By the mid-2000’s, director Rob Zombie had established himself as a formidable voice within the horror genre. I’ve compared Zombie before to Quentin Tarantino—both filmographies share witty, foul-mouthed characters and eclectic musical choices—so it makes perfect sense to me that the two (along with Robert Rodriguez) would collaborate on a project. In 2007, Tarantino and Rodriguez released GRINDHOUSE, a double-feature nostalgia piece that emulated the 70’s heyday of low-budget exploitation flicks. The film incorporated a few rather fun conceits, one of which was a series of trailers for fake “upcoming” films that played between the features, each one done by a different director. Some of these trailers would actually become features in their own right (MACHETE (2010) and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (2011)).
Zombie’s contribution, the cheesy/gothic WEREWOLF WOMEN OF THE SS, combines two disparate horror archetypes (werewolves and Nazis) in a way that make a weird sort of sense. To realize this morbidly entertaining idea, Zombie calls on his regular group of performers like Tom Towles, Bille Moseley, and wife Sheri Moon Zombie to assume the guise of Nazi officers, scientists and seductresses. He also brings in a few new, very surprising faces in the form of supreme weirdo Udo Kier and a show-stopping Nicolas Cage as the (suspiciously-Anglo) Chinese sorcerer Fu Manchu.
Because his aesthetic is already so aligned with the grungy, warped texture of Tarantino and Rodriguez’s vision, Zombie doesn’t have to change anything about his visual style. If anything, he only needs to amplify things like film scratches and jitters. The high production value on display is pushed towards campy fun rather than outright horror. There’s not a lot to say in regards to Zombie’s growth as a filmmaker—the piece exists mainly as an opportunity to play with his favorite actors while poking fun at both himself and the horror genre in general. WEREWOLF WOMEN OF THE SS is a fun peek into what a Zombie film would look like if blown up to the epic scale that the trailer hints at.
WEREWOLF WOMEN OF THE SS is available via the Youtube embed above.