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The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009)

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc released: 9/22/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/1/2009

Throughout his career, Rob Zombie has been a divisive entertainer. His band White Zombie played a brand of psychedelic, fuzzed out punk-metal, but the campy vocals and visuals flew in the face of metal conventions. When Zombie went solo, some of his music bordered on industrial, almost danceable, music, which I'm sure angered some fans. Then, he branched out into making movies. His first film, House of 1000 Corpses, was long delayed, and its mix of genres split fans and critics. (Some wanted horror, some wanted camp, few were fully satisfied.) His next film, The Devil's Rejects, was a more complete offering, but its brutality was too much for some. Then, he remade Halloween, sullying the reputation of one of the greatest movies ever made. Now, Zombie has branched out into animation with The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. Prepare yourself for more debate from both sides.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto focuses on the titular character, El Superbeasto (voiced by Tom Papa), a conceited luchadore. He considers himself a ladies' man and wants everyone to adore him. He goes to a bar where he sees stripper Velvet Von Black (voiced by Rosario Dawson), and he's instantly attracted to her. But, the evil Dr. Satan (voiced by Paul Giamatti) also has his eye on Velvet, as he wants to make her his bride. Dr. Satan believes that if he marries Velvet, he will be endowed with supernatural powers. Meanwhile, Superbeasto's sister Suzi X (voiced by Sheri Moon Zombie) is fighting Nazi zombies with the aid of her robot, Murray (voiced by Brian Posehn). When Dr. Satan kidnaps Velvet, Superbeasto rushes to rescue her and he calls Suzi for assistance.

From past experiences, I know that Rob Zombie is into classic horror movies, foreign horror movies, Mexican wrestling, strippers, and a sort of white trash culture. Thus, I expected The Haunted World of El Superbeasto to contain some or all of these elements. But, having never read the comic book (also created by Zombie) that serves as the source material for this project, I really didn't know what to expect overall.

One thing that I never expected was for this movie to be so immature. Despite the fact that Rob Zombie deals in a lot of campy horror, he also seemed to take it very seriously. (And his live action feature films are certainly serious and brutal, showing little levity.) But, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto wants to be a comedy, which is very surprising. While the piece does feature all of the elements for which Zombie is famous, they are featured in a highly stylized and comic manner. The animation is very reminiscent of something from John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy), as everything is very exaggerated and over-the-top.

The problem is that nothing here works...at all. Critics often claim that on a 12-year old boy could like a certain movie, but that stereotype truly fits here. I can't imagine anyone else finding a shred of appeal in The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. The synopsis given above may sound somewhat coherent, but in this insanely edited movie, story takes a back-seat to fast-paced visuals. The bulk of the movie consists of topless women spouting profanity. I wish that I was making that up, but it's true. If you're a fan of cartoon nudity, then this is the movie for you, if not, you're going to think that the 77-minute running time is several days. The script consists of one 7th grade level sex joke after another, none of which are funny. The story is accompanied by psychobilly (I guess) music by Hard 'n Phirm (?!) which adds nothing to the movie. Another thing which doesn't help is that none of the characters are likable. Superbeasto is too pompous, Suzi is too vapid, Dr. Satan is too dull, and Velvet may be the most caustic character ever to grace the screen. The entire experience is a cacophony of apathy.

The big question here is how did Rob Zombie entice people like Paul Giamatti and Rosario Dawson to be in something like this? Didn't they get to see the script? Typically I give a movie the benefit of the doubt and state that it should appeal to a certain group, but the only people who would like The Haunted World of El Superbeasto aren't old enough to see it.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto can't keep its shirt on on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image looks fantastic, as it's very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are out of this world, and nearly leap off of the screen. The primary colors will remind you why Blu-ray is superior. The animation runs smoothly and shows no jagged lines or stuttering. The Disc offers a Linear PCM 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 4.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This lossless track sounds great, as the stereo and surround sound effects try their best to liven up the action. The stereo is very detailed and the surround sound effects are never too subtle. The action scenes and music deliver some solid subwoofer effects.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto contains a few extras. The "Full Length Animatic" is the entire movie in animated storyboard form. "Deleted Scenes & Shots" (4 minutes) contains 22 selections, some of which are only a few seconds long. Unlike most films, these are all fully animated and in color. "Alternate Scenes" (35 minutes) plays more like the kind of deleted animated scenes to which we are accustomed. The selections here are mostly in black and white and some are onlly partially animated, while others are just storyboards. Some of these are truly deleted scenes, while most are simply early versions of moments from the finished movie.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long