Rob Zombie: “Corpses, Rejects, Afterlives: Welcome to Zombieland” by Jason V Brock

In The Many Lives of Scary Clowns: Essays on Pennywise, Twisty, the Joker, Krusty and More, the follow up volume to The Many Lives of It (available now from McFarland), Jason V Brock analyzes Rob Zombie and his character Captain Spaulding.

“…If House of 1000 Corpses was a kind of twisted, adult version of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), then its follow-up—2005’s The Devil’s Rejectsis more of an opera in scale than a novel. We return to the situational aftermath of Corpses and come to appreciate the enormity of the horrific enterprise. The four main characters are back, this time on the run from the law rather than lying-in-wait to ambush victims. Once again, [Rob] Zombie’s oddball fascination with the outsider “hillbilly cracker” elements of his aesthetic are fully displayed, calling to mind many Joe R. Lansdale characters, as though he is attempting to enhance the shock of Deliverance (1972) for modern sensibilities jaundiced by the horrors of 9/11 and the depravity of Daesh (aka ISIS), while infusing some indie-spirited Russ Meyer porno vibes. The lasting impression is one of a real story playing out in the dialogue and interactions, even as the characters themselves approach parody status with their melodramatic violence and decadence. Adding to this at-times disorienting imbalance between onscreen action and audience reality is Zombie’s penchant (also shared by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino) for using actors he admired from his childhood reminiscences, tapping into a subtextual (almost subliminal) collective remembrance for filmgoers.


At any rate, Captain Spaulding and his deranged progeny ([Sid]Haig’s character is revealed to be the patriarch of the Fireflys) manage to find plenty of victims to exploit, and what ensues is often grueling and hard to watch, though the direction is superior this outing, the writing is sharp, and the acting generally exceptional….”

Read the rest of essay …

The Many Lives of Scary Clowns: Essays on Pennywise, Twisty, the Joker, Krusty and More
Edited by Ron Riekki
McFarland & Company, Inc.
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8091-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4452-3

The frightening yet comic clown is one of the best and most enduring characters in literature, theater, television, and film. Across the centuries, from Shakespeare’s Porter in Macbeth to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Hop-Frog,” or Stephen King’s Pennywise, horror and comedy have blended to create the perfect recipe for entertainment.
This volume gives an in-depth analysis of the clown horror genre, including essays by revered horror scholars whose essays cover topics such as nostalgia, race, class, and new portrayals of the scary clown as zombies or phantoms. It also offers interviews with actors and directors working in the clown horror genre: Eoghan McQuinn (Stitches), Kevin Kangas (Fear of Clowns), and Jaysen Buterin (Kill Giggles). Some of fiction’s most terrifying creations–like the Killer Klowns, Captain Spaulding, Art the Clown, Krusty, Frowny, the Joker, and Twisty–jig through these pages of analysis and deconstruction, asking what these many iterations of scary clowns have to say about our society and its fears.

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