After he finished directing Halloween II, Rob Zombie stepped in to direct one of CSI: Miami’s most unusual episodes in this strange collaboration.
Rob Zombie is a filmmaker who has had quite the interesting reputation with the horror genre, but one of his most surprising projects is when he directed an installment of CBS’ CSI: Miami.
During the early 2000s, CBS found tremendous success with their procedural crime series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The show was able to evolve into a genuine franchise where multiple series ran for decades and amassed hundreds of episodes. It can sometimes be easy to write off the formulaic aspect of the CSI programs, but they brought murder investigations to the mainstream in a significant way. Even though the series were more comfortable to follow a pattern than to push the envelope, there are still a few instances where the CSI franchise tried to get a little more ambitious.
One of the biggest things about procedural crime series is that every episode is more or less supposed to look the same, and they can virtually be watched in any order, which is another advantage for syndicated airings. That being said, the original CSI series employed Quentin Tarantino to direct a double-episode season finale that’s easily one of the show’s strongest efforts and CSI: NY brought Joe Dante on to helm a Halloween episode of their series. While those projects were amicable experiences, matters were considerably different when Rob Zombie was brought in to direct an episode of CSI: Miami, hot on the heels of Halloween II’s release.
Rob Zombie Directs Episode, “L.A.,” From CSI: Miami Season 8
Rob Zombie and CSI: Miami don’t seem like the most natural pairing, and it’s why the director’s contribution makes for such an unusual episode of the series. “L.A.” looks at a notorious pornographer who was previously acquitted over his wife’s murder, but when more bodies begin to show up, Horatio Caine becomes convinced that he’s responsible. Zombie fills the episode with allusions to Satanism, and Nosferatu is even projected onto a wall in the killer’s murder room. The soundtrack is also vintage Zombie, with The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin'” and a track of his own, “Virgin Witch,” both popping up.
Zombie doesn’t hesitate to enlist his usual cohorts, and four actors from his Halloween films—Malcolm McDowell, William Forsythe, Michael Madsen, and Sheri Moon Zombie—all have roles in the episode. “L.A.” is filled with gruesome deaths, but it still feels like a watering down of Zombie’s sensibilities. The episode garnered nearly the highest ratings for the entire season, but Zombie has referred to the experience as the “longest three weeks of [his] life.”
Zombie constantly clashed with producers and did not get along at all with CSI: Miami’s star, David Caruso. McDowell has even admitted that he largely agreed to be in the episode just so he could mess around with Caruso and annoy him. The contentious experience is probably why Rob Zombie is unlikely to return to directing network television, but “L.A.” still makes for one of CSI: Miami’s weirdest episodes.