I’ve always marveled at the irony of how polarizing Rob Zombie is with horror fans. I’ve never found anyone neutral in their opinion about him. He’s certainly unique, and he took a very individualistic road to fame. If there ever was a guy that embodied making all of his adolescent fantasies come true about rock and roll and horror, it’s Zombie. We’ve talked about this before, but I felt the need to get this off my chest.
Frankly, I’m jealous. That weird kid you used to talk to in junior high who saw all the movies you couldn’t watch and drew all those cool pictures of metal album covers in his notebook grew up. He’s still has the same sensibilities of that strange kid; it’s just that now, everybody realizes how cool he was all along. He does what he would’ve done anyway and gets paid to do it. We all should have at least some admiration for him just for that.
That’s usually not the consensus, though. With the new 3 From Hell trailer dropping, he’s yet again the focus of the same old player hate. I’m definitely not asking for agreement, but I am respectfully seeking consideration. Here’s why we should be grateful for a guy like Rob Zombie.
He Brought Back A Film Aesthetic That Was Amazing But Nearly Extinct
Zombie was a monster kid who came of age in the 1970s and the early 1980s. He’s watch anything, from creature features, blaxploitation, exploitation, video nasties, and everything else that ever played a drive in, was broadcasted on his local UHF channel, or sat on the wooden shelf of a local Mom and Pop video store.
It all came full circle in the early 2000s, when he was shopping around his film, House of 1000 Corpses. Nobody really knew what to make of it. The climate of horror films at that time consisted of stuff like Underworld and Wrong Turn. Wrong Turn was about a family of cannibals, which House of 1000 Corpses had in common. From the Dr. Wolfenstein opener to Captain Spaulding and veteran character actor Michael J. Pollard in the first ten minutes, it was highly unlikely for a mainstream release, but it hit a sweet spot that fans needed, whether they realized it or not. It became as infamous as any film can be nowadays with the internet.
Zombie already had a reputation from his music videos and stage shows, and now that he had an opportunity to make his very own horror film… it could be anything. Even the title was enigmatic. Once the film was found and passed around, gorehounds loved it! The characters become iconic quickly. Then, Zombie found that there was more story to tell. Remember all those influences from blaxploitation, exploitation, and video nasties? If he didn’t nail them all in its predecessor, The Devil’s Rejects got it absolutely perfect. Zombie pulled off making a 1970s road film as a sequel to a Texas Chain Saw Massacre homage horror film. If nothing else, these two films cemented Zombie’s legacy.
How Many Directors Do You Know That Are Rock Stars, Too?
I don’t know anyone like Rob Zombie. He’s a full-fledged horror film director that has Malcolm McDowell on speed dial, but he still goes on the road and rocks out beside a gigantic inflatable devil head. Few celebrities that I know of can maintain that kind of momentum for nearly two decades now. Usually one venture has to take a backseat to the more successful one. Zombie didn’t want to choose, so he didn’t.
He Honors The Classics, But Is Not Completely Beholden To Them
Here’s where things get sensitive. We all know that the Halloween franchise is hallowed ground. Zombie grew up with it, just like everyone else. So, when he took on the suicide mission of remaking the beloved original, he added things that he always wanted to see about Michael Myers, Loomis. and Laurie. With Halloween II, he threw caution to the wind and made very bold choices. Now that time has passed enough to give some reliable perspective, I think that I would rather have someone like him handling a remake, no matter how seemingly untouchable it is, than a hired studio gun who may have seen part of one film out of the franchise.
I Don’t Know Anything About Rob Zombie’s Political Beliefs
This one is my personal favorites. I know he’s a vegan, and that’s about it. I love horror and and everyone involved with it. However, I find myself weary of constant posts about politics, even coming from some of the legends that I’ve idolized for years. I’ll still admire them, but hearing about this stuff is like asking someone how they are doing and getting a lengthy recap every time, other than a cordial, “Fine, and how are you?” response. It’s interesting the first time, but arduous and monotonous to listen to thereafter. Politics and religion are very personal things, and arguing seldom changes anyone’s opinion, often leading to ill will. Social media and politics produce a toxic Koolaid when mixed together that numbs the common senses and heightens irrational emotions. Zombie put it best when he said:
“If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years is that it is best to not discuss Religion or Politics. It always ends in broken noses… I think because it upsets people to question their faith in things be it Jesus or George Bush. It’s easier to just get angry.”
I’ll admit, after watching the 3 From Hell trailer, I’m hopeful. I’m also concerned, because Captain Spaulding doesn’t look to be in it much, and Richard Brake seems to be taking his place. Once again, if that happens, Zombie will remain unapologetic for his decisions, because he did what he thought would work. We are along for the ride as he drives us down his favorite back roads. Love him or not, if would be a lot less interesting with him.