The problem with most rock concert DVDs is that, while they capture and present the music and the show well enough (usually), they fail to really present the experience of the event. Most normally, they’re too narrow of view; those watching get some of the pomp and power of the presentation – usually from the four best, least obstructed angles in the venue – and that’s about it. Does that make the presentation poor? Not necessarily, it just makes them formulaic, which means most viewers with a clue already know they’re going to like what the band playing has in store for them, or not.
Without intending to sound too contrary, The Zombie Horror Picture Show (Rob Zombie‘s inaugural live DVD) does not play like every other live DVD you’ve ever seen at all. Shot in Texas (which, for this band, is the ideal place to be because the crowd is off the hinges from note one) at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion and Gexa Energy Pavillion, this video gets the music and the image of the band with vivid clarity, but an army of cameramen also capture the crowd – the excitement and hedonistic insanity of it – to give a sense of what the show is really like. It’s really affecting to see; the cameras are on the stage and in the crowd and shoot with a variety of formats (black and white, color, wide-angle and more) to give a sensation of overload, and the images of the audience writhing in ecstatic rapture to the music (that is not an overstatement – the number of clothes lost is impressive) are just incredible. You’ll really wish you were there as you watch it.
… And while the crowd feeds the band their fleshy, rapturous energy, the band blasts a fantastic soundtrack back at them. This being his first live DVD, Zombie goes out of his way to make sure that no hit goes unplayed in this set (material both from his solo albums and from White Zombie’s catalogue is included) and not one of them ever gets glossed over; each song gets played to the hilt. The show is huge from the opening moments when Zombie is lowered to the stage on a hanging catwalk as the band (manned by Ginger Fish, John 5 and Piggy D) powers out “Teenage Nosferatu Pussy” to open the set through the tongue-in-cheek, souped up cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” and the ‘blast from the past’ vibe of “More Human Than Human” in performance; the power (and volume) is always amped up and the band is always standing tall as the master of everything the audience is seeing and hearing, but they still clearly relish in the reaction as much as the audience is loving what the band is giving them.
While most bands might choose to put a bit of ebb and flow in their set (maybe a slower song here or dramatic build there), The Zombie Horror Picture Show never dips below the “full-tilt” speed they set at the beginning of the show at any point during the eighty-minute run (the lights barely dim in that time!) . Each song here is a beast and rocks like it and then, after orgiastic takes of “Thunder Kiss ’65” and “Dragula,” Zombie stomps up, wishes the audience “Good fucking night!” and the band walks off. There is no encore or any indulgent nonsense (like “Special Features”) on this DVD; in the end, the credits roll and that’s it. And no one complains! No one has any right to – front to back, the exertion made in this presentation is obvious and to be respected. While most rock DVDs leave a bit to be desired, The Zombie Horror Picture Show simply does not; it is spectacular.