Somewhere around the end of The Devil’s Rejects, Rob Zombie started work on the film of his that you have almost certainly never heard of: The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. A raunchy adult animated comedy movie based on Rob Zombie’s own comic book character who took his name from the rocker’s 1999 single, Superbeast.
The story revolves around a washed up masked wrestler who has hung up his suit and taken up film directing instead. Spending his time creating exploitation films, the former luchador and his sister/side-kick Suzi-X accidentally find themselves in the middle of a world-ending bad guy scheme, when the evil Dr Satan kidnaps a woman with the mark of the devil on her arse, with the intent of marrying her and triggering the end of days.
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Starting production somewhere in 2006, El Superbeasto was yet another project of Zombie’s that struggled to find its way to an audience. This time around, however, it was more about the work Zombie was doing to be able to keep his little-known passion project afloat. When Rejects catapulted the director to filmmaker stardom and the offers started to roll in, Rob Zombie suddenly found himself busy offending the world with his Halloween remake, and a little animated film with a 1940’s cartoon feel would just have to wait.
With paying jobs getting in the way, every time Rob was asked about the animated feature, the answer was always a different version of “I’ve gotten busy” or “It’s nearly done”. 2008 saw the director hitting the road to tour the United States – it’s easy to forget at this point that while Zombie is writing and directing films, he’s also writing, recording and touring his music – and as the tour wrapped up, so production kicked in on the crazy animated film. A whole host of original music and songs needed to be put together, but the film was nearly ready.
Roll into 2009 and apparent legal issues once again stalled the film’s release. It was finished but questions of ownership with Starz, the company financing the project, dragged the film further into the year. September 2009 – just in time for Halloween – The Haunted World of El Superbeasto went straight to DVD and instantly found itself a bit of a following. Like most of Zombie’s work, it is a polarising piece to say the very least.
With a phenomenal cast of voices that includes stand-up comic Tom Papa and Sheri Moon Zombie in the roles of Superbeasto and Suzi-X respectively, our time in the fictional Monsterland – a world that seems intent on riffing on, or taking the piss out of, every horror film it can get its grubby mitts on – is a star-studded one. With Paul Giamatti (Straight Outta Compton) as Doctor Satan, and Rosario Dawson (Daredevil) as Velvet Von Black, the foul-mouthed stripper the good doctor wants to make his bride, at the top of the list.
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Backed up by Danny Trejo (From Dusk til Dawn), the legendary Dee Wallace (The Hills Have Eyes) and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark herself, Cassandra Peterson to name but a few. With short appearances by Captain Spaulding and Otis Driftwood (Sid Haig and Bill Moseley), the connection to the Rejects-verse is complete.
The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is one of those comedy movies that you’re either going to love, or you’re going to hate it. It’s not a film you will just think is “ok”, because that’s just not Rob Zombie’s style. It’s loud, it’s crass and it’s sexist to a pretty extreme level. Zombie also waves his middle finger quite clearly for all who hated his Michael Myers movie by running the iconic killer over with his lead character’s car! It’s an outrageous comedy that doesn’t really have any right to exist.
What started off as a little half a million dollar pet project, over the course of three years ballooned in to a ten million dollar, 73 minutes comic book adaptation. For comparison, both Corpses and Rejects had 7 million dollar budgets. But for fans, it was a labour of love worth going through. Because who doesn’t love a couple of dozen giant animated dicks sharing screen time with Rob Zombie’s iconic movie creations and Nazi Werewolves?
I mean it. Who doesn’t love that?