2012’s THE LORDS OF SALEM served as a modest return to glory for director Rob Zombie after the disappointment of HALLOWEEN II (2009). However, he knew he couldn’t afford to rest on his laurels. In 2013, he dove back into his music career with the release of a new album, and with new music comes new music videos. Zombie was happy to get behind the camera once more to direct the video for his new album’s lead single, “DEAD CITY RADIO AND THE NEW GODS OF SUPERTOWN”.
The piece is very different from Zombie’s previous music videos, in that it is relatively sedate; the camera never moves. Instead, Zombie chooses to lock off the camera and capture several different tableaus anchored by him performing to the fourth wall inside a dingy ruin of a warehouse. He surrounds himself with a variety of eccentric and macabre characters that appropriately embody Zombie’s carnivalesque persona, and one of them might even be his wife Sheri Moon (although it’s difficult to know for sure). Contrasting with the usual grunginess, Zombie shoots the entire piece digitally and gives it a sleek monochromatic look that enhances the artfulness of his compositions.
In choosing to refrain from flashy camera movements, Zombie has to convey his authorship primarily through the art direction. Once again, he incorporates Halloween imagery in the form of breakdancing skeletons, gothic burlesque dancers, muscle-men in clown suits, and even the big Robot Head mask he’s used in previous videos. Despite Zombie’s evolution towards a mellower style of photography, his affinity for surrounding himself with freaks, ghouls, and goblins is still the same as it ever was.
As of this writing, “DEAD CITY RADIO” is Zombie’s latest work. If it shows anything in terms of his development, it shows a commitment to the new aesthetic that he explored in THE LORDS OF SALEM. Zombie’s career has been relatively short so far—his works are contained to just over a decade—but he’s made remarkable strides in that time. He was able to overcome others’ initial doubts about his directing ability with several early works that proved he was both serious and knew exactly what he was doing. He experienced some growing pains when he made the shift into major studio filmmaking with HALLOWEEN (2007), so maybe the independent realm is where he truly belongs. His style isn’t for everyone, palatable maybe to his fervent followers and like-minded cinephiles, so it makes sense that he fares better here than in the mainstream. THE LORDS OF SALEM proved that Zombie hadn’t burned out quite yet, and positioned him alongside colleagues like Ti West and Adam Wingard as the new vanguards of intelligent, artful horror. He may revel in the darkness, but Zombie’s still got a bright career ahead of him.
“DEAD CITY RADIO AND THE NEW GODS OF SUPERTOWN” is currently available via the Youtube embed above.