Stream to Scream: “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: Rob Zombie’s THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO.
There’s many differing opinions on Rob Zombie’s filmography yet one cannot say that his output is monotonous. From the neon-soaked grindhouse horror of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES to his brutally grounded take on HALLOWEEN, Zombie almost reinventa his filmmaking style with every new film project. And while his output has polarized audiences as to whether he’s deserving of the “master of horror” mantle, horror fans often overlook the most radically different of his cinematic offerings: the 2009 animated horror comedy, THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO.
A mixture between the gross-out cartoon aesthetics of REN AND STIMPY and the violent fantasy of HEAVY METAL, EL SUPERBEASTO is Zombie’s first outright comedic film. However, the universe of EL SUPERBEASTO is an encyclopedic assembly of horror tropes, settings and characters, appropriated to the manic film’s narrative needs. And while the humor itself is mostly juvenile as well as incredibly hit-or-miss, the silliness of EL SUPERBEASTO and its dedication to over-the-top violence makes it all the more unique.
Those expecting the grim, visceral style of Rob Zombie’s previous work will undoubtedly be disappointed, as THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO explores Zombie’s more lighthearted side as a storyteller. But that doesn’t mean EL SUPERBEASTO is appropriate for younger horrorhounds, as the film is packed with graphic cartoon nudity, language and violence. If anything, EL SUPERBEASTO shows off Zombie and co-writer/star Tom Papa’s diverse knowledge of horror, throwing in nods to every major icon of fright in between scatterbrained gags of questionable taste.
For those interested, THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO follows professional wrestler-turned-entertainer El Superbeasto (Papa) as he teams with his sister Suzi-X (Sheri Moon Zombie) to rescue stripper Velvet Von Black (Rosario Dawson) from the pitifully evil Dr. Satan (Paul Giamatti). Along the way they encounter hordes of nazi zombies, giant monsters and even characters from Zombie’s other films, most of whom encounter unfortunate, bloody fates. Nevertheless, given the animated nature of the proceedings, the film never leaves the realm of the absurd, punctuating each gruesome moment with irreverent nonsense.
For some, Zombie’s penchant for scatological humor and cheap double entendres may be too grating, yet there’s a certain childlike mischief in his approach to THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO. His humor matches the colorful and imaginative world that the film exists within, and his passion for the horror genre has never been more apparent than here. The animation from Film Roman is wonderful, relishing in the chance to go into almost pornographic territory while taking visual cues from late ‘60s comic book imagery. Lastly, the original music from comedic duo Hard ‘n Phirm deserves much credit, often times taking a meta stance towards the action on screen to create genuinely hilarious moments.
With EL SUPERBEASTO being a Rob Zombie production, one can only expect a cavalcade of genre-friendly talent to show up, which Zombie offers in spades. Papa is pretty funny and comfortable providing the voice for the foul-mouthed El Superbeasto, matched only in enthusiasm and gusto by Mrs. Zombie. Dawson and Giamatti add super crass and insane vocal performances of their own, complemented by such voice acting veterans such as Tom Kenny, Brian Posehn, John DiMaggio and Rob Paulson. Furthermore, horror fans will get a kick out of small, bizarre appearances by Ken Foree, Dee Wallace, Clint Howard, Geoffrey Lewis and Danny Trejo.
Overall, THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO is not Zombie’s best film by a long shot, particularly due to several rough patches of flat humor, but it’s energy and lack of restraint surely makes it a memorable one. It’s a letter of love from Zombie to both animation and horror, and with Papa in tow both as a collaborator and performer, Zombie goes to perverse places one may not have expected to be taken. Although recommended with lowered expectations, THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO combines amoral anarchy with animation to make a fun, wild and crude experience unlike any other.