HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Saturday, August 29, 2009


If you ever wanted to see Rob Zombie's mind take a technicolor dump, then THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO is just the movie for you.

Combining a whirlwind of influences from Ralph Bakshi, John Kricfalusi, Adult Swim, R. Crumb, underground comics in general, HEAVY METAL, old theatrical cartoons, classic Universal horror flicks, and probably a ton more that I missed, this colorful and visually delightful conglomeration of dirty jokes and ADD-friendly action comes at us like all the different elements are being stuffed into a cannon and fired through the screen. Some of it sticks, while a whole bunch of it just flies in all directions. It's as though Robin Williams' genie character from ALADDIN improvised the script while tripping his ass off on acid and crystal meth.

El Superbeasto is a Santo-like Mexican wrestler-slash-actor (he wears a suit and a mask) with a magnificently massive ego who loves gorgeous babes with magnificently massive hooters. His sister, Suzy X, is an eyepatch-wearing super-sexy superheroine who battles Zombie Nazis with the help of her lovesick and painfully horny robot pal, Murray (who is right out of the 1939 Bela Lugosi serial THE PHANTOM CREEPS).

Meanwhile, their nerdy high school nemesis Steve Wachowski has reinvented himself as Dr. Satan and is searching for a woman with the numbers "666" on her ass. Once he marries her, according to legend, he'll be transformed into a fearsome, unstoppable colossus to whom El Superbeasto will never, ever give another wedgie again. The woman with the fateful mark on her tush turns out to be spectacularly-endowed stripper Velvet von Black, who is kidnapped by Dr. Satan's gorilla henchman Otto as a smitten El Superbeasto follows the trail. All of this results, as you may have guessed, in a final showdown with El Superbeasto and Suzy X battling a super-sized Dr. Satan, his minions, and those pesky Zombie Nazis.

It goes without saying that this movie doesn't take itself very seriously, which is a plus. I didn't find all of it funny--the jokes, good and bad, just keep pummelling us non-stop until the whole thing is somewhat numbing--but it's tuneful and fun. Amidst all the frenetic activity, I found the quiet, subtle scenes with ape-henchman Otto and Lenny the schlubby elevator operator in Dr. Satan's castle to be the most laugh-out-loud funny. As for the songs by Hard 'N' Phirm, they're often delightfully twisted and amusing comments on the action. The Zombie Nazi theme is especially fun as it reels off lyrics that are simply the most painfully obvious stream-of-consciousness exposition set to music.

Creatures of all kinds fill the screen along with a bevy of outrageously sexy (in a cartoon sense, that is) babes. Velvet von Black is so hot, in fact, that her theme song contains the line: "She could suck the gay right off a painting of a unicorn." Another song which is heard as Dr. Satan enjoys a wank in his private bed chamber tells us:

"It's all right to jerk off to cartoons
The Japanese do it every day
So rub one out for the USA."

Super-stacked action babe Suzy X keeps her robot ally Murray in a constant state of excitation, especially when he transforms into a vehicle that Suzy operates via a strategically-placed joystick. And, needless to say, there's a Suzy vs. Velvet catfight setpiece.

Younger viewers may recognize a few of the guest cameos that pop up all over the place, but the majority of cultural references that Rob Zombie has lovingly stuffed into this movie will just sail right over their heads. The first few minutes should be a real treat for Universal horror fans--they're a reproduction of the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN'S opening titles right down to the music, visuals, and that famous "friendly warning" from Edward van Sloan.

The vocal talent is pretty impressive. I'd never heard of comedian Tom Papa, who voices El Superbeasto, but he's very good. Sheri Moon Zombie is perfect as Suzy X since she already sounds like a cartoon anyway, and Rosario Dawson ably spouts all of Velvet von Black's incessant homegirl blather. "Mr. Show" faves Brian Posehn and Tom Kenny breathe comic life into Murray and Otto, respectively, while Paul Giamatti is dastardly nerd Dr. Satan.

Other notable voices include Danny Trejo as Rico, Dee Wallace as Trixie, Tura Satana as Varla, Geoffrey Lewis as Lenny, Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson as Amber, Clint Howard as Joe Cthulu, Daniel Roebuck as talk show host Morris Green, Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD) as Luke St. Luke, and Laraine Newman as Betty Sue Lou. Sid Haig and Bill Moseley reprise their characters Captain Spaulding and Otis Driftwood.

The DVD's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image and Dolby 5.1 surround are very good. English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired are available. Extras consist of some deleted scenes and shots, plus about half an hour of alternate scenes in various stages of completion.

I didn't find THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO to be totally engaging, but I enjoyed it anyway thanks to its constant barrage of colorful eye candy, sex 'n' violence, and good-natured stupidity. The numerous film and pop-culture references are also fun. I never read Rob Zombie's comic book on which this is based, but the film reminds me of the kind of underground comics that I used to skip over to get to the R. Crumb and Gilbert Shelton ones, and then eventually come back and read later. They weren't as good but they had their own charms.

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John Shelton said...

It took me a while to watch " The Haunted World of El Superbeasto " but I enjoyed it for what it was... Great Review... Joined!!

porfle said...

Thanks, I really appreciate it! Glad you liked the review!