The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is Rob Zombie’s love letter to the exploitation movies of the 50s and 60s, whilst embracing the video nasties of the 80s. The films of Russ Meyer mingle with She Wolf of the SS animated in the style of Fritz the Cat. Sound like an absolute mess? You’re absolutely right.
El Superbeasto is a one joke affair that probably started with Zombie thinking ‘wouldn’t it be funny if a porn star/ex-luchador took on a man pretending to be the Devil?’. He then sat down with a 13 year, gave him rough summary and let the kid get to work on a script with crayons and a copy of Zoo.
It’s like the cinematic equivalent of a Slurpee. The animation is bright and vibrant enough to entice you, but after you’ve finished you realise that there is no nutritional value to be taken from it at all. The first scene is a porn movie which ends abruptly when the female leads are turned into demons and El Superbeasto has to mince them up and you’d think it couldn’t get any more up in your face. You’d be wrong. What follows next is a sea of gore, meta-references, breasts, breasts, breasts, nazis, breasts, horny robots, talking gorillas, Manchester United references and breasts. And despite all this, it’s extremely boring. After the 14th decapitation, I found myself looking at my watch and wondering if the pubs were still open. I don’t think the film wants to deliberately shock you, but it most certainly wants to recognised as being edgy. Look at me, it cries, I have Hitler’s head in a jar! Please like me! Please!
After the shock of ennui has passed (and it’ll take a while), the second biggest shock is the cast they’ve roped in. Paul Giamatti and Rosario Dawson must have either received an unexpected gas bill or their agent lied, because without the Ralph Bakshi-esque animation this must have looked like a miserable piece of work written down. Giamatti is entertaining enough as Dr Satan; the typical school nerd turned supervillan, but Dawson as his bride, Velvet von Black, is horrific from beginning to end. Spouting numerous cliches from blaxpoltation movies, she is the worst minor-character since Fat Bastard.
The bottom line is that El Superbeasto wants to be inappropriately funny, but in reality, it’s just inappropriate.