Friday 4 July 2014

Rob Zombie - The Zombie Horror Picture Show (DVD/BluRay Review)

Rob Zombie ‘The Zombie Picture Show’ Blu Ray track listing:

1. Teenage Nosferatu Pussy
2. Superbeast
3. Super Charger Heaven
4. Living Dead Girl
5. We're an American Band
6. More Human Than Human
7. Sick Bubblegum
8. Never Gonna Stop
9. Ging Gang Gong de Do Gong de Laga Raga
10. Meet the Creeper
11. Angry Red Planet
12. Mars Needs Women
13. House of 1000 Corpses
14. Lords of Salem
15. Dead City Radio
16. Thunder Kiss '65
17. Dragula

The Band:

Rob Zombie | Vocals
John 5 | Guitars
Piggy D | Bass
Ginger Fish | Drums


Born one, Robert Bartleh Cummings January 12, 1965, the man better known as ‘Zombie’ to his legion of fans, has accomplished much.  Transforming White Zombie from an underground noise rock band, to a multimillion seller, it was perhaps all the more shocking when at the peak of their power, Zombie dissolved the band.  Not many artists experience success the second time around, and yet Rob Zombie has gone onto enjoy a rich and successful solo music career, as well directing videos for bands such as Prong and Zakk Wylde, not to mention his recent success as a screen writer and movie director. 

Coming full circle then, it is worth saying in reference to his music that Zombie is perhaps at the zenith of his career. Having released perhaps his strongest album since his debut, in Hellbilly Deluxe 2 and 2013’s top 10 album ‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor’, Zombie seems excited by music again and whilst I wasn’t particularly enamored by his latest record, what is irrefutable is John 5’s influence, having been the catalyst and motivation to reignite Zombie’s passion for being in a band and releasing music again in the form of ‘Educated Horses’ in 2006. 

Despite experiencing success, Zombie’s solo band has transitioned somewhat since it’s inception, original drummer John Tempesta, also of White Zombie and guitarist Riggs, now of ‘Scum of the Earth’ are gone, indeed their replacement members jumped ship some time later, most notably drummer Clufetos* and Blasko, who moved on to be part of the Ozzy Osborne band and one ‘Black Sabbath*’.  Despite these setbacks and with Zombie seemingly on indefinite hiatus, to concentrate on movies following ‘The Sinister Urge’ album, Zombie regrouped in 2006 and his band is perhaps the strongest it has been in years.  Joey Jordison (Ex- Slipknot) originally replaced Clufetos in 2010, who would in turn be replaced by Ginger Fish of Marilyn Manson fame, Piggy D replacing Blasko and in John 5; he has arguably the best stringer around as his right hand man. 

Rewinding a little to 2011 and following years of hardship, UK fans were finally treated to the Zombie live spectacular and my memories of his show at The Apollo in Manchester, UK are feelings of bewilderment and astonishment, given the overwhelmingly brilliant show I witnessed.  Despite the massive success in the States, it took around 16 years for Rob Zombie to play these shows in Europe and the UK, having originally played here with White Zombie in 1995 as support to Metallica.  Indeed a small UK tour that same year in support of Astrocreep 2000:, is all we had to show for years of dedication from his UK fans (I saw them twice that year, Donington and Leeds). 

The reason I mention this, is that having absorbed his show in the first person back in 2011 and having watched this Live DVD/Blu Ray, you can’t help feel that we have been missing out on so much.  Whatever the issue, if you have yet to experience Rob Zombie Live, this is DVD/BluRay is perhaps the closest representation of his live show without actually being there.  

Despite releasing the ‘Zombie Live’ album back in 2007, ‘The Zombie Horror Picture Show,’ is his first concert film and was filmed during the summer of 2013, featuring shows from the Houston and Dallas, Texas leg of the Mayhem Festival tour, deftly cut and edited together to be presented as this film.  In terms of the set list, there are few surprises, as much of the set is derived from the set I saw back in 2011, with at least 8 tracks being presented here too. 

Filmed in what seems like 9mm tape, the introduction leading up to the band hitting the stage, we are treated to snippets of backstage action of Zombie and his band mates, until the show kicks off with ‘Teenage Nosferatu Pussy’.  The band adorning face masks like some arcane band of outlaws, the film immediately resonated with me as a viewer.  What is striking about the film is that songs are intertwined with an arsenal of elaborate, special effects.  During the course of the next 80 mins, you get animatronic robots, pyrotechnics, LED screens, split screen visuals, a magnificent light show, but more importantly outstanding music and performances courtesy of John 5, Piggy D and Ginger Fish, with Rob Zombie the architect of this weird and wonderful spectacle.

Zombie and his fans are at one with each other, with the audience expressing their enthusiasm and adulation by means of singing, dancing, fighting and barely flesh.  With at least half of the songs taken from ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ and its 2010 sequel ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2.’ there are also nods to ‘The Sinister Urge’ with ‘Never Gonna Stop’ and also 2006‘s ‘Educated Horses’.  Often overlooked as the shabby horse in terms of his back catalogue, there are some superior songs on there.  ‘Lords of Salem’ is a fine example of that and is one of the highlights of the show.  As remarked upon earlier, the opener ‘Teenage Nosferatu Pussy’ from  ‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor’, is my least favourite record and yet it sounds massive and every bit a classic.  For me there is an absence of many of my favourite tracks, ‘Demonoid Phenomenon’, ‘Iron Head’, ‘Feel So Numb’, ‘Scum of the Earth’, ‘Jesus Frankenstein’, but a Zombie show wouldn’t be the same without a nod to his White Zombie days and ‘Super Charger Heaven,’ ‘More Human Than Human’ and ‘Thunder Kiss ‘65’, are all brilliant.

Visually the film is excellent, with numerous screens broadcasting horror clips, words from the songs for the crowd to sign a long too, indeed as a viewer you are just overwhelmed by this ocular smorgasbord. Try singing ‘Ging Gang Gong de Do Gong de Laga Raga’ three times really fast.  Not easy, huh!! 

The only gig I could compare Zombie too, is Metallica in 1996, which including the stage collapsing and stuntmen being set on fire, however on the whole Zombie trumps everyone, perhaps taking influence from Alice Cooper and making the gig an event, with giant devil man props during ‘Super Charger Heaven’ and Zombie dancing around on a power ranger esque mechanised dinosaur on ‘Meet the Creeper’.  It is safe to say there is never a dull moment

For me John 5 shines throughout, his technical ability on guitar is jaw dropping, ‘Star Spangled Banner’ played with his teeth, his trademark telecaster guitars with flashing LEDs and for me a real highlight is his blistering guitar solos during ‘Thunderkiss ‘65’. Finishing off the show as he did 3 years ago with, ‘Dragula,’ this song is a fitting conclusion to a remarkable show.   If you want to be entertained, you like Rob Zombie  and you’re yet to see him live, 'The Zombie Horror Picture Show' is effectively a must have purchase.  “They Live for Kicks, Love for Kicks, Kill for Kicks’.

Words by: Aaron Pickford

You can buy it everywhere now