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Movie Review: The Haunted World of El Superbeasto

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The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is gory, vulgar, tactless, and absolutely insane, playing like an acid trip from a horror movie buff who watched a lot of Ren and Stimpy and Toxic Avenger growing up. These aren't words of negativity, however; this Rob Zombie-directed cartoon also happens to be one of the funniest cartoons I have seen in my life… but is not without its flaws.

The plot is a little wonky, but it goes like this: El Superbeasto (Tom Papa) is a retired wrestler who spends his time having sex with a large number of women and trying to make money on his image. In the few precious seconds he is not doing this, he also dabbles as a superhero alongside his sister Suzi X, an eyepatch-wearing, badass chick whom all the guys (and her robot sidekick) desire. When a stripper named Velma Von Black (Rosario Dawson) is kidnapped by the nefarious and nerdy Dr. Satan (Paul Giamatti… I know, right?) to be his unholy bride, Superbeasto embarks on a quest to save her — with the hopes that she will have sex with him in return. In between all of this, Suzi X battles a horde of undead Nazis led by the living head of Hitler in a pickle jar. Throw in some musical numbers, lots of horror movie icon cameos, nudity, loads of swearing, and stir.

I had an absolute blast watching this movie. In its short running time of 77 minutes, it is packed with non-stop violence, sex, and comedy. The voice actors are of a very high caliber for the most part (especially Papa and Giamatti, who apparently likes to supplement his Oscar nominations with crazy animated movies) and while the story doesn't make sense, it doesn't really have to; it's just a fun little ride.

The animation itself is of Ren and Stimpy/Ripping Friends quality, so if you like those animation styles, you'll like this. The studio who animated those two shows may have done this film, but I didn't look it up because I'm a slacker film critic.

The thing that holds this movie together for me are all the hilarious musical numbers and songs sprinkled through out. Superbeasto, Suzi, and Dr. Satan all get musical montages that explain their lives, and certain scenes, like a catfight later on, have theme songs. The songs themselves are clever, funny, and have a very Trey Parker vibe to them (the creator of South Park who likes to write awesome songs to put in his show).

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto does have some flaws. First off, while the movie is funny as a whole, when the jokes miss, they miss very noticeably. Some of the jokes in the movie pertain to the fact that it's a stupid movie, and it goes out of its way to be self-referential. While this can occasionally work in film (Top Secret!'s one joke, for example), in this it just feels like they're trying too hard to be clever and it just fails.

Rosario Dawson and Sheri Moon Zombie also stick out from the cast as the weak links. Dawson's character, Velma Von Black, is pretty much Rosario Dawson talking all sassy Bronx chick, and it gets really annoying, especially since the character is white. Sheri Moon Zombie continues to be the weak link in Rob Zombie films, as her lack of talent compared to the rest of the cast is very noticeable and distracting. To be fair though, if I had a hot wife and wanted to keep her happy, I would probably cast her in a bunch of my movies, too.

The Haunted World of El Superbeasto overall is an enjoyable little animated film. If you are a Troma fan or like gross-out dirty humor, you'll be right at home while watching this. After Rob Zombie's systematic butchering of the Halloween franchise, he has won back some of his cred, at least in my mind, which is obviously more important than everyone else's.

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