Author: Michael Pementel
Everyday we find ourselves more and more excited for the Rob Zombie Munsters movie; so we thought to ourselves: Why not rank all the Rob Zombie movies?
The goal of this ranking list is to review each movie and breakdown the quality of Zombie’s work; to explore what each movie has to offer, and which ones stand out stronger compared to one another.
For the purposes of this list, the one cinematic work of Zombie’s we left out is that of Werewolf Women of the SS; it doesn’t feel fair to classify this picture as a full-fledge movie or even a short film – it’s more so a teaser that’s just part of the 2007 movie Grindhouse.
As always, this is our personal ranking, and it may differ compared to yours. What do you think the best Rob Zombie movie is?
Without further ado, here is our ranking of each Rob Zombie movie from worst to best!
8. 3 from Hell
We at The Pit really love our Rob Zombie movies, but holy shit, this thing is a mess. At times, it plays out as a carbon copy of the fan beloved The Devil’s Rejects; beyond its issues of repetition though, it does little to expand upon Zombie’s artistry. While the film does offer some brutal moments that horror fans will get a rush out of, 3 from Hell is just so much rehashed material and it is a damn shame. There is also an element of sadness associated with this film, given that it is the last movie that horror legend (and long time Rob Zombie collaborator) Sid Haig took part in prior to this passing.
The diehard fans have of course seen 3 from Hell, but this is arguably the one Rob Zombie movie that is (unfortunately) super weak.
There is a lot to like about 31; though its narrative is not the most original when it comes to horror narratives, there is plenty of Rob Zombie style that elevates this murder game scenario. While featuring a plethora of wild characters, one of the biggest strengths to that of 31 is Richard Brake’s Doom-Head – what an absolute bad ass and chilling character. Thanks to Brake, 31 has possibly one of the eeriest openings to that of a Rob Zombie movie. What ends up hurting this film though is the technicality associated with it. The camera work reaches a bizarre level of shakiness that ends up down-playing or obscuring the action taking place (which can make it difficult to follow what is happening in a scene). If you can look past those technical issues though, 31 still makes for a rush.
6. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto
This animated feature is an absolute blast and hilarious time. Compared to other Rob Zombie movies though, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is more so a work of comedy that utilizes horror imagery, rather than being a work of grit and horror like Zombie has created in the past. That said, this is an animated feature meant for adults, for the film is packed with violence, sexual imagery, and vulgar humor. At the time of this writing, it is really Zombie’s best example of comedy work. The Haunted World of El Superbeasto makes for a surreal trip into animation.
Remakes of classic horror movies can sometimes be looked down upon, but you know what, we really like the Rob Zombie Halloween remake. While bringing a much more savage Michael Myers to the silver screen (as compared to other versions of Myers), Zombie also offers audiences a more… personal Michael Myers. This is perhaps the one big point of debate among horror fans, given that The Shape (Michael Myers) is supposed to be the embodiment of evil. We find that the origin that Zombie has created helps to build upon that myth – that this boy has become so consumed by evil, that now he is a force of nature. As big fans of the original Halloween movie, we may be part of the minority, but we think that between the horror action and elements of psychology taking place, the Rob Zombie Halloween movie is pretty killer!
4. House of 1000 Corpses
Rob Zombie’s first ever movie is that of 2003’s House of 1000 Corpses. Playing off of films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses has garnered one of the biggest cult followings in all of horror movie history. While the film did not do super well critically upon its initial release, it is that cult following that would help bring the film into the greater cinema light. Throughout House of 1000 Corpses, Zombie isn’t doing anything super new (as compared to other previous hillbilly slashers of the past), but more importantly, he uses the film to introduce his cinematic style.
We think Zombie is a great director – an artist with a vision and who knows how to create exactly what he wants in a movie. House of a 1000 Corpses established Rob Zombie’s filmmaking style. From his grindhouse homages to his vulgar and hilarious dialogue, to his over-the-top violence and character writing, this is the film to show a newcomer to Rob Zombie movies if they want to know what the horror-rocker is all about.
3. Halloween II
Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is a greatly overlooked film. In many ways, it is the predecessor for what makes the number two movie on this list so incredible. We understand the criticism that has been thrown at this film, but if you are willing to look past the surface, you will find a truly fascinating work when it comes to a Rob Zombie movie.
As a direct sequel to Rob Zombie’s Halloween movie, Halloween II actually does something that is sort of rare for a Rob Zombie movie – it takes the time to explore a character. That isn’t to bash Zombie’s character writing, but we don’t always get deep character studies of his characters. The Laurie Strode of Zombie’s Halloween II offers audiences a haunting depiction of a person consumed by trauma; through the film, we see how Laurie’s trauma wreaks havoc on her life. While not the most concrete work of psychological horror in cinema, we are taken down a real dark and unsettling path through Zombie’s Laurie, and frankly, it’s a hell of a time.
Zombie also gets real bold here with more experimental pacing and subtext, blending realism with that of the psychological. Whereas so many other Rob Zombie movies focus on physical horror (e.g. slashers), Halloween II is real strong step away from Zombie’s typical cinema beats.
Without a doubt, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is a truly underappreciated gem.
2. The Lords of Salem
2012’s The Lords of Salem is truly one of Zombie’s most interesting movies. If you’ve been watching Rob Zombie movies since House of 1000 Corpses, then The Lords of Salem sort of has a “out of left field” vibe to it. Whereas Halloween II showed off Zombie’s chops at creating a more experimental slasher film, The Lords of Salem displays the artist taking traits from that previous work, and creating a nightmarish and powerful film.
The movie is by far Zombie’s most visually intriguing work; Zombie has played around with dream sequences throughout his movies, but besides that of Halloween II, The Lords of Salem is his most twisted visual masterpiece. From witches to demons, The Lords of Salem makes for a captivating narrative that is as haunting as it is trippy as fuck.
The Lords of Salem is such a fascinating work from a guy who really made a name for himself creating two successful hillbilly slasher horror flicks; it is a film that displays that, while he is great at doing one thing, he is also so capable of doing other things.
It is an incredible film and we would love to see Zombie take on more daring projects like this. Prior to the release of 3 from Hell, Zombie has brought up a plethora of intriguing ideas that would have been awesome to see. But whether it’s his The Blob remake, his Tyrannosaurus Rex movie, or that of his Groucho Marx movie – none have seen the light of day.
We would love to see Zombie expand upon his artistry – to see what other horrors he can provide for audiences. Works like Halloween II and The Lords of Salem hint at so much, and maybe in time, we’ll get other films from him brimming with psychological and supernatural terror.
1. The Devil’s Rejects
But, if you want to see Zombie at his best, look no further than The Devil’s Rejects.
While House of a 1000 Corpses is what established Zombie’s cinematic style for moviegoers, and other films of his have offered intriguing takes on his style – The Devil’s Rejects is by far the pinnacle as to what makes a Rob Zombie movie so fucking gripping. It is an incredibly polished film, displaying a strong technicality, with excellent cinematography that lingers on unnerving moments and aims to elevate visceral actions of violence. When it comes to Zombie’s character writing, there is an incredible chemistry among the main trio of this film, which in turn, creates such a conflicting and intriguing stance for the audience; the trio are horrific monsters, but also our protagonists we end up getting close to.
The Devil’s Rejects forgoes much of the wacky dark humor found in House of 1000 Corpses (while still containing some of course), opting for a more cruel and violent presentation of madness. It is the film that displays the best of Zombie’s technical eye, the strongest quality of his writing chops, and the best of his direction when it comes to creating brutal and unrelenting horror.
What do you think of our ranking of Rob Zombie movies? How much do you agree or disagree with us? What do you think is his best movie? We wonder where the upcoming Rob Zombie Munsters movie might fit among our ranking.