Swapping out torture for giggles, Rob Zombie is set to make his return to the big screen with The Munsters; though, fans are still questioning whether or not another much-loved horror series will see a collaboration with the director.
Rob Zombie is returning to the director’s chair with upcoming reboot of the 1950s horror-comedy series The Munsters. With a short teaser recently released, we can already tell it’s going to be fun-filled barrel of laughs that pays homage to the beloved sitcom. Now, family friendly comedy isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a Zombie movie; brutal torture, controversial themes, black humour, and foul-mouthed, irredeemable villains are usually at the forefront of his films.
Perhaps his most notable venture onto the big screen is his Firefly trilogy, telling the story of diabolical serial killing family The Fireflies across a decade of crime. From their debut in House of 1000 Corpses to their last hurrah in 3 From Hell, the Firefly clan are incredibly endearing despite their inhumane methods of torture.
The trilogy is heavily inspired by horrors of the 1970s with a particular focus on Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes – incidentally, both films share a commonality in its depiction of cannibalism and savagery. Admittedly, House of 1000 Corpses is a little sketchy compared to its stronger sequel and immediate follow-up The Devils Rejects; even Zombie has expressed his thoughts on this.
There’s a lot going on. We never really get a sense of where the narrative’s going, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for the most part, we’re left subjected to a nightmarish, grisly take on a road trip gone wrong. The Devils Rejects, on the other hand, ups the ante and welcomes a well thought out and executed tonal shift and ultimately takes off with a better pace than the film that comes before.
The Devils Rejects is where we see Zombie’s appreciation for 70s horror shine through; splitting the narrative between the Firefly clan, a group of unsuspecting, soon-to-be victims, and a brute sheriff whose method of authority borders on satanic. Where House of 1000 Corpses captures the disturbing aesthetic of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, particularly the dinner scene, The Devils Rejects brings character to its villainous protagonists.
Zombie perfects a balancing act; he leaves you thirsty for the dark humour that comes naturally to the Firefly family; they share a powerful camaraderie, their chemistry flourishes, and as sinister as they may be, you absolutely cannot resist being drawn in by their dynamic. There’s nothing objectively likeable about them, but they’re the heart of the series.
It’s the very same charm that’s been prominently absent from the Texas Chainsaw franchise, especially as of recently; the latest instalment, which came out earlier this year, is a baseless attempt to reconcile fans of the original and branch out into the same retcon territory we’ve seen from Halloween.
The Texas Chainsaw timeline is a convoluted mess of self-destruction. Every time it tries to make a turnaround, it plummets deeper into its own grave. They’ve given it the reset, reboot, and prequel treatment countless times, though none have lived up to the first of the series. At this rate, it’s probably a safe bet to say this is one franchise that needs to be put to rest. Yet, redemption could be on the table, and the saviour could come in the form of Rob Zombie.
Any frequent Zombie viewer knows that he’s all about style, and his range is perfectly suited to Texas Chainsaw; his directional debut with House of 1000 Corpses highlights how far he willing to go in terms of reinventing the genre while paying close homage to the original material. It’s practically a Texas Chainsaw movie without the iconic antagonist and branded title.
Fans have been sharing their hope for Zombie to tackle an official project within the franchise across a number of years; instead, we received a background heavy, character driven reboot to John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher Halloween. Does it work? Kinda. You definitely know you’re watching a Rob Zombie movie so the fresh spin is there; it’s just not what you expect from Halloween, the aesthetic doesn’t match, at least not in the way it would Texas Chainsaw.
The project would probably be a hit. We’ve seen what Zombie has accomplished previously; this is right up his street. It wouldn’t take much trying for him to nail down the atmosphere, even the setting would become a character in its own right. Zombie has no problem delving into exploitive horror and portraying the corrosion of the era’s political climate.
If there’s one person who is best suited for the challenge, it’s Zombie, so should we cross our fingers for his touch being lent to another horror reboot? As much as we’d love to see what a legit Zombie/Texas Chainsaw collab would look like, we’ve already had a peak at one to quench our thirst; the 2003 cult-classic House of 1000 Corpses is exactly why Zombie can steer clear of adding Texas Chainsaw to his résumé.
House of 1000 Corpses is a love note to the horror genre, specifically targeting the 1970s. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. Those kind of films, the ones that inspired Zombie’s trilogy, work because they don’t stray too far off from reality; they don’t have to try hard, if at all, to be scary. If Zombie were to give The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the Midas touch, we wouldn’t complain; but we shouldn’t be so quick to forget where his filmmaking journey began.