Something I thought not possible: Rob Zombie’s “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto” is even raunchier than the short-lived comic book from which it spawned, “Spookshow International.” It’s also long-delayed, which suggests a problematic production, but the end result is an absolute riot. If it weren’t animated, I’m convinced it’d be rated NC-17.
El Superbeasto (voiced by comedian Tom Papa) is a masked wrestler and part-time porn star who’s called into action when Dr. Satan’s (Paul Giamatti, relishing the playtime) proposed marriage to foul-mouthed stripper Velvet Von Black (Rosario Dawson) threatens to bring the end of the world. Why? It has something to do with Velvet having a 666 mark on her butt.
El Sup gets as assist from gun-toting, one-eyed mercenary Suzi-X (bubble-voiced Sheri Moon Zombie), and their adventures involve everything from a talking gorilla and a horny robot to an army of Nazi zombies with Hitler’s head in a jar. A litany of monsters, including those from Zombie’s other films (“Halloween” included), and likenesses of iconic cinematic creatures and actors, put in cameos.
The proceedings channel the anarchic spirit of animation outlaws Ralph Bakshi and John Kricfalusi, and occasionally go much further, with unending scenes of sex and violence, all played for laughs. And it actually earns them, too, with a script that is witty, even when it’s utterly, completely juvenile. The movie parodies everything from “Schoolhouse Rock” to Shogun Warriors, with nods to “Carrie,” “Planet of the Apes,” “They Saved Hitler’s Brain” and “The Benny Hill Show.”
Zombie knows exactly what he’s doing here, and if you allow yourself to get on board with it, you’re going to have one of the most pleasurable DVD experiences of the year. You don’t have to “approve” of all the gags to see it for the coked-up carnival ride that it is. The actors are totally into their voices, and the animation is no corner-cutting hack job; it’s fluid, vibrant and totally professional.
Pretty streamlined at 77 minutes, I’d recommend a blind buy to anyone who enjoys Zombie’s films; all others should stick to whatever Sandra Bullock has out. Good examples of adult animation don’t come around that often, whether “Heavy Metal” or “The Animatrix,” making the rare occasion such as this all the more special. —Rod Lott