1000 dick/tit jokes later and we have curtain.

Given Zombie's penchant for 70's revival it would stand to reason that this would be a tip of the hat to Ralph Bakshi's controversial animated efforts “Coonskin” (AKA “Street Fight”) and “Fritz the Cat”, or at least Scooby Doo, but it has in terms of both its animated tone and voice acting, more in common with a Nickelodeon cartoon unfortunately. The bright, texture-less animation style is basically the artistic antithesis of what's called for given the subject matter, as a sketchier, darker vibe could have elevated this to an interesting visual piece at the very least. The collection of voice talent involved in bringing these one trick centaurs to life is a mix of Zombie regulars (Sherri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, Ken Foree, etc) and a few A listers (Paul Giamatti, Rosario Dawson), which did bode quite well considering that the former tend to behave like cartoons in their live action work and because the latter are a very adaptable bunch usually, but it's all for not. Selecting one or two cast members to pick on over poor performance would be asinine, every single hand on deck is cheering, shrieking, and wailing their way in to the rocks on this one.

The fact that all of these annoyances are intentional isn't lost on me. I don't think Zombie is a simple fellow at all, on the contrary, I feel like this is a well aimed shot at the wallet of every smelly drunk who can bellow his way through the chorus to “Super-Charger Heaven”. It's great marketing, but it's also crass and disappointing coming from an artist that is better than praying on the intellectual dregs of his fanbase.

This is one of those pieces that an artist puts together, gets a load of bad reviews over, and then defends by insisting “This was one for the fans, man! I didn't make this for all the fat cats! Etc..”. This is actually quite fair in Rob Zombie's case given that the majority of his followers (which I number myself amongst) are outrageously annoying people. His forte, in all mediums, has thus far been the hyper-acceleration of trash and scum through sexual exploitation and utterly cruel violence, and more often than not he succeeds, sometimes even gloriously. With that mission in mind though, it's no surprise that when sampling his latest wares you'll find yourself rubbing shoulders with hyperactive, white trash scumbags who would beat you up for speaking ill of “More human than human”, but don't have any clue that what a “Make Them Die Slowly ” is. I hope those fans enjoyed “El Superbeasto” for all of its cynical idiocy, because this fan did not.

- Skot Hamilton


  1. Hi,
    Fine description. The haunt industry is unique in this aspect. Another influence on this is the Haunted House Association and sits like Haunt World where they work to promote the industry as a whole. There is competition with haunts but in this industry it is not like other industries because people will pay to go to several haunts in a night or over the course of a week.


  2. Hi,
    Fine observation. It looks quite entertaining. Even though this is an animated film it pretty much has everything you'd expect from a Rob Zombie movie and that's gory violence, The film centers on Superbeasto (Tom Papa), I really wasn't sure what to expect from this film since I wasn't that big of a fan of Zombie's regular movies but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise, although I'm sure many will be turned off by the extremely adult nature.