Anchor Bay // 2009 // 77 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // September 11th, 2009
"Left upon a darkened stair / a baby thick with body hair / a wrestling
family heard the cries / and learn him how to murderize / He soon grew up and up
and up / and now this not-so-little pup / had found a knack for pounding guts /
while pounding booze and pounding sluts."
-- "El Superbeasto" by Hard 'N Phirm
Rob Zombie fans have been waiting a long time for the release of The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. Based on his comic book creation, Zombie has been working on this animated movie on and off for the past three years. Now that it's finally coming out on DVD, pay-per-view, and in theaters, what is El Superbeasto? A stylish, R-rated, blood-spattered, monster-filled animated raunchfest. It's for adults, but it's definitely not for everyone.
Once, El Superbeasto was a famous luchador/superhero who protected the denizens of Monsterland. Now, he's a washed up celebrity looking to get laid. His half-sister, Suzi X, carries the family ass-kicking torch as a sexy crimefighter. With her horny robot sidekick, Murray, Suzi spends her days blowing Nazi zombies to kingdom come, while "Beasto" spends his nights shooting homemade pornos and frequenting the Haunted Palace strip club. When headline stripper Velvet Von Black is kidnapped by nerd-turned-supervillain Dr. Satan as part of a fiendish plot to gain ultimate power, Superbeasto comes out of retirement to save (and hopefully bed) her.
I'll say one thing for El Superbeasto: you know what it is right out of the gate. The movie starts Beasto casting a porno shoot that ends with him having to kill his female co-stars after they turn into monsters. Naked cartoon characters, simulated cartoon sex, and buckets of cartoon blood. That's El Superbeasto.
Like all Rob Zombie projects, this movie isn't for the easily offended. If your taste in comedy doesn't include bodily fluids, decapitations, boobs used as weapons, slang for female genitalia, and a redneck pooping out rats, steer clear of El Superbeasto. It makes your average Adult Swim cartoon look like Davey and Goliath. Its characters are foul-mouthed, sex-crazed, and not terribly sympathetic. Especially its hero. Voiced by Zombie's co-writer Tom Papa, the masked Beasto is a self-obsessed sleazeball who'd rather chase tail than bad guys. If Freakazoid had a scuzzy uncle, he'd probably look like this.
Papa is backed by an impressive supporting voice cast. Zombie's wife Sheri Moon plays Suzi X, the coolest character in the movie. As aware of her seductive powers as she is blind to how much she turns on her robotic sidekick (voiced by Brian Posehn), her scenes are always action-packed. Whether fending off an army of Nazi zombies on motorcycles or casually killing a roomful of club patrons, she's the consummate action heroine. Frankly, I wish the movie was about her instead of her brother. If it was, we probably wouldn't be subjected to the insufferable Velvet Von Black (played with obscene relish by Rosario Dawson). The bitchy Von Black is the worst kind of damsel in distress. Just ask Dr. Satan's ape henchman Otto (voiced by SpongeBob SquarePants' own Tom Kenny), who is tasked with kidnapping her. Dr. Satan, played by Paul Giamatti, is what Bill Gates might have become if he'd gone to the dark side. Once a bookish schlub terrorized by jock bullies like Beasto, Dr. Satan has found his own way to power -- through a satanic bylaw that promises him "all the sudsy powers of Hell" if he can find and marry a woman with the mark of the beast. That woman, it turns out, is Velvet.
Enjoyment of El Superbeasto depends entirely on how much you like raunchy humor. I don't find gross-out sex jokes all that funny. The closest I came to laughing were the original songs written and performed by comedy duo Hard 'N Phirm (Chris Hardwick and Mike Phirman). Songs like "Zombie Nazis" and "Otto Explains It All" are no less filthy than the rest of the movie, but somehow the filth is more fun in song form. Whether it's providing too-specific commentary for an action scene ("She throws a thing / It blows up but a bunch get through / Why does a zombie need a scarf?") or turning the sex-to-power scheme of a madman into a Schoolhouse Rock! pastiche, Hard 'N Phirm are easily the best thing about the movie.
Whether or not I liked the content of El Superbeasto, it's hard to argue the production values. This is one slick movie. The animation is top-notch, the voice talent is superb, the picture is crisp and colorful, and the 5.1 surround mix kicks ass. For whatever it's worth, this is the best-looking adult animated film that I've ever seen.
The disc extras are all alternate or deleted scenes, running about forty minutes in total. Most of the sequences are extremely short. Like, thirty seconds short. Many are hardly changed from what appears in the movie. Superfans might like the subtle tweaks in the animated storyboards, but the overall effect is that a lot of people worked a long time to get this movie made -- and they want you to know it.
I wasn't crazy about El Superbeasto, but I'm sure a lot of people will dig it. You don't have to be a Rob Zombie fan to watch, but you do have to leave your sense of propriety (and a smidge of maturity) at the door.
Cartoon boobs, guns, swearing, cartoon boobs, crimefighters, cartoon boobs, explosions, dirty jokes, simulated sex, action, and cartoon boobs. If that sounds like a good time, hop on board The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.
Filthy, but not necessarily guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 Erich Asperschlager; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 77 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted/Alternate Scenes
* Official Site