Love him or hate him, Rob Zombie is truly a trailer park Renaissance Man: from music to writing to graphic arts to film, he seems to put his greasy fingers into any warm pie that will let him. And now, after four live action horror films—Halloween II (2009 / trailer), Halloween (2007 / trailer), The Devil's Rejects (2005 / trailer) and House of 1000 Corpses (2003 / trailer)—that share a penchant for ingenious visual overdosing but vary greatly in narrative quality and overall effect, Zombie has chosen to wiggle his fingers within the fecund genre of animation. To do so, he has returned to his graphic novel The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (published by Image Comics in 2007) to create a film of the same name. And what a film it is!
With The Haunted World of El Superbeasto Zombie has made the perfect animated film for the pimply, hormone-crazed 15-year-old horror fan still alive within all grown men. A rollercoaster of violence, T&A, and clichéd and inspired dialog, one-liners and visual jokes and references, the story of The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is less linear than it is a gossamer strand which he uses as an excuse to toss out funny and flat jokes, tits and ass, tasteless laughs, tits and ass, blood, tits and ass, horror, tits and ass, inspired idiocy and tits and ass. Much of the plot development is abridged and compacted within the numerous musical interludes which span in style from heavy metal to country to discofied, and while none of the songs will ever get radio rotation, they are all highly entertaining ditties of degenerate taste.
The "Haunted World" that is that of El Superbeasto is a netherworld populated by classic and non-classic film monsters and babes with big ta-tas drawn in a style that is more reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s than, say, Disney films. El Superbeasto is an obnoxious, pussy-obsessed and nylon-suited luchador (imagine a verbose Charles Burns's El Borbah with a Saturday Night Fever [1977 / trailer] wardrobe) with an overrated sense of self-importance who makes porno films by day and saves the world by night—providing he isn’t too busy chasing poontang.
Rather unlike his hot blonde sister Suzi X, who is first seen on a mission to steal Hitler's head (on loan from They Saved Hitler's Brain (1963 / key scene) and who spends much of the film fighting Nazi zombies when she isn’t playing with the clutch of her of her horny robot car Murray. The stripper Velvet Von Black makes El Superbeasto’s chorizo move mightily, but before they can play patty-cake Dr. Satan has his talking ape Otto kidnap her: it seems she carries the mark of the devil on her ass, and if she and Dr. Satan unite, then Dr. Satan shall gain unlimited demonic power. Can El Superbeasto keep his mind on track long enough to stop Dr. Satan and save the world?
Aside from Zombie Nazis and Hitler’s head, almost every monster or cult favorite of cinema has a cameo in the film—Zombie even manages to toss in a Benny Hill cameo, a reference so uncool that it's cool again. Indeed, the jokes and visual puns are very much of a take no prisoners mentality—obviously enough, if you throw a lot of shit around, some of it will stick eventually; luckily for Zombie, most of his shit seems to stick. More than one scene will have you shaking your head long after the film is over—the rat shitting scene or the toe-sucking scene deserve special mention in this regard.
From the wonderfully traditional opening credit sequence underscored by some excellent traditional film music to the country closing number of the film, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is as inspired as it is sophomoric, as intelligently stupid as it is tasteless and sexist, as fun and funny as it is embarrassing—and therein lies its charm, if “charm” is even what you can call it. For all its horror film trappings, the film is never intentionally (or unintentionally) scary, and focuses instead on using the vocabulary of the genre—and the vocabulary of an overly hip, 15-year-old sailor—to take the piss out of anything and everything.
Simply put, if you like tits, horror and animation, you can’t go wrong with The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.