Rob Zombie’s first animated feature since The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is a mixture of sugar and spice, muffins and macabre.
These are fitting mixtures considering his casting choice for the film’s heroine. Zombie’s ex-stripper, voice actress wife, Sheri Moon voices the film’s protagonist, Hillary Dee. Dee is a tattooed Betty Boop look-a-like. Her behavior is at times endearing, but mostly frustrating. A sweet girl, the young adult often makes terrible mistakes in her search for love after escaping an abusive childhood. Her erratic mood swings are at times unbelievable. Things get twisted when she meets who she believes to be “The one”, aptly named, B. Tre. The unexpected villain is drawn to be reminiscent of a 1950’s cartoon wolf leering at a voluptuous night club singer, but in a sheepskin jacket. Robert Englund is the voice behind Tre. Englund’s frightening tones make Christian Bale’s Batman sound near angelic.
After Tre puts a ring on Dee’s finger, they decide to have a baby. Things get messy when the pregnant girl meets the darker side of her alcoholic fiancé. Her biggest love soon becomes her biggest mistake.
Zombie’s attempt at illustrating an abusive relationship becomes messy and headache inducing. The constant bombardment of loud music and flashing violent images threaten to provoke seizures from audience members. Viewers may also become uncomfortable at the sight of a pregnant, bruised, knocked-up Betty Boop knock off.
Though there comes a point where Dee barely speaks, the voices in her head makes themselves heard. Helena Bonham Carter is the voice of insanity and Hynden Walch (Adventure Time) voices Dee’s inner lost child.
Amidst the chaos, nine months come to an end and the baby is born. Fearing for her daughter’s safety, Dee decides to leave Tre. But a horde of zombies come to the hospital and follow her home, staggering around for a while. Instead of the traditional quest for brains, these zombies instill fear and doubt. “Your child needs her father,” “You’re over exaggerating,” “You’re asking for it,” they moan.
These vapid characters stay in the film for way too long, but things get interesting when Dee finally takes a stand. She leaves the wolf and takes him to court. The court process is shown through gorgeously gory metaphors. Heads fly, literally. Dee’s Hello Kitty sneakers crush skulls, her sweet tooth becomes a weapon, her quiet tongue fiendishly laps up the blood from her cherry red lips. While some scenes depict her as a pixie, others show her drawn as a mama wild cat with human flesh caught on her claws.
The zombies following her around are replaced by a quirky, wise cracking support group (Larry David, Louis CK, Amy Schumer). Dee’s daughter, who we see grow from baby to toddler, adds sunshine to the intense feel of the film. Patience, Shirley Temple in ink on paper, is a tough cookie with a wicked smile. Her baby blues don’t shed a tear when she skins her knee, and her scratchy rock star voice, thanks to Pamela Adlon (King of the Hill, Californication), encourages Dee to keep going.
HorrorPops’s S.O.B made for a wicked opening song to the film. The band is also behind the rest of the soundtrack.
Zombie has made a career out of paying homage to monster movies and freaky flicks. In Licorice Noose he tackled the horrors of an abusive relationship. Though it was convoluted at times, and the relationship between Dee and Tre seemed drawn-out, the musician/director/illustrator used animation to express indescribable emotions and unnamed terrors.
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