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Every Rob Zombie Horror Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best

What's in your head? Zombie

laurie in anguish in Halloween II

Let’s cut to the chase, Rob Zombie is well known for his incredibly hit-or-miss horror movies. He’s certainly got a style—one that can be considered hillbilly or grunge-type horror. And he’s able to capture grotesque and disturbing situations—which usually involve his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, who he always casts in his horror movies. Something he’s been criticized for time and time again (for good reason too). But maybe you’re crossing your fingers for his upcoming origin movie, The Munsters (2022).

Even though Zombie is problematic in a number of ways, he does have his strengths as a horror director and writer. So, let’s discuss his filmography to see which of his horror films are the worst and which are, without a doubt, the best of his horror releases. Here’s every Rob Zombie horror movie ranked worst to best.

7. 31 (2016)

roscoe, venus & charly in dire straits in 31
(Saban Films)

Where do I begin with this one? It’s borderline offensive and poorly written. There I said it! 31 (2019) wishes it were more ambitious than it is, but unfortunately, it’s weighed down by the offensive bullshit that’s simply there for shock value.

Let’s start with the few positives. The concept is that a group of outcasts, carnival workers in the ’70s, are forced to play a death game for entertainment. And look, that’s cool enough. Who doesn’t love a good death game? And the warehouse the film takes place in is atmospherically creepy, in that it’s truly disgusting. Additionally, if you like over-the-top gore, it’s got you covered. However, the sloppy writing is hard to ignore. For example, the Black characters are driving in a van with a confederate flag inside, which feels…careless. There are some okay performances, Richard Brake’s Doom-Head stands out. But all in all, this one is the bottom of the barrel.

6. 3 from Hell (2019)

otis, baby, & winslow in 3 from Hell

There’s such a thing as unnecessary sequels, even if they can be somewhat enjoyable (or at least watchable). At the end of the day, 3 from Hell (2019) was an unnecessary film in the Firefly saga. The movie is set a decade after the events of The Devil’s Rejects (2005) and everything is haywire from there. Essentially, Zombie wrote a film that doesn’t offer anything surprising. It’s not particularly fun or inventive, it’s just…there. Honestly, it’s only not the last on the list because of its cool soundtrack. Otherwise, it gets a thumbs down for its plot, the pacing, the use of a Native American headdress, and the ending—which is just so typical.

5. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

denise tied up and terrified in House of 1000 Corpses
(Lionsgate Films)

Some think this film is a masterpiece, I believe that’s an overstatement. While it indeed has a cult following and is still ambitious when you really think about it, it’s really obvious that it’s a debut film for Zombie. Horror films that reside in the black comedy subgenre must be handled with care. House of 1000 Corpses (2003) was handled with fumbling hands. The cartoony nature of some of the characters and the events can take you out of it. There are some good performances—with memorable moments and wicked horror set designs. But I don’t think it’s even in the top half of Zombie’s best horror films. Though, at least it’s not the worst. That’s got to count for something, right?

4. Halloween II (2009)

laurie looking at herself in the mirror in Halloween II
(Dimension Films and The Weinstein Company)

This isn’t the best addition to the Halloween franchise. But the film is still pretty intriguing when you consider its depiction of trauma. Halloween II (1981) merely put Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) through another murder spree. Meanwhile, this version of Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) is grappling with the trauma of the previous movie a year later (or 2 years later in the director’s cut). Even though plenty of folks disliked this entry (take a look at the ratings), it does manage to be unique. Zombie incorporates his own style and his Michael Myers is so fucking scary and brutal. Try to set aside that he speaks in the director’s cut and that his ghost mom is hanging around. This movie is plenty scary, has memorable kills, and the dream hospital sequence is so frightening (an effective nod to the original Halloween II). And for those reasons, I’m not putting it any lower.

3. The Lords of Salem (2012)

heidi in The Lords of Salem
(Anchor Bay Films)

The sheer originality of this film must be recognized. And Sheri Moon Zombie’s performance is actually pretty good in it! Rather than it be a slasher remake or hillbilly horror insanity, this one is supernatural horror. Though it’s not just your average ghosts kicking it like this there’s a nonstop house party. Protagonist Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is being tormented by graphic visions. Not to mention there’s a lot of twisted shit that happens throughout. It’s genuinely best to watch and see for yourself. There’s an established atmosphere, genuine frights, an interesting take on supernatural horror, and Sheri Moon Zombie plays her role properly. Thus, landing it in this spot on the list.

2. Halloween (2007)

michael in Halloween 2007
(The Weinstein Company, Dimension Films, & Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

The virtual tomatoes may be thrown at me for having this so high on the list. Without a doubt, it’s rough in the first half of the movie (mainly due to the redneck nonsense). But once it gets into its own groove, it manages to be a decent Halloween entry. It’s not supposed to be the exact same as the original because it’s a remake. If you’re into gore, a terrifying Michael Myers, bizarre characters, and a bonkers final act, then this is a treat. Rob Zombie may have been a bit limited in terms of the direction of the film. To me, it achieves what it’s supposed to, and isn’t that the point?

1. The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

the fireflys bloodied up in The Devil's Rejcts
(Lionsgate and Lionsgate Films)

Trigger warning: Minor mention of sexual violence

Super cliché of me to hail this as the best thing Zombie has put out. But here I am doing what everyone likely expected. Even with all the unnecessary shit this film has in it, the atmosphere is absolutely perfect. Everything is grimy and hot and ultraviolent. If you thought the Firefly family was nuts in the first film, they go the extra mile in The Devil’s Rejects (2005). Setting aside Zombie’s weird fixation on trying to make us like them (if you idolize them, then…yeah), it does what it sets out to do. Which is make us disgusted and scared of these very human killers—who also happen to participate in or remain just fine with sexual violence. They are horrible people that are unapologetic about it and mimic a certain side of society. Only proving the effectiveness of them as characters. That’s why it earns the spot at the top of his nutty hill.

(featured image: Dimension Films and The Weinstein Company)

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Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.