Rob Zombie: The Horror Artist Who Creates Songs Worthy Of A Slasher's Playlist
December 5, 2017|Sairy Romero
Rob Zombie's discography is the best way to accompany the images we see in Slasher films.
When we think about “ethical vegetarians” and people who work for charities that rescue puppies, we don’t necessarily picture a man like Rob Zombie, especially because the musician and filmmaker is a master of graphic ultra-violence. His filmography represents a long experiment in clever and controversial ways of showing a person’s violent murder. But the truly powerful side of his work, his discography, is the best way to accompany the images we see in Slasher films.
Robert Bartleh Cummings, better known as Rob Zombie, gained fame as the vocalist of heavy metal band White Zombie and started his career as a solo musician before its disbanding in 1998. The commercial success of his debut album, Hellbilly Deluxe: 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside the Spookshow International helped boost his future career as a director. However, music has a special place in his artistic career. For him, music is the most important element in horror, the genre he explores the most. Influenced by movies like Suspiria, The Exorcist, and Psycho, whose soundtrack is essential to create their eerie atmosphere, he uses songs to enhance the experience of horror films. Therefore, throughout his filmography, especially in movies such as The Lords of Salem, we can find examples of his use of music to create the appropriately spooky atmosphere, in this particular case, to tell the story of a Satan-worshipping cult that hypnotizes people through songs.
However, Rob Zombie doesn't use just any kind of music. For him, heavy metal is inseparable from horror movies. That's why he displays images of horror monsters from the thirties on his live performances such as Frankenstein's monster, King Kong, and Dr. Jekyll. But, how do these horror icons relate to heavy metal? For the artist, the extreme images and sounds that this genre provides are a means to address human violence and highlight it, instead of pretending it's not there.
Of course, there’s a lot of controversy in his use of violence as a theme for his movies and music. Nonetheless, by doing so, he makes us ask ourselves whether we watch horror movies just for the adrenaline or because they have a lot to say about our hidden urges and desires. Artists have the right to create fictions with elements of the real world. Rob Zombie pulls inspiration from the ugliness and brutality he has seen in society. The beneficial or harmful results raise debate. However, we can't deny they're an interesting discussion.
When asked about the glorification of murder and psychotic behavior in his pieces, he recommends to rather pay attention to the real killing of innocent people that happens every day, not by monsters nor stereotypical psychos with masks, but by respectable governments around the world. This is, perhaps, one of the most important statements in Rob Zombie's music. People tend to blame horror films and "aggressive" music as a source of violence. However, they don't analyze the not-so-flashy yet very real violence many people endure in their everyday lives.
In the end, Rob Zombie's self-aware use of violence in both his films and his music are just a means to have fun with the over-the-top displays of gore in fiction and to reflect on the actual examples of brutality we can find in everyday life. Then, dive into the macabre and spooky world he creates with his music, a soundtrack even Jason Voorhees or Leatherface would kill to have in their stories.
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