Rob Zombie (born Robert Bartleh Cummings; January 12, 1965) is an American musician, film director, screenwriter and film producer. He rose to prominence as a founding member of the band White Zombie which formed in the mid-1980s and rose to fame in the early 1990s. As a solo artist, he has released five studio albums, five compilation albums, and a live album. He expanded his career and became a director, and has directed a total of six films, the majority of which he also wrote or co-wrote. He has also released numerous brands of comic books, and appeared as an actor on numerous occasions.
White Zombie's debut album, Soul-Crusher, was released in 1987 and was followed by their second album Make Them Die Slowly in 1989. They rose to prominence after the success of their third album, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1, and its lead single "Thunder Kiss '65" in 1993. The album went on to be certified multi-platinum by the RIAA, for sales exceeding two million copies in the US. Their fourth and final studio album, Astro-Creep: 2000, became their first top-10 entry on the Billboard 200, and their second album to reach multi-platinum status. Zombie began his solo career with the release of his 1998 debut album Hellbilly Deluxe. The album was both a critical and commercial success, spawning three hit singles, reaching the Top 5 of the Billboard 200, and selling over three million copies worldwide. Hellbilly is Zombie's highest selling album to date. He followed the success of the album with The Sinister Urge in 2001, which had similar success to that of its predecessor. Zombie's first greatest hits album, Past, Present & Future, was released in 2003, and reached Platinum status by the RIAA. His third studio album, Educated Horses, was released in 2006, and was his third Top 10 entry on the Billboard 200. In 2010, he released Hellbilly Deluxe 2, calling it a companion to his debut album. His fifth album, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, was released on April 23, 2013.
Following his success as a musician, Zombie began directing, writing and producing films. His first film, House of 1000 Corpses, was completed in 2000, but numerous struggles with the distributor over the film's violence and gore ultimately led to the film not being released until 2003. Its sequel, The Devil's Rejects, was released in 2005. In 2007, he released his third film, a remake of the 1978 classic film Halloween. The film went on to gross over $80 million, the highest-grossing film in the Halloween franchise. In 2009, Zombie released a sequel for the film, titled Halloween II. In 2009, Zombie released his first animated film, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, based on his comic book series of the same name. His film The Lords of Salem was released in 2013. Zombie bought the rights to a film about the Philadelphia Flyers, titled The Broad Street Bullies, though no release date for the film has been announced yet.
Zombie directed the majority of his band White Zombie's music videos, as well as numerous videos of his own. Zombie's lyrics are noted for their horror and sci-fi themes, and his live shows for their elaborate shock rock theatricality. He has sold over 15 million albums worldwide, and had six Top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the United States.
Robert Bartleh Cummings was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on January 12, 1965. He is the oldest son of Robert and Louise Cummings. Rob's younger brother, Michael David Cummings, was born in 1968 and is better known by his stage name Spider One. His brother is the lead singer of the band Powerman 5000.
Growing up, Rob had a fascination with horror films, and has stated that he always "wanted to be Alice Cooper, Steven Spielberg, Bela Lugosi, and Stan Lee. While raising their sons, Rob's parents worked in a carnival, but they chose to leave after a riot broke out and tents were set on fire. Zombie recalled the experience in an interview, stating, "Everybody's pulling out guns, and you could hear guns going off. I remember this one guy we knew, he was telling us where to go, and some guy just ran up to him and hit him in the face with a hammer – just busted his face wide open. My parents packed up real quick, and we took off."
Cummings graduated from Haverhill High School in 1983. He moved to New York City, and he began attending Parsons School of Design where he met eventual girlfriend Sean Yseult. Zombie later moved in with Yseult in her apartment. Presently, Rob Zombie lives in Woodbury, Connecticut.
1980s and 1990s: White Zombie
Rob and Sean served as co-founders for a band that would become known as White Zombie. Yseult and Zombie would break up after seven years of dating, though they continued to work in the band together. Between the years of 1985 to 1987, the band released three extended plays, none of which had commercial success. Their debut studio album Soul-Crusher was released in November 1987 through the band's own record label, Silent Explosion. A second studio album, Make Them Die Slowly, was released in 1989 and failed to have commercial success.
The group released their fourth extended play, God of Thunder, later that year. Michael Alago, a representative for Geffen Records, heard the EP and showed interest in the band. The band produced a demo with the help of J. G. Thirlwell and were signed to Geffen. In 1993, the group released their first single, "Thunder Kiss '65". The song gained attention after it was featured on popular MTV series Beavis and Butt-head. This helped the song to have commercial success, leading to its peak at number 26 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. Cummings had used the stage name Rob Straker during early years of White Zombie. However he was much more prominent with the Rob Zombie moniker. (Accordingly, by 1996, Cummings "legally changed his name to Rob Zombie".)
Their third studio album, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1, went on to peak at number 26 on the Billboard 200 and sell over two million copies in the United States alone, earning it multi-platinum status from the RIAA. The album was also successful in Canada, where it earned a Gold certification. Rob later began dating Sheri Moon after he and Sean ended their romantic relationship. Moon subsequently appeared in the video for "Feed the Gods", released in 1994.
The band's fourth, and ultimately final, studio album Astro-Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head was released in 1995, and reached number 6 on the Billboard 200. The album went on to receive a multi-platinum certification from the RIAA, much like their previous album. It spawned the successful single "More Human Than Human", which peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in the United States. Rob directed the video for "Human" and would go on to direct all of the band's subsequent videos.
In 1996, the band released their first remix album Supersexy Swingin' Sounds, featuring remixes of their previous releases. The compilation album would ultimately be their last to enter the Billboard 200, and the last album formed during their formation. The band eventually broke up in 1998. On the breakup, Rob stated "Sometimes a band just breaks up because the band has run its course and the best days are behind them. White Zombie went through a lot together and did tons of great stuff, but it was time to stop. The good times were over and we were all moving in different directions."
1998–2001: Solo career, Hellbilly Deluxe, and The Sinister Urge
Work on Zombie's debut solo album first began in 1997, before the band had officially broken up. For the album, Rob worked with numerous artists, including Charlie Clouser of Nine Inch Nails fame and former White Zombie bandmate John Tempesta. Zombie's solo debut album, Hellbilly Deluxe: 13 Tales Of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside The Spookshow International, was released on August 25, 1998. The album was a commercial success, debuting at number 5 on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 121,000. The first week sales of the album were higher than any previous White Zombie record. Hellbilly would go on to become Zombie's highest selling album to date, selling more than three million copies worldwide. It received triple-platinum status from the RIAA, for sales exceeding three million copies in the United States. Hellbilly Deluxe was heavily influenced by classic horror films, with numerous songs on the album containing samples and quotes from some of Zombie's favorite horror films. Three singles were released in total from the album: "Dragula", "Living Dead Girl", and "Superbeast". All three songs had critical and commercial success, with all three peaking inside the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the US. "Dragula" also had success in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number 44. Following the success of the album, Zombie released a remix album, American Made Music to Strip By, in 1999.
Zombie was set to make his directorial debut with the film "The Crow: 2037", and even wrote the film's script. The film was set to take place in the future, though it was never released. Following the failure of his first film attempt, Zombie began working on a new film, tentatively titled House of 1000 Corpses. Universal Pictures was set to distribute the film, which began filming in May 2000. While filming the movie, however, Zombie encountered numerous problems with Universal, who feared the film would receive an NC-17 rating. As a result, Zombie had to re-shoot numerous scenes to appease the company. Ultimately, Universal Pictures chose to shelve the film in late 2000, and the intended 2001 release was cancelled. The film would later serve as inspiration for the song of the same title on Zombie's The Sinister Urge album, with audio clips from the film being featured in the song.
Despite the failure of his directing career at that point, Zombie was still at work on his music career. His second studio album, The Sinister Urge, was released on November 13, 2001. The album saw Zombie working with music legends such as Ozzy Osbourne and Kerry King. Despite debuting three spots lower than Hellbilly Deluxe on the Billboard 200, it sold nearly 30,000 more copies in its first week, with first week sales of almost 150,000 copies. The Sinister Urge went on to receive a Platinum certification from the RIAA, his second solo album to do so. Three singles were released from the album, "Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)", "Dead Girl Superstar", and "Demon Speeding". Lead single "Never Gonna Stop" became Zombie's third song to chart on the Alternative Songs chart in the US, as well as his Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. "Demon Speeding" also had success on the latter chart, peaking only two positions lower than the aforementioned single. The album and subsequent singles received positive critical reviews, with Allmusic writing "It is the slow burn of [the album's] last track that shows the most promise; after years of making good heavy metal, he finally expands the boundaries of his own sound. Few metal musicians kept their sound fresh for as long as Zombie, and this album is no exception.
2002–05: Marriage, directorial debut, and soundtracks
Following the success of his second studio album, Zombie announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Sheri Moon, who had appeared in numerous music videos for both Rob and White Zombie. Ten days before the couple's set wedding date, however, they decided to elope on Halloween of 2002. On the decision, Sheri stated "We were actually taking a walk in our neighborhood the day before. The wedding date was to be November 9th. We're like, "Oh god, we've been together for nine years. We should just say our vows privately." It was just like a spur-of-the-moment decision. It just happens that the next day was Halloween. We didn't do it for any spooky reasons or anything. Zombie's first greatest hits album, titled Past, Present & Future, was released on September 23, 2003. It reached number 11 on the Billboard 200, and became Zombie's last album to receive a Platinum certification.
Following his marriage, Zombie announced he had bought the rights to the previously shelved film House of 1000 Corpses. Scenes for the movie were re-shot, and Zombie even filmed some scenes in the basement of his home. Zombie later managed a deal with Lions Gate Entertainment to release the film, which was released theatrically on April 11, 2003. Though negatively received by critics, the film was somewhat financially successful, grossing a total of $16,829,545 and earning back its $7,000,000 budget. The film was criticized for being too "grotesque" and "violent", but has since garnered a cult following. Despite numerous negative reviews, the film is frequently listed as one of the "best horror films ever made". Zombie created the majority of the film's soundtrack, which features music from artists such as The Ramones, Helen Kane, and Zombie himself. The film's eponymous song, which was first featured on Zombie's The Sinister Urge album, is featured on the soundtrack. Original songs from Zombie such as "Pussy Liquor" and "Little Piggy" are also featured, as is Zombie's cover version of the 1977 hit "Brick House", re-titled to "Brick House 2003". Zombie's version of the song was used in a portion of the film. The soundtrack peaked at number 53 on the Billboard 200, and number 4 on the Top Soundtracks chart.
Following the success of House of 1000 Corpses, it was announced work on a sequel for the film had begun. In an interview, Zombie stated that he already had an idea for a sequel while working on the first film, in which the brother of a cop murdered in the first film would return for revenge. He later stated he wanted to make the characters less cartoonish than in the previous film, and would feature more of a "violent Western film" theme. The film featured all of the Firefly family returning to the film, and are forced to take refuge after their house is raided by the police and numerous family members are murdered. The film, titled The Devil's Rejects, was a commercial success, and received a more positive reception when compared to House of 1000 Corpses. The Devil's Rejects was released on July 22, 2005 in 1,757 theaters and grossed $7.1 million on its opening weekend, recouping its roughly $7 million budget. It grossed $17 million in North America and $2.3 million internationally, bringing the film's total gross to over $19.4 million. Much like its predecessor, The Devil's Rejects garnered a cult following. The film had mixed critical reviews, earning a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus "Zombie has improved as a filmmaker since 'House of 1000 Corpses' and will please fans of the genre, but beware – the horror is nasty, relentless, and sadistic." The film has a 53 out of 100 rating on Metacritic, meaning mixed to positive reviews.
2006–09: Educated Horses and the Halloween franchise
Work on Zombie's third studio album began in 2005, whilst Zombie was finishing The Devil's Rejects. Zombie was quoted as saying that the album had influences from Glam Rock artists like Slade, T. Rex, and Gary Glitter. The album has been described as an "experiment" by Zombie, and features numerous acoustic led songs. The finished product, Educated Horses, was released on March 28, 2006 and sold 107,000 copies in its first week of release, debuting at number 5 on the Billboard 200. In its second week it dropped to number fourteen, selling a further 46,720 copies. The song "The Lords of Salem" was nominated for the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance of 2008. The album received mixed critical reviews, with Rolling Stone writing "A handful of cuts are too long on sludgy instrumental grooves, but whether Zombie is out-Trent Reznoring Trent Reznor on the sitar-laden grindfest "17 Year Locust" or spitting fire amid the apocalyptic blues riffs of "The Devil's Rejects," he sounds like a gifted schlockmeister that Strokes fans can enjoy. Or at least tolerate."
In 2006, it was announced that Zombie had signed on to write and direct a remake of the 1978 horror film classic Halloween. After the announcement, Zombie posted on his official MySpace page, stating "...what I am doing is starting totally from scratch. This is the new HALLOWEEN. Call it a remake, an update, a reimaging or whatever, but one thing that for sure is this is a whole new start... a new beginning with no connection to the other series. That is exactly why the project appeals to me. I can take it and run with it." Zombie later referred to the film as a "re-imagining" of the original John Carpenter film. Zombie's remake of Halloween was officially released on August 31, 2007 to 3,472 theaters in North America, giving it the widest release of any of the previous Halloween films. On its opening day, Halloween grossed $10,896,610, and immediately surpassed the opening weekend grosses for several of the original series's films. From September 1–2, Halloween earned $8,554,661 and $6,911,096, respectively, for a 3-day opening weekend total of $26,362,367. The film would earn an additional $4,229,392 on Labor Day for a 4-day holiday weekend gross of $30,591,759. Thanks to its opening weekend of $30.5 million, the film broke the box-office record for the Labor Day weekend, surpassing the record set in 2005 by Transporter 2 with $20.1 million. It still currently resides as the top Labor Day weekend grosser. Zombie's remake has since become the highest grossing of the series, not adjusted for inflation.
Initially, Zombie has stated that he would begin working on a new original film, titled Tyrannosaurus Rex, which was slated for a 2009 release date. Despite previously stating he would not direct a sequel for his Halloween remake, it was later announced he would be both writing and directing a sequel for the film, tentatively titled H2. Due to his decision, the film Tyrannosaurus Rex was put on hold until after work on the second installment for the Halloween remake franchise was complete. Zombie later confirmed that his version of Halloween II would have little to do with the original 1981 sequel, but would instead focus on the effects that the events of the first film have had on survivor Laurie Strode. Dimension Films released Halloween II in North America on August 28, 2009 to 3,025 theaters. Following that, the film was released in the United Kingdom on October 9, 2009. Dimension re-released Halloween II in North America on October 30, 2009 to coincide with the Halloween holiday, across 1,083 theaters. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 12, 2010; the theatrical cut and an unrated director's cut, which Zombie says is "very different from the theatrical version," are available. By the end of his theatrical run, Halloween II grossed a total of $33,392,973 in North America, and an additional $5,925,616 overseas for a worldwide total of $39,318,589. Compared to the other Halloween films, the 2009 sequel sits in fourth place, just behind the original Halloween. Following the completion of the film, Zombie confirmed he would not make another sequel.
Variety Magazine announced the weekend before the release of Halloween II that Zombie would be directing a remake of the 1950s film The Blob. Zombie later chose to back out of the film as he "didn't want to do another remake". Zombie was the executive producer of the animated film The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, based upon his comic book series The Adventures of El Superbeasto. The series previously appeared in his Spookshow International comic book. The film was released in limited showings at selected theaters on September 12, 2009, and to DVD on September 22, 2009. It features the voices of Tom Papa, Paul Giamatti, Zombie's wife Sheri Moon Zombie, and Rosario Dawson.
2010–present: Move to Roadrunner, Hellbilly Deluxe 2 and Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor
It was announced in 2009 that Zombie had begun working on his fourth studio album, the follow up to his 2006 album Educated Horses. Before the album's release, it was confirmed that Zombie had parted ways with Geffen Records, and had signed a new deal with Roadrunner Records. On the split, Zombie stated "I was really loving the album, and I was very nervous about Geffen because over the years they've sort of just, you know, morphed into a different label [...] They've gone from being like the premiere hard rock label, back in the day that I signed to, to something else. It just didn't feel good to me, and I thought, like, 'I've got to get off this label.' You know, we pulled the release date obviously and I was like, you know, no matter what it takes, it's worth it, let's just find a new label, 'cause this just isn't working for me anymore." Zombie later confirmed the title of his new album to be Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool. He later explained that the album was titled as a sequel to his 1998 debut because they sounded similar in both "vibe" and "attitude". The album was released on February 2, 2010. Hellbilly Deluxe 2 received average or mixed reviews from critics. On Metacritic, the album earned a score of 63/100 based on ten reviews. The album debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 49,000 copies in its first week of release. A special edition of the album was released on September 28, 2010 featuring three new songs.
In 2011, Zombie confirmed that he was working on a new film. The horror film, The Lords of Salem, gets its title from a song off of Zombie's third studio album, Educated Horses. It is about the city of Salem, Massachusetts being visited by a coven of ancient witches. The film started shooting on October 17, 2011. The trailer debuted at Zombie's concert on May 11, 2012, at the PNC Bank Arts Center. In an interview Zombie said that the film would be his cinematically biggest film and described it as "if Ken Russell directed The Shining". The Lords of Salem became the last film of veteran actor Richard Lynch, who died in 2012. The Lords of Salem screened at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival before being released in the United States in April 2013. In 2012, it was revealed that Zombie would also be writing and directing a film titled The Broad Street Bullies, which would be based on the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team. The film will be Zombie's first non-horror film. Zombie has since stated that the film was in the "research stages", and a release date is unknown. Zombie later stated that Tyrannosaurus Rex would be his next released film after The Lords of Salem.
Zombie has also confirmed that he is currently working on his fifth studio album. Recording for the project began in June 2012. "We just want to make a dark, heavy, weird record and stick to that idea [...] If something comes up that isn't, we won't finish it. We'll stick to the plan."
Rob Zombie has been touring with Marilyn Manson in the US and Europe on the Twins of Evil Tour. On January 30, 2013, Rob Zombie announced that the fifth record would be called Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor and the album was released April 23. The lead single from Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor called "Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown" was released on February 25, 2013.
Aside from his musical and directorial career, Zombie has also taken part in numerous other ventures. He appeared in the 1994 film Airheads, along with the rest of his band White Zombie, where they performed their single "Feed the Gods". Zombie has also composed music for occasions other than his own albums or soundtracks. He composed the original score for the video game Twisted Metal III, released in 1998. His music is featured in both Twisted Metal III and IV, and he is a playable character in the fourth game. He also composed the score for the video game Gran Turismo 2, released in 1999. His song "Dragula" is one of the tracks in the game. Zombie also directed and wrote a fictitious trailer for the film Werewolf Women of the SS, which was seen in the 2007 film Grindhouse, directed by Robert Rodriguez. Before the success of White Zombie, he was also part of production for the series Pee-wee's Playhouse. Zombie has also taken part in numerous stints as an actor, mostly with voice-only roles. He has an uncredited role as "Dr. Wolfenstein's assistant" in his directorial debut film House of 1000 Corpses. He has provided his voice to animated series Spider-Man: The New Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, portraying Dr. Kurt Connors and Ichthultu, respectively. He has a voice-only cameo in the 2006 film Slither as Dr. Karl, and another voice-only role as God in Super, released in 2010. Zombie has also done work with comic books, having numerous series available. His Spookshow International series launched in November 2003, and went on to produce nine editions, with the last coming out in July 2004. His second series, The Nail, spawned four issues between June and October 2004, while his Bigfoot series lasted from February to May 2005, spawning four issues. The Devil's Rejects was a set of comics based after Zombie's film of the same name, while The Haunted World of El Superbeasto would later be turned into Zombie's first animated film. Zombie's seventh and latest series, Whatever Happened to Baron Von Shock? spawned four issues in 2010.
Zombie has been an ethical vegetarian for over 30 years, and is a supporter of PETA.
Rob Zombie announced his Great American Nightmare haunted house experience on Los Angeles for this Halloween season. From October 10 through November 2, 2013 at the Fairplex FEARplex in Pomona, CA. Zombie will combine haunted house attractions Lords Of Salem Total Black Out, The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto 3D, and House Of 1,000 Corpses with a music festival from top artists in hard rock, alternative, EDM, and more.
Zombie's music has been noted for its use of horror and suspense elements, which is inspired by Zombie's love of horror films. Zombie's music also contains elements commonly found in heavy metal and alternative metal music. Zombie's music has been described as "melding metal with industrial, hypnotic rhythms and haunting sounds" and having a "complicated beat, distinctive vocals and a killer story line". Zombie's songs have also been known to feature quotes and samples from classic horror films. Numerous songs on his debut album, Hellbilly Deluxe, feature quotes from films such as The Last House on the Left, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, and Mark of the Devil. It has been stated that Zombie's music "explore [his] fascination with psychotic noise, pummeling grooves, campy samples, and all things horrific." Zombie has classified himself as a metal musician, and stated "It felt like hard rock and heavy metal had really been struggling you know, like top of the charts – it felt like they were being kicked to the curb for a long time. It was almost like you were doing something but you feel like nobody cares anymore so now you’re just chuggin’ along doing what you do and it’s like the world had forgotten. However it’s felt like in the last few years that’s kind of changed and you feel it coming back."
Zombie's music heavily draws influence from classic horror films and suspense films. He has listed Alice Cooper, KISS, Queen, and Elton John as some of his influences growing up. In addition, he has stated that the first record he bought was an Alice Cooper record. Zombie's "Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy) music video is heavily inspired by A Clockwork Orange. Zombie later revealed to People magazine that while he was growing up, he was not allowed to watch films such as A Clockwork Orange or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the latter of which heavily influenced Zombie's films House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel The Devil's Rejects. Zombie's music videos are also inspired by horror films, with his "Living Dead Girl" music video being based upon the 1920 silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
- Hellbilly Deluxe: 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside the Spookshow International (1998)
- The Sinister Urge (2001)
- Educated Horses (2006)
- Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool (2010)
- Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor (2013)
Solo band members
- Rob Zombie – vocals (1997–current)
- John 5 – guitar, backing vocals (2005–current)
- Piggy D. – bass guitar, backing vocals (2006–current)
- Ginger Fish – drums, percussion (2011–current)
- Mike Riggs – guitar (1997–2003)
- Blasko – bass guitar, vocals (1997–2006)
- John Tempesta – drums, percussion, vocals (1997–2004)
- Tommy Clufetos – drums, percussion (2005–2010)
- Joey Jordison – drums, percussion (2010–2011)
- Official website
- Discovering "The Haunted World of El Superbeasto" With Rob Zombie
- Rob Zombie at the Internet Movie Database
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