Why Rob Zombie Tends To Kill Off The Final Girl In His Movies


Rob Zombie has been making music for over 35 years, releasing ten studio albums either as a solo artist or with the defunct White Zombie, but the 21st Century has seen him arguably become more well known as a filmmaker than a recording artist. The man born Robert Cummings has written and directed seven feature films, adult animated musical The Haunted World of El Superbeasto and a fake trailer for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse that starred Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu in Werewolf Women of the S.S.

Zombie’s filmography has been based entirely in R-rated horror, and while his output tends to find a loyal and dedicated following, with many of his flicks enjoying lasting status as cult favorites, he’s also experienced some major commercial success after helming 2007’s Halloween remake and the sequel, which combined to earn almost $120 million at the box office.

The 55 year-old’s work may not be the subject of widespread critical acclaim, but he certainly knows his audience, and Zombie often goes out of his way to deliberately subvert the tropes of the horror genre. The ‘final girl’ is one of the most well-worn archetypes, and always sees the female lead overcome the villain that’s killed the rest of the supporting cast, but Zombie is having none of it.

As ScreenRant explains:

Rob Zombie’s movies want to scare and disturb their audience, but on some level, they also want to prove just how much the director understands and loves the horror genre. Zombie repeatedly pays tribute toward and re-contextualizes classic horror tropes in an attempt to gain ownership of the genre. One of the longest-standing horror standards is the tradition of the final girl, yet even this is something that Zombie defies. Instead, he chooses to throw his leading ladies into harm’s way and, more importantly, they don’t always survive.

Zombie wants to surprise his audience, but a number of horror movies have been repeatedly successful because of the cathartic safety they provide at the end. Zombie often robs the audience of that in favor of a big scare. That can sometimes be effective, but it’s now become predictable with the director in the same way that the final girl’s survival used to be. Rob Zombie wants to prove that nothing is sacred, whether that’s standard horror tropes or beloved genre characters

House of 1000 Corpses, Lords of Salem and Halloween II all play with the established formula, and while the results aren’t always successful, you at least have to give him credit for trying to bring something new to familiar stock characters and tropes that have been done a thousand times over. Rob Zombie is never going to direct a big budget blockbuster or a prestige drama, but he’ll always have a solid fanbase if he continues doing what he’s been doing for the last seventeen years.