El Superbeasto, No Me Gusta

el-superbeasto-trailer-icecream

I recently reviewed Rob Zombie’s new sorta-straight-to-DVD animated feature (it was screened in a few theaters on Saturday night here in WNY). Just imagine me sitting in the McKinley Mall multiplex on a Tuesday morning, ingesting this steaming pile of shock-jock-worthy humor and wondering when Mr. Zombie will get back to singing about Astro Creeps and such.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto: Rob Zombie at his lowest
September 11, 2009, edition of The Buffalo News

Rob Zombie opens his new animated feature with a Vincent Price-ish emcee, who warns the audience that the story to come “may horrify you.” He’s not joking.

“The Haunted World of El Superbeasto” is as lazy as lowbrow comedy gets. There’s an art to a perfectly timed gaseous emission or domino-effect vomit sequence — the hilarity comes as much from the context as the inherent disgustingness. This is a lesson that Zombie, a campy-in-a-good-way metal singer turned campy-in-a-bad-way director, hasn’t learned. “Superbeasto” is chock full of in-your-face gore, nudity and scatology, which is supposed to be funny just because it’s there.

Zombie, who co-wrote and directed, drapes a merciless barrage of mind-numbing sex jokes and other “shocking” content over a paper-thin plot. El Superbeasto is a past-his-prime professional wrestler and apparent sex addict who becomes smitten by a stripper named Velvet Von Black. Von Black is kidnapped by the supervillain Dr. Satan (voiced with frazzled vibrancy by Paul Giamatti), and Superbeasto sets out to save her, accompanied by his sister Suzi-X.

But none of that really matters. Raunchy one-liners and sight gags are the name of the game here, not character development — which would be OK if everything wasn’t so tedious and telegraphed. Here’s a sample:

El Superbeasto enters a strip club. A waitress greets him.

Waitress: “Glad to see you back!”

Waitress turns around and El Superbeasto ogles her rear end.

El Superbeasto: “Glad to see your back!”

Zombie’s attempts to be provocative are just as embarrassing as his jokes. He weaves in an army of zombie Nazis, the murder of Santa Claus, the demise of a box of kittens and endless displays of chauvinism, including a sequence where Superbeasto can’t decide whether he wants to save Von Black or give up and eat a plate of hot wings. The script isn’t interested in anything but making you say things like “aw, no he didn’t!” and “he so went there!” And in our post-“South Park” culture, animated characters have been there and done that, in far smarter and funnier ways.

Unlike this movie’s obvious inspirations, the 1972 cult classic “Fritz the Cat” and the Tom and Jerry-on-acid TV show “Ren & Stimpy,” “Superbeasto” doesn’t try to make any meaningful connections with its audience. “Fritz” was a failed attempt at hippie satire, but at least it tried, and “Ren & Stimpy” had indelible characters, brilliantly twisted writers and unforgettable animation. Speaking of which, the animation style Zombie opts for here is on the level of popular Nickelodeon shows like “The Fairly OddParents,” so the movie looks as uninspired as it sounds.

The movie will be screened one night only in Western New York — at 10 p. m. Saturday in the Dipson McKinley Mall Cinema and at 9 p. m. and midnight in the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda. It will be released on DVD (Anchor Bay Entertainment) on Sept. 22. Any number of people could be offended by it, including every woman on the planet, but “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto” is more offensive to fans of animated comedy than anything else.

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