Rob Zombie proved that he was an interesting director of remakes with his two Halloween films. He didn’t just remake them, he also updated them so that the films were in sync with his vision of unhinged rednecks and graphic violence. Like Quentin Tarantino, Zombie pays homage to the films that influenced him, something seen in his movies, videos, and music. Zombie’s aesthetic is similar to splatterpunk horror legend Edward Lee, an author whose book White Trash Gothic perfectly sums up in its title the vision of both Lee and Zombie alike. Zombie would be perfect to direct the deranged Edward Lee classic The Bighead, which mixes perverse monsters with equally perverse people. There are a lot of titles that would benefit from a Zombie remake, especially as Zombie continues this trend and shows how adept he is at modernizing classics with his unique style.
He has adapted the popular ’60s TV show The Munsters into a film, proving that he enjoys the challenge of remaking or re-envisioning a cult horror film or show. His remake of Halloween was great because it was loyal to the original film yet also wildly inventive and an example of Zombie’s unique style. It also gave him a chance to cast Sherri Moon Zombie into a great role as Michael’s mother. She also plays a major character in all eight of Zombie’s feature films. She’s not his only muse though; Zombie’s influences are obvious, so it is not difficult to predict which films and series he could wonderfully remake or re-imagine. The following titles might be the most interesting.
Updated September 11th, 2023, bySean Shuman: This article has been updated with even more films that Rob Zombie should remake to keep the discussion fresh.
13 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Would it be too easy for Rob Zombie to put his spin on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari? Fans of Zombie’s music will remember that he paid tribute to this famous German Expressionist film in his music video for “Living Dead Girl,” with Sherri Moon Zombie playing the eponymous deceased woman. Zombie himself would play Caligari, recreating Werner Krauss’ original performance with a bit more bravado and a lot more facial hair. Jokes aside, the music video incorporated multiple filmmaking techniques from the original 1920 film, with static close-up shots, surreal painted backgrounds, and interstitial text describing the video’s events.
Being one of the first horror movies, Dr. Caligari would lay the foundation for future horror films to come. Given how colorfully nightmarish the original film was, it wouldn’t be ludicrous to suggest that Zombie should take a crack at remaking it. There’s a clear understanding of what made the original film so effective, and given that elements established throughout the German Expressionist movement would be found in several of Zombie’s films, it had a clear influence on his body of work.
12 White Zombie (1932)
Admittedly, this one is a little obvious. White Zombie is an especially important film in Rob Zombie’s career, notable for being the very film that inspired his now-iconic stage name. As another classic horror film, it’s also recognized as the first major example of a “zombie” movie, predating George Romero’s famous Night of the Living Dead by 36 years. The film sees Bela Lugosi playing a supernatural zombie master whose powers can convert others into the undead.
Though it may not match the caliber of Lugosi’s Dracula, Rob Zombie has had an infatuation with White Zombie for years. It’s frequently listed as one of his favorite horror films, its soundtrack would be re-released under his “Rob Zombie Presents” label, and it was an instrumental film in forging Zombie’s unique brand of music. It would make sense to see him pay tribute to White Zombie with a full-on remake if he ever gets the chance.
11 House of Wax (1953)
The out-of-this-world premise of House of Wax feels eerily tailored toward Rob Zombie’s eclectic direction. Released as the first-ever color 3D film, House of Wax places Vincent Price as the proprietor of a pristine wax figure museum. However, when his museum is inadvertently destroyed, he turns to a new method of curation to replace his lost figures. Instead of carving them by hand, he opts to simply murder others and encase their bodies in wax as macabre reflections of their demise.
Though House of Wax would receive a remake in 2005, it was mainly derivative of other horror remakes that proliferated in the mid-2000s. Zombie’s creative direction would lend a modernized House of Wax something new, eschewing the blatant 3D gimmicks of the original and the trend-chasing found in the 2005 remake in favor of something truly original. Alternatively, seeing Zombie take on a period-piece horror film would also be a real treat.
10 Death Race 2000 (1975)
Considering that Rob Zombie wrote “Dragula,” having him direct a remake of Death Race 2000 would feel appropriate. This grindhouse science-fiction flick sees David Carradine donning the persona of “Frankenstein,” a beloved icon of the Transcontinental Road Race. The event, which pits bombastic racers in a competitive death race, reflects a dystopian future where wanton destruction is not only appreciated but encouraged. However, when the truth behind Frankenstein’s identity is revealed, a resistance group stitched into the race’s inner workings may give him a chance to stop the race for good.
The over-the-top costumes, the hilariously exaggerated violence, and the utter disregard for anything morally right make Death Race 2000 a perfect candidate for a Rob Zombie remake. He could either double down on the film’s sense of humor or twist it into something more genuinely horrifying. Either way, it’d at least be better than the 2008 remake.
9 Psychomania (1973)
Psychomania‘s premise and costume designs already feel adjacent to Rob Zombie’s films. Released in 1973, this biker-centric horror film sees a terrifying gang known as “The Living Dead” tampering with forces beyond human understanding. After their leader begins practicing magic, a sudden tragedy strikes, gradually turning the gang into a horde of the undead one by one. Though it was initially reviewed poorly, the time has been kind to Psychomania, with many praising its effective stunts and moody atmosphere despitef a low budget.
An outlaw biker gang, black magic, a horde of zombies, and helmets adorned with skulls amount to a movie that deserves Rob Zombie’s creative direction. There’s an intriguing combination of elements here that could amount to a terrific remake in the right hands.
8 Beavis and Butt-Head (1992)
Rob Zombie’s Beavis and Butt-Head would be one hilarious film. One of Zombie’s least-known projects is The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, a super raunchy animated movie. Zombie has a wicked sense of dirty humor and an obvious love of animation. In addition to this, he worked on the Pee Wee Herman Show as a set designer, so he understands the material that is both funny and that would appeal to a child, and at the same time subversive and bizarre enough to keep adult fans watching.
With that in mind, who better to make a Beavis and Butt-Head film (except, of course, for the original animator Mike Judge, who has already given us a pretty funny movie, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America)? There could even be a scene where Beavis and Butt-Head watch a White Zombie video and make fun of it! White Zombie even has a song on the soundtrack to Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, so there’s already a connection.
7 Caligula (1979)
If there is one thing that Rob Zombie loves, it’s some good, sleazy X-rated fun. Few mainstream films have ever given us as much exploitation and sleaze as Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione’s masterpiece Caligula, a film big enough to rope in huge mainstream stars such as Hellen Mirren, Peter O’Toole, and Malcolm McDowell. Zombie is a huge fan of McDowell, having cast him in Halloween, Halloween II, and 31, and showing his admiration for A Clockwork Orange in one of his videos.
Caligulawas extremely controversial for its use of sex, depravity, and torture, three things that dominate most of Zombie’s work. The Devils’ Rejects, for example, has torture scenes borrowed from Last House on the Left, such as in the motel room scene where Sherri Moon Zombie makes one victim violently slap and abuse another hostage. Because Sherri Moon Zombie always has a major role in any Rob Zombie film, we can assume she would play Drusilla (previously portrayed by Teresa Ann Savoy). Sherri Moon has shown in Zombie’s films that she can be a dangerous and sadistic lunatic, capable of violent and extreme behavior while still maintaining her appeal, and would truly elevate Caligula.
6 Carnival of Souls (1962)
Carnival of Souls is a gothic cult horror film from the 1960s that is most famous for a sequence in which the lead actress seemingly becomes deaf and there are over 15 minutes of silence in this highly symbolic film, which has already given birth to one unfortunate remake. Again, Rob Zombie loves casting his wife of 20 years, Sherri Moon Zombie, in great horror roles. Carnival of Souls, like Zombie’s own Lords of Salem, centers on a woman who is going through a mental breakdown.
Sherri has never let us down and would do a great job as the lead in Carnival of Souls, one of the first horror films with a sole female lead. Zombie would appreciate the creepy and cult nature of the film and its unique weirdness, and like Halloween, it looks like he could create quite an original remake that is both loyal to the original yet also represents his dark, twisted vision.
5 Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975)
Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS is a notorious exploitation film about a female SS leader who engages in vicious torture and sexual assault of the women and men under her command. In Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s double feature Grindhouse, Zombie did a fake trailer called Werewolf Women of the SS, and Sherri Moon Zombie plays a sadistic Nazi SS werewolf.
Zombie is enamored of this small subgenre of ‘Nazisploitation,’ which is as trashy and offensive as it sounds. Thus, a perfect film to remake for him would be Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, or, in fact, any of the other Ilsa films, such as Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks. Whatever film she is in, Ilsa is perverted and sadistic. These films all have dedicated cult followings because they are just flat-out bonkers! Zombie would cast Sherri Moon Zombie as Ilsa, as she has a major lead role in all of his films, and she is a terrific exploitation actress who would give an extraordinary performance.
4 The Last House on the Left (1972)
The Last House on the Left is such an obvious influence on Rob Zombie and his directing style. In that film, there is cruel and perverse torture, sadistic behavior to make you cringe, and a whole lot of violence. As pointed out earlier, Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects re-enacts some of Last House on the Left, when Sherri Moon Zombie forces one innocent victim to physically abuse another hostage.
Last House on the Left may have been the ultimate exploitation film from the 1970s, and Zombie pays homage to and shows the influence of such 1970s exploitation shockers as The Last House on the Left,The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Hills Have Eyes. Zombie even has The Hills Have Eyes star Michael Berryman in many of his films. The Last House on the Left has already been remade, but that shouldn’t stop another remake which presumably would be better than the mediocre other.
3 Freaks (1932)
When asked why his dialogue consists of foul language, Zombie has defended this by referring to the common trope of ‘writing what you know.’ Zombie grew up in a world of carnivals and sideshows, and that type of talk is what he grew up listening to. Since he grew up surrounded by sideshows and human oddities, he is a perfect choice to direct a remake of the original Dracula director Todd Browning’s exploitation horror classic Freaks, which features the oft-quoted chant of “One of us! One of us! One of us!”
Zombie is at home in the world of so-called ‘freaks,’ which can be seen in his films. For example, the character Tiny Firefly from House of 1,000 Corpses was one of the largest men on the planet and in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the tallest actor. Wearing a bizarre-looking mask, he appears as a genuinely frightening character, intimidating because of his size. In film 31, little people (including a miniature Hitler) attack the traveling show members who are the film’s protagonists. Zombie has compassion and love for these people and puts them in his movies, and he would be great at directing the savage revenge exploitation film Freaks. Zombie could have done a great job with the 2021 remake of the noir classic Nightmare Alley, which takes place at a carnival.
2 Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)
If there is one thing Zombie is known for, it is his blue-collar villains, and one of the most notorious films about Southern redneck evil is Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Two Thousand Maniacs! The film follows a group of Northeastern Yankees taking a trip down South, where they encounter a village that is all set to start their annual festival, and that warmly welcomes the Yankee tourists. However, it’s a big ruse and the festival involves torturing and executing the Yankees in the most macabre and gruesome ways.
H.G. Lewis films are ripe for remakes — they have great ideas, yet were filmed on such a low budget that they look like they could be updated to make them less cheesy. Several years ago, Jeremy Kasten remade HG Lewis’ The Wizard of Gore with Crispin Glover and the result was an amazingly over-the-top modern grindhouse classic. Rob Zombie can similarly update Two Thousand Maniacs!, making it gorier, more macabre, and more realistic. The themes of the South against the North would fit perfectly within Zombie’s oeuvre.
1 Helter Skelter (1976)
Rob Zombie has always had a fascination with Charles Manson. The title of his song “Cease to Exist” comes from a Charles Manson song, and Zombie narrated a documentary called Charles Manson: The Final Words. Helter Skelter is the made-for-television film that was made about Manson and the Manson Family, yet it was inaccurate and inflammatory, based on the outlandish book by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi (called the “Bug” by Manson Family members). At one point in the book, in trying to portray Manson as the embodiment of evil, the author ridiculously states that Manson glared at him and that it made his watch stop. He uses this questionable story to make Manson almost supernaturally evil.
A more realistic film about the killers needs to be made, and Rob Zombie is the right person to do it, as evidenced by his attachment to the documentary. Zombie likes to combine violence with trippy psychedelics, which is very evident in his music, and there is no better story of violent psychedelia than Helter Skelter. Another reason was that Zombie, from his documentary, seems to know the objective truths about the case, while Helter Skelter was little more than a propaganda film that made Manson into America’s boogeyman. Zombie can be trusted to tell the story as it happened in a psychedelic way.