Robert Bartleh Cummings is popularly known as Rob Zombie and is one of the few people in the world who have managed to have a successful career in cinema and music. Rob Zombie’s work in film includes acting and directing. Born on the 12th of January in 1965, Rob Zombie has always been interested in the art of horror films and how these could be made. He is the first child of his parents and is not the only one in his family who is involved in the arts. Cummings’ younger brother, Michael David, is part of the band, Powerman 5000, where he is the lead singer, while his parents – Robert and Lousie – worked in a carnival where they had to leave due to a riot that broke out at one time.
For his high school education, Cummings attended the local high school in his home town of Haverhill. He moved to New York in the mid-1980s to attend the private arts university, Parsons School of Design. It was during his time at Parsons that he started to actively create art. His first step was with the creation of his band White Zombie with his then-girlfriend, Sean Yseult. At first, he adopted the stage name Rob Straker, however, it was in the late 80s that the artist went from using the stage name ‘Rob Straker’ to been called ‘Rob Zombie’, a name he selected in honor of the first original zombie film, White Zombie.
Rob Zombie started to make and act in movies in 2003 and there is a recurring fascination with horror and the macabre in his music and films. He has experienced some backlash for the thematic preoccupations of his films and has been thrown under the bus by critics time without number. But the iconic artist perseveres in his art and has actually made movies that several audiences have fallen in love with.
He has worked on different types of films but the majority of the work he has done in cinematic films is a total number of seven films. This is a list of the seven Rob Zombie’s movies ranked from best to worst.
Rob Zombie Movies Ranked From Best to Worst
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
This 2005 Rob Zombie movie is considered as the director/writer’s magnum opus. It is ranked highest on the list of all of the films he has made not just with audiences but with critics as well. The Devil’s Rejects is a sequel to the 2003 House of 1000 Corpses, which is Zombie’s directorial debut.
When House of 1000 Corpses ends, we are left with just three living members of the Firefly family who are now on the run from the authorities. In this sequel, Rob Zombie is able to deploy a brilliant tactic and makes out the murderous Firefly family as the protagonists, which is a major turnaround from the image of blood thirty villains that is present in the first film. This he is able to do because the audience had been – for the most of the first film – disgusted by the family’s action to seeing them as heroes who are evading, the bloodthirsty sheriff, John Quincy Wydell. Wydell turns out to not seek them for the sake of bringing them to constitutional justice but to enact his own judgment for their crimes.
For this film, he won the 2006 Chainsaw awards for Scariest Film and Best Screenplay.
Halloween II (2009)
Horror is not the only recurring motif in Rob Zombie’s movies as he is also interested in two-part stories where the story does not end in one film but continues in a sequel. This is why this next film on the list of Rob Zombie movies ranked from best to worst is another sequel just like the first film that was treated.
Halloween II is a 2009 sequel to the events that took place in the first Halloween film which was released two years earlier in 2007. In this movie, Rob Zombie employed elements of horror that dealt with the psychological, as well as the spiritual, with the antagonist of the film sharing telepathic abilities with his sister while also suffering from a mental illness. These two factors combine to make the antagonist the monster he portrayed. Although the film’s prequel was based on a 1978 horror film of the same name, Halloween II is only based on events from the first film and it is the only part of this two-part film that is an original film. The cast features the talents of Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane and Sheri Moon Zombie, all of who reprised the roles they played in the first film.
The Lords of Salem (2012)
Like all his other movies, Rob Zombie, wrote, directed and produced this film. The Lords of Salem ranks high in the list of his best to worst films and one of the reasons for this is the nostalgic effect the film has especially as it draws inferences from the story of the Salam Witches and their trial.
Rob Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, acts in all his films, and in this film, she plays the lead character Heidi, who is a DJ at a radio station that only plays rock music. Heidi is going through a recovery period after battling drug addiction for a long time. But being a former addict is not the only special thing about her. She is a direct descendant of a man; Rev. Hawthorne who in the 17th century was cursed by women who he claimed were witches and created music that will be used to control women in the town of Salem. The curse was extended to his descendants who Heidi happens to be part of.
The characters in this film are unlike the characters in Zombie’s other films where death is the primary source of their horror. In this film, Rob Zombie plays with the eerie and spiritual notion of curses.
In 1978, Halloween was released to critical and financial success. The performances of Donald Pleasence, Nick Castle, and Jamie Lee Curtis were highly praised and the film came to be known as one of the greatest films from the horror film genre.
In 2007, Rob Zombie decides to recreate the story in the first film and he ends up making a film that critics hated. The characters remained the same with just a few modifications to their stories and how they relate to one another. When Zombie had asked John Carpenter the director of the original Halloween for permission to make his version of the film, Carpenter had told him to make his own film without relying on material from the 1978 version of the film. Zombie’s film was able to make a profit of $64 million and some critics felt it was a great tribute to the original which it is was based on.
Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns and in this Rob Zombie movie, the writer/director harnesses the existence of this fear to make the film. Set in 1976, during the Halloween holiday, five people who work in a carnival are kidnapped by a group of three who make them play a game called ’31’. The game requires the five kidnapped people to fight clowns who are set to kill them. The fighting was scheduled to happen for only a stipulated time and if they are still alive when the clock runs out, they are freed.
Each of these clowns is named after perverse and mentally defunct behaviors; Psycho-Head, Sex-Head, Sick-Head, Doom-Head, Death-Head, and Schizo-Head. Of the five kidnapped people, only one person is able to get out. The film ends with a cliff hanger.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
This is Rob Zombie’s first cinematic creation and although it was filmed in 2000 it was not until three years after that it was released and distributed by Lionsgate Films. With this Rob Zombie film, he takes on the common troupe of group killings that is common in the horror film genre.
A group of four people is conducting research for a book and on their way, they pick a hitchhiker who invites them over to her house. This invite leads them down the path of their death. The biggest tragedy for this group is that by the end of the film – which happens in its sequel – their murderers are not vilified rather they become heroes of some sorts by machinations employed by Zombie in his writing of the films.
House of 1000 Corpses was made with a budget of $7 million and from just box office sales made $16.8 million. Critics panned the film for being cheesy and not living up to the other horror films Zombie obviously drew inspiration from.
The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009)
This Rob Zombie film is the least performing of all his films and it did not even make an appearance at the box office, making it a direct to DVD movie. Despite its failings, it is one of its kind in the horror film genre as it is an animated musical horror film.