With the release of The Munsters, let's take a look at the impact Rob Zombie has made on the industry (all of it).
I didn’t grow up with Rob Zombie the way others did with Rob Zombie. I knew of his name in movies and music, but it was just a passing thought that eventually evaporated in my mind.
It wasn’t until I became immersed in cinema culture that I noticed his name pop up. I had to learn what his part was to play for movies to make sense of why he was talked about in divisive ways. Most of the stuff I learned was negative responses. People were not a fan of the new Halloween remake or its sequel. Even the diehard fans of Rob Zombie have been unimpressed with some of his newer movies.
We get many horror directors that make the mark or don't make the cut, but what is about Rob Zombie that he's talked about differently than other horror movie directors?
As a head's up, this dissection into the career of Rob Zombie will focus on his works in film.
He admitted that he went too far with his first film
House of 1000 Corpses was the directorial debut of his first film about lost tourists that end up trapped in the Firefly Family's torture house.
It didn't go well, it defiantly lived up to its name but audiences were not impressed by the amount of gore with the lack of story.
He learned from his experience of his first movie and instead of giving up like most directors do for their first movie, he learned that less is more when he gave us The Devil's Rejects.
The Devil’s Rejects is sort of like a steak with the fat cut off. It still has violence but it doesn’t feel that the violence leads the movie and we have time to sit with all characters.
The Firefly family is an interesting mishmash of chaotic characters, but they weren't focused on in the first film despite being the focus of the film. Rob Zombie confessed that the movie he created felt like a long music video than a feature-length film.
We had time to sit with these shocking moments and process them. There was breathing room in the scenes before we would be shown another shocking moment. It's nothing new to see violent actions in a horror movie, but it matters in the pace that it's presented. If there’s going to be something horrific, it has to count, it can’t just be shocking with no substance to it.
He wanted to continue the story of the Firefly family and we got a better introduction than the introduction movie. He knew that the only way to do it was to not do the same thing he did before and it shows that he took the time to be better.
Giving the chance to music that never got the chance
But there’s also something else to appreciate with the Devil’s rejects it breathes new life for music that never got its accolades.
The soundtrack is phenomenal for what Rob Zombie chose to get the atmosphere for this movie in the 70s. Of all the songs that were given the highlight treatment. But the BEST by far was Terry Reid.
Hear me out on this. When you look at the scene from the Devil's Rejects when the firefly family is under attack by the unholy gang, this scene hits harder because of the music.
The audience can process what’s going on, the firefly family is under attack and we don’t hear the dialogue going on we don’t hear the gunshots, we don’t hear the crashing. Just having a song playing in the background makes more of an impact. Having one song play and then having several different sounds makes the scene stronger.
To add more on that note, Rob Zombie did the singer a solid by including his music there to get his songs introduced to a generation that forgot about him. Terry Reid said that if it wasn’t for the Devil’s Rejects, people would not have known about his music in the 70s.
I wouldn't have known about Terry Reid if it wasn't for The Devil's Rejects, Anytime I mention the song "Seed Of Memory" I always credit where I heard it from.
Moving onto the movie that people are still divided on, Halloween.
The First Remake
I’m not a fan of the Halloween series so I’m at a disadvantage for not being a fan. But I’ve heard the general reaction about how people feel about his turn on what many consider to be the top tier of horror.
We know that Michael Myers snapped one day and killed his family, but what happened in his life before the snap? Were the murderous tendencies always there?
The beginning of the remake takes a slow-burn approach to show Michael's life. It was a different twist to use the film's first half to expand on Michael's life. In the original, we followed Laurie Strode as she was stalked by The Shape.
The scenes of Michael Myers's childhood are a staple of good storytelling decisions on Zombie's direction to retell a classic slasher. Over the years fans of the Halloween series have given the credit to the fair shot that no one gave to Rob Zombie.
He created something raw and real in that opening without much blood and gore. What John Carpenter showed a few minutes into the film to shock the audience to see a young child in a clown costume, Rob Zombie showed us what happened leading up to the murder and after the murder.
Just like with The Devil's Rejects, it showed he didn't go back to basics for the engorging on mindless violence. He could have returned in the same direction of goresplortation and made Halloween more violent than its predecessor...but he didn't. After Halloween, a majority of his films have been less and less gore.
That does show the growth he has had as a director. The films he's put out over the past decade haven't been phenomenal since his first few films, but the stories have gotten better. He doesn't rely on gore to shock an audience like he used to, I think he's doing what he wants to but with creative realism to know what works and what doesn't. He still does bring something macabre and horrifying but it doesn't feel like he's trying too hard.
After flying under the radar for years, the news of his plans to remake the classic show The Munsters had fans interested. Over the years fans and audiences have seen his work for how he changed. Fans were ready knowing The Munsters would be in the hands of someone that doesn't rely upon gore to tell a story.
When the movie premiered on Netflix...the census was surprisingly forgiving because of the past movies Rob Zombie has done. If he did The Munsters during the time he was still learning to be a director, The Munsters wouldn't have turned out the way it did. It's not a critical box office darling but it did do something different while also being an homage to the days of 1960s TV. There are a lot of various movie gems and TV trivia to find in the film.
Underneath the surface of the remake, look at the fact that this is how far Rob Zombie has climbed as a director. He did something completely different and showed he could do it.
Rob Zombie isn't a director that is everyone's cup of tea, but there's been more credit to his craft as a director that makes him stand out in the horror culture. Is there any other director that has taken more accountability? Probably, but not in the evolution that Rob Zombie has.