February 7, 2020 Women in Horror Month – Sheri Moon Zombie
February is known as Black History Month. Why is it important? Because cultural history holds a great deal of value to the education of all people. However, in more recent years, February has also become known as Women in Horror Month. Also a subject matter that should be brought to the forefront, while often objectified in many a Horror film, women have stood strong to crush the stereotypes, become the hereos on screen, as well as to blaze a path behind the camera directing, producing, creating effects, and overall leading. That is why at Cryptic Rock magazine we are dedicated to honoring a different lady in Horror cinema each week of February, and in the opening week of February 2020 we look at the well-known and quite unique Sheri Moon Zombie.
One of the more prolific actresses within the modern Horror world, Sheri’s unhinged performances have given birth to a character that has been ingrained in brains of Horror fans everywhere – but more on that later. First we must look at her beginnings as a dancer and model, before she transcended into a notable Scream Queen.
Born Sheri Lyn Skurkis, known as Sheri Moon early on, she began her career as a model and dancer. Always having entertainment aspirations, she initially studied to be a VJ, but soon met Rob Zombie at the famous Toad’s Place in New Haven, Connecticut. From there she began working with Rob Zombie, first appearing in White Zombie’s music video for “Feed The Gods.” Then as Rob Zombie took his act on road as a solo artist, he asked Sheri to join as a dancer, choreographer, and costume designer. From here she quickly became a recognized and important part of Rob Zombie’s act and imagery, starring in his Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-inspired music video for “Living Dead Girl.” In fact, her face was plastered on merchandise everywhere, including various album covers such as 1999’s American Made Music to Strip By and the single for “Demon Speeding.” A match made in heaven, or hell, whichever way you would like to look at it, after nine years of dating and working together, Rob and Sheri eloped on Halloween in 2002.
Soon thereafter, in 2003, Rob Zombie introduced audiences to one of the most depraved families since the Sawyer family in 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – The Firefly family. A cult classic in the making, House of 1,000 Corpses debuted and spawned the infamous character alluded to earlier, Baby Firefly. A perfect fit for Sheri, as any good actor, she did what she could with the source material provided. Needless to say she shined bright with an interpretation that was a sight to see as her neon-and blood-soaked performance solidified her place in Horror. Afterwards, Sheri had a small role in Tobe Hooper’s 2004 film Toolbox Murders, starring alongside Angela Bettis.
Moving forward, 2005 saw her give her most visceral and gritty performance when she reprised her role as Baby in The Devil’s Rejects. In this sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses, they traded in cartoonish aesthetics and dream-like visuals to deliver a modern-day take on the ’70s Exploitation film, with all of the grit and brutality that comes with it. Arguably her standout performance, Sheri’s frightening portrayal took Baby from a homicidal sidekick to a full-blown monster as she, Otis, and Captain Spaulding tore through Texas. A film that was more well-received than its predecessor, Sheri took home the award for “Most Vile Villain,” alongside her co-stars Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook and Sid Haig at Spike TV’s Scream Awards. Additionally, Sheri and Moseley also took home a Fuse/Fangoria Chainsaw Award for “Best Duo.”
Proving her talents were not just on screen, the creative mind of Sheri went back to her designer roots, soon releasing her own clothing line called Total Skull back in the spring of 2006. Featuring everything from exclusive hoodies, tanks, and t-shirts, her clothes can be seen in a few of Rob Zombie’s films such as the hoodie worn by Scout Taylor-Compton in 2007’s Halloween. And for those who dug the threads she crafted, Total Skull will be making its comeback soon on Local Boogeyman, the Zombie’s merchandise site, where they feature a ton of other sick designs and merchandise inspired by their filmography.
So what else has the modern queen of Horror done? Well, Sheri added to her resume with a role in a short faux-trailer titled “Werewolf Women of the SS” for the 2007 film Grindhouse. The trailer starred Sheri and Sybil Danning as SS Officers inspired by old Sexploitation films like Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. Then Sheri soon traded in her werewolf teeth to take on the role of Deborah Myers in Rob Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake. Unlike the 1978 original film, Deborah played a larger role in the Rob Zombie films as we looked into the childhood of notorious killer, Michael Myers. At the time, this was the highest grossing film in the franchise, and Sheri’s Deborah being a stronger female lead could have certainly helped. Shortly after, Halloween II was released in 2008, where Sheri reprised her role in a less than conventional way by haunting Michael Myers.
We would be remiss not to mention one of Sheri’s most distinct attributes, her unmistakable voice. For those who do not realize it she actually had an interest in doing cartoon voice-overs early and studied such. That is why it suit her just perfect to voice the character Suzi-X, the sultry super-agent sidekick of a masked wrestler in Rob Zombie’s 2009 R-rated animated film The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. Going into 2012, Sheri took the lead in Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem as a troubled DJ named Heidi who gets involved with a coven of Satanic witches in Salem, MA. Keeping the energy flowing, Rob Zombie’s 31 saw Sheri as a heroine, instead of a homicidal maniac, in this period piece about a group of carnies that are kidnapped by a vicious gang of clowns called “The Heads.”
Which leads to her most recent role in the third installment in the House of 1,000 Corpses series, 3 From Hell. Here Sheri reprised her role as Baby as she and her brother Otis plot their escape from prison after being caught in the end of The Devil’s Rejects. A film that portrays the obsession that the public has with killers, again, this was also one of Sheri’s most chilling portrayals to date. Animalistic, with instincts to attract, hunt, and then kill without remorse, she took Baby’s already terrifying attributes and dialed them up to 100.
All these factors in place, it is easy to see why Sheri Moon Zombie is certainly one of modern Horror’s biggest stars over the last two decades. She has the ability to make grown men beg for their lives on screen, but in real life she a kind soul that fights for animal rights and runs a farm. Possessing a sweet girlish glee at times, her characters brutally slaughter victims as she puts them under a spell – all while she puts the gore in gorgeous.