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RELEASED: 2003, Cert. 18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 89 mins
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY: Rob Zombie
PRODUCER: Andy Gould
MUSIC: Scott Humphrey & Rob Zombie
Rainn Wilson as Bill
Chris Hardwick as Jerry
Erin Daniels as Denise
Jennifer Jostyn as Mary
Sid Haig as Capt. Spaulding
Shen Moon Zombie as Baby
Robert Mukes as Rufus
Karen Black as Mother Firefly
Dennis Fimple as Grampa Hugo
Bill Moseley as Otis
Matthew McGrory as Tiny
FILM ONLY REVIEW
It is the day before Halloween and the year is 1977. Two student couples are travelling around (presumably in the Deep South) doing some research on unusual roadside attractions, as they want to gather enough material to write a book on the subject.
They stop at a filling station which incorporates The Museum Of Monsters & Madness run by Capt. Spaulding, who tells them of a local legend....that of Dr. Satan who'd been hanged from a tree some years earlier....which may be of interest and use in their research. Clutching a map crudely drawn by Spaulding, the group hits the road.
It is raining torrentially, and they see a young girl hitchhiking, who they stop to pick up. The hitchhiker (Baby) says she lives just a mile or so down the road, but as they drive off, a tire bursts on the car.
Whilst the others wait in the car, Baby takes Bill to her house saying that her brother Rufus will drive out to the stranded car to pick up everyone else.
Once everybody is what they initially believe to be safe and dry inside of Baby's home, some exceedingly bizarre and not very nice things happen as the startlingly odd family begins their very off the wall Halloween celebrations.
Right from the outset, House Of 1,000 Corpses scores high on the weird scale. The friendly and helpful Capt. Spaulding wears clown makeup, with his staff helpers hide their faces under grotesque animal masks. Spaulding seems as if he's quite a nice guy (but is he?), and I really liked the way Sid Haig portrayed the first of many bizarre characters in this totally mad, freaked-out film.
The acting was OK by those who played the parts of the four teenage students, but was nothing spectacular. However, I loved Shen Moon's portrayal of Baby, a young woman who oscillates between a sickly cuteness and a cold-hearted, monstrous madness. Bill Moseley is great too as the totally off his trolley Otis, injecting a decent level of 'sinisterness' into his part, laced with what I can only call highly a disconnected beyond the end of the line insanity. Really, the whole family is as batty as a box of rocks....to such a degree that they have to be seen to be believed.
The music to House Of 1,000 Corpses is pretty much a conglomeration of all sorts....there's a little death metal, a smattering of punk, a bit of 1970s disco-style....even a touch of C&W, but the main theme is avant-garde orchestration blended with choral voices.
A lot of special effects are used in this film, but I personally felt some of them to be unnecessary. I'd have preferred to see the scenes which are shot with a mild psychedelic effect to have been omitted, as such distracted from the at times delicious insanity of the characters and the storyline.
The story of House Of 1,000 Corpses does get a little confusing here and there, because it jumps about a lot. It is also presented in a distinctly mad way and certainly is by no means a run-of-the-mill film. It seems to me (unless I've interpreted the director's intentions wrongly) as if it is a kind of spoof on late 1970s/early 1980s horror films...such as those which introduced the world to the first overtly slasher-type movies. There are some amusing moments present, together with plenty of blood, guts and gore. There is also, especially during the first part of the film, lots of heavy-duty swearing...so anybody who may be offended by the liberal use of Anglo-Saxon, may prefer to give this a miss.
I did enjoy some parts of House Of 1,000 Corpses, but found other parts a little tedious. I preferred it when the action was running high, but the jumping around at random from one set of scenes to another and back again disrupted the even flow of the storyline. However, this certainly is a very original way of telling a Halloween-flavoured horror tale, it being truly, barking mad. Despite finding the odd stretches here and there somewhat boring, the other parts made up for it in that I was continually fascinated by the completely bonkers characters and the way the film was presented, definitely being something very much out of the ordinary.
What happens is way over the top, but it is supposed to be. There is a lot of violence which results in oceans of blood, but it can't really be taken seriously as nobody would survive what some of the characters had to for as long as they managed.
House Of 1,000 Corpses definitely has a strong tongue-in-cheek flavour running right through even if such did get a bit out of hand towards the end, and there are some little amusing touches which are sardonic....I did raise a smile when Grampa Hugo gave Otis the finger! It was the reason why he did it, and in such a matter of fact way, that touched on my humour bone.
I'm not sorry I watched House Of 1,000 Corpses, but I don't think I'll go back for second helpings. It is all far too racy for me, also being one of these films that perhaps is only appreciated at its best when striking while the iron is hot....that being on first viewing. It certainly is different though, with a strong and deliciously loopy set of characters. I did get the feeling here and there that perhaps the director was, whether by design or by accident, emulating David Lynch's style, but not quite hitting the spot. However, I am given to understand that this was Rob Zombie's first major movie, so maybe in time (as David Lynch did because everyone has to start somewhere), he will gradually develop a polished style that is all his own. The foundations are well and truly there in House Of 1,000 Corpses, but just need touching up and 'earthing' a little.
This is a very difficult film for me to be accurate with my star rating, because although it held my attention and I did enjoy large swathes of it, I do feel that perhaps the elements of zany-ness were too far overplayed, which killed off some of both the horror and the humour - thus, I feel that three stars is a fair award.
At the time of writing, House Of 1,000 Corpses can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: only two copies currently available, @ £15.95 & £16.55
Used: from £7.37 to £90.00 (!!)
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
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~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
"House of 1000 Corpses" is a 2003 film that was written and directed by Rob Zombie. This was his directorial debut, but he did go on to take the helm on "Halloween" (2007), "The Devil's Rejects" (2005) and "The Haunted World of El Superbeasto" (2009).
Warning: Spoilers will likely be given during this review.
The film was 88 minutes in length and starred Sid Haig ("Spider Baby" (1968), "Brotherhood of Blood" (2007) and "Kill Bill Vol. 2" (2004)) as Captain Spaulding, Bill Moseley ("The Texas chainsaw Massacre 2" (1986), "The Blob" (1988) and "Pink Cadillac" (1989)) as Otis B. Driftwood, and Karen Black ("Airport 1975" (1974), "Family Plot" (1976) and "Easy Rider" (1969)).
The plot for the film reads as follows: Two teenage couples traveling across the backwoods of Texas searching for urban legends of murder end up as prisoners of a bizarre and sadistic backwater family of serial killers.
Is there nothing Rob Zombie can't do? As well as being the front man of heavy metal band White Zombie before disbanding in 1998, he's also a successful solo artist, actor, and a very talented cartoonist. When I first heard he was to direct this film, I knew it would be something I'd be interested in. I have a passion for old splatter horror films, and I was pretty certain that after watching "Beavis and Butt-Head Do America" (Rob drew the hallucination scene) that what we would get with "House of 1000 Corpses" was something completely different. If you're a fan of the Marx Brothers, you'll recognise most of the character names as they're taken from films made by the quintet. Is it any good? Let's find out!
The film starts out with Captain Spaulding advertising his business with this dialogue which I like a lot:
"Howdy Folks! You like blood? Violence? Freaks of nature? Well then, come on down to Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters and Madmen. See the Alligator Boy, ride my famous Murder Ride. Most of all, don't forget to take home some of my tasty fried chicken. It just tastes so damn good!"
The first song we hear is Rob Zombie himself with "House of 1000 Corpses", taken from his 2001 album, "The Sinister Urge". The track sets the scene nicely for what's in store and it's some of the best music Rob has done. From the offset, it's clear that Rob Zombie has a vivid imagination, as there are plenty of colourful scenes that almost resemble a comic book. That could also be down to his love for art and illustration and I think it adds a neat touch to the violence, blood and gore. You can imagine Rob sitting there writing this and drawing what he sees in his head. The set designers and special effects people must be applauded for being able to bring it to life. There is another wonderful scene near the end where there's an underground passage which is lined with skeletons and skulls. I thought that was a brilliant piece of artwork and it makes me feel part of the film because of its reality. The film is supposedly set on Halloween in the 1970s, which is also around the time Michael Myers first started tearing up Haddonfield, Illinois in the "Halloween" film franchise. One of the most poignant moments of the film comes when the group are of teenagers are taken on the Murder Ride, and we see footage of Ed Gein, Albert Fish and the fictional Dr. Satan. The kids don't really know what's in store for them but they find out soon enough when further down the road, a very clichéd running out of gas scenario ensues and they're taken back to the Firefly house by Baby, who just happened to be out hitchhiking at the time.
I'm not going to give the game away because I think the film will be able to speak more than I can, and I'm sure it's more entertaining than me waffling on anyway, but needless to say much murder and mayhem ensues when the foursome gets to the house and there are some pretty gruesome scenes which are clearly not meant for the squeamish. Having said that, there are also some comedic moments, like Captain Spaulding's t-shirts. We first see him in one that says "If I wanted to listen to an asshole I'd fart" and he has another that says "Pigs is beautiful". As a side note and something which I found amusing was when he's being questioned in his store by two cops wearing that shirt and you can hear him snorting like a pig. Whether that's intentional or not, I don't know.
The characters of the film are very diverse and that's down to the fantastic imagination of Rob Zombie. Captain Spaulding is my favourite of the bunch and wears clown make-up. He is freaky-looking and the sort of guy you can imagine coming across at a back road place out in the middle of nowhere. The fact is, though, that he's funnier than a real clown and it portrayed brilliantly by Sid Haig. Spaulding quite clearly doesn't care about many things but loves John Wayne and even has a tattoo of the Duke on his arm. He runs a gas station that has a serial killer museum and haunted ride attached to it.
Sheri Moon Zombie is stunning as Baby Firefly, a gorgeous young woman who is quite clearly insane, though cold and calculated. She sleeps with the bodies of her victims and doesn't seem to care how she kills, just as long as it's brutal and painful. There is a scene where she mimes the Marilyn Monroe song "I Wanna be Loved by You" in the house. It's done in such a way that you begin to wonder just what you're watching, but it does have purpose.
Otis B. Driftwood is brutally violent. He's a sadist, necrophiliac and rapist, and we've only just begun to start talking about him. He likes to wear costumes of the skin of his victims, just like serial killer Ed Gein, and the fictional killer from "The Silence of the Lambs", Buffalo Bill. What I like the most about Otis is that he has a knack for being funny, even though he's probably not trying to be. His taste for violence knows no bounds and he experiments on his victims, eventually turning them into attractions for Captain Spaulding's museum.
In summary, while most horror films have gone in the way of the paranormal, "House of 1000 Corpses" sticks true to tradition of the 1970s boom of true horror. What you'll see in here is a bit of "Friday the 13th", some "Halloween" and a touch of "Evil Dead", and that's always a good thing. Rob Zombie brings in some fresh murderous horror to stand tall in the 21st century with a little cheesiness and comedy thrown in for good measure. It's a very good directorial debut and it's a film I come back to now and then when I tire of watching horror films that really aren't horror any more. I'm sure you will like it if you want to see 70s horror in the 00s.
The critics quite clearly didn't agree with me, or didn't understand what Rob Zombie was doing here... or maybe I just have a warped sense of what's good and what's not!
Variety: "A cobwebbed, mummified horror entry that makes obvious, cartoonishly grotesque demands for attention."
San Jose Mercury News: "Parts have been cannibalized from better shockers and, worse, the stitches holding them together are so obvious they glow in the dark."
Boston Globe: "I'm not sure Zombie really wants to scare us at all. Turn our stomachs; maybe, scratch our heads, sure. But scares are not really on the Zombie menu."
Los Angeles Times: "The endless gore and violence make the experience torturous -- and not just for the victims in the movie."
Hollywood Reporter: "The end results are almost strangely devoid of thrills, shocks or horror, other than the sight of not one but two former Oscar nominees (Black and Michael J. Pollard) reduced to such a pitiable career state."
My rating: 9/10
I love horror movies and yesterday when my boyfriend came round and we decided to watch a film together he suggested we watch House of 1000 Corpses. I had never seen it before but after he told me a bit about it I thought it sounded quite good so we went and got the DVD and some Halloween sweets and settled down to watch it.
When it started it seemed quite old fashioned and like it was set a few decades ago, which I was quite surprised by because when I had read the back of the case it had said that the film was only made in 2003. The film is written and directed by Rob Zombie, who is also a rock star, and the film is American.
The film is very reminiscent of 1970s horror films such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Psycho. Anyone who likes stories and films about serial killers will love this film as it is full of these characters. I don't want to give too much away about the storyline to anyone who hasn't seen this before but the plot is basically about this group of teenage friends, two guys and two girls, and they are all quite nerdy, especially the girls who are dead moody. They are driving through America and they come across this museum which is all about serial killers. Then they drive on a bit further and their car breaks down, they end up meeting this pretty girl who leads them into her home but it turns out she is a psycho and all her family are serial killers. Also there is a madman doctor living with them and I won't say any more except that all the characters were really strong and I felt they all played their parts really well and they were all very interesting.
Anyone who knows anything about serial killers, this reminded me of Ed Gein a lot with some of the stuff that the doctor did, I won't say what or it will spoil the story line. Also it is really sick so I won't mention it on here incase any one with a really weak stomach or any children come across this.
I really enjoyed this film and it isn't scary in terms of making you jump, because there wasn't really that many moments which I felt were tense or which raised my heart beat. But there were plenty of gory bits which made us shudder and this film has some really bad bits in it that make you think, oh my god that's horrible! I didn't recognise any of the stars and when I read the cast line I didn't know any of their names either.
I would definitely recommend this film but definitely not to anyone with a weak stomach or anyone who is under 18. Some parts are really horrible and it is very gory. However I did like this film a lot and I definitely think it's a good one to watch around Halloween time. I loved the characters and I also thought the costumes were cool. The way its filmed is also quite interesting to watch and I like how it has a 1970s feel to it. Next I'm going to watch House of 1000 Corpses 2 and I'm excited to watch it as I've heard its even better than this one.
To watch this film you must have a slightly deranged sense of humour to really appreciate it,if you haven't probably best to stay well clear.
Luckily I am slightly deranged and i found this to be one of the greatest horror films i have seen.
All the evil characters in this film are scripted and acted out fantasticly,and now have a cult horror status because of the film.
Zombie somehow works it so you start to have a liking for the sadistic family i think that is because of the irritating victims they encounter and the togetherness they share as a family.
Sheri moon is fantastic playing the role of baby she is gorgeous blonde girl who likes to tease the boys but she isn't to keen on the girls though as we find out when she chases one through the field and stabs her over and over.
Sid haig plays Captain spalding who has some great witty comments, novelty t-shirts and obsession with his tasty fried chicken are a touch of genius by Rob Zombie.
The story of the film of the film isn't much to write home about[ like most horror films]' its more about the blood and guts and general psychopathicness of the evil family.
And lets not forget the music in this film' Rob Zombie fits the songs perfectly to scenes,and dark spooky sound effects are top drawer.
To simplify to story 4 young teenagers break down at an old house with just fields for miles and end up being guests to most sadistic family you could dream up,where they end up being the victims of a terrible massacre.
If you like texas chainsaw massacre you will love this, the idea of this film isn't original but Zombie's attetion to detail makes it unique.
This isn't for your every day movie watcher, its depravity goes to the extreme but if your like me and there's something not quite right in your head you should love this.
What a fantastic movie. I gotta say that for Rob Zombies movie directing debut I was amazed. I knew that he directed his own music videos and when i heard he was doing a movie i just had to see it, even though i heard it was a flop in the states and im glad i did. i was on the edge of my seat the whole time and found it was never a dull moment. not only was it gory in places but it also plays with your mind too. it also gives you quite a few laughs especially baby and captain spaulding, those two were hillarious. rob zombie kind of shows you just how scary real people can be as the only characters that werent supposed to be like ordinary people were tiny and doctor satan. everyone else were just like the people next door until you found out they were a family of psychopaths. i would definitely reccommend this movie to horror fans and i have done so on many occasions and none of them have been disappointed
Its 1977, and four American teenagers are travelling across America in search of weird stuff. When they realise that their car is running low on gas, they stop off at a petrol station to fuel up, which also turns out to be a macabre theme park, run by a local freak named Captain Spalding. Gleefully enjoying the side show of murder and mutilation, the four teenagers are particularly enthralled by the tale of a local psychopath aptly named Dr Satan. Legend has it that when he was finally caught, Dr Satan was hanged from a tree not far from the petrol station and, in spite some of their instincts for trouble, they set out to see if they can find the tree for themselves.
They havent travelled far when they spot a beautiful girl at the side of the road, hitching a lift. The stranger tells them that she knows exactly where to find the Satan tree and they set off into the night with their new guide. However, it isnt long before disaster strikes and the car is stalled by a flat tyre. The young girl tells them that she lives within walking distance and that her brother can probably help them out, so three of the teenagers stay with the car and one of them (Bill) walks off to the house with the girl, whose name seems to be Baby. When they arrive at the house, Bill soon starts to feel uneasy. There is a disturbing collection of childrens dolls pinned to the wall in various states of mutilation and there is something not quite right about Babys mother. When he is relieved to see his friends arrive at the house, he has no idea that the night is about to turn into the worst nightmare they could possibly imagine. It would seem that the legend of Dr Satan isnt just a story after all
House of 1000 Corpses is the writing / directing debut of Rob Zombie, who is otherwise a big luminary in the world of heavy metal music (apparently.) You wont be surprised to learn, therefore, that House of 1000 Corpses plays rather like a Marilyn Manson music video, as the viewer is bombarded with bizarre imagery, grungy music and action sequences that shift between ultra slow motion and multiple ultra-fast shots stitched together. Its something of an assault on the senses, although masterfully done and it does raise the film above your standard horror fare. There are many visual highlights in this film, and Zombie quickly grasps how to play with the audience by playing with the camera. The arrival of the police suggests that a rescue may be in sight, but Zombie slo-mo scenes drenched in dread and awful anticipation soon put paid to any notion that anyone is going to wake up from this particular nightmare. House of 1000 Corpses makes grim viewing indeed.
Its also a clear homage to the horror films of the 1970s, when hapless teenagers would be herded into nightmare scenarios, where evil, inbred families preyed upon their isolation. The similarities / tributes to Tobe Hoopers Texas Chainsaw Massacre are everywhere. The tone of the film is almost entirely the same with the twisted, mocking family of freaks and weirdos relishing every vicious moment. Even the dolly cemetery seems to offer the same twisted premonition of evil that the bone lounge intimated in Texas Chainsaw. This isnt stalk and slash this is stalk, mock and mutilate and once things get going there is virtually no respite for anyone.
Zombies film isnt an entirely fluid piece of film making, however, and I got the feeling that his brain was so filled with ideas that when he finally got the chance to put them on camera, the download was too fast and too chaotic. Somewhere in this film you will find missing cheerleaders, deformed children, attempted robberies, Satanic rituals, bizarre attempts to create semi-human freaks for a museum of the macabre and more besides. If it all sounds a bit furious, then thats probably because it is and very often I wanted Zombie to slow down and limit himself to less than 456 ideas in the one film. There are a host of weird and worrying characters and after a while, I started to lose the plot of who was who with who and where.
Lets be clear about one thing though. House of 1000 Corpses is a nasty film. With a title like that, why would you be surprised? People are stabbed. Viciously. Scalps are removed with blunt razors. And thats just for starters. Weak stomachs and wobbly knees should stay well away from this film. Incidentally, though, the film highlights for me were never the gory bits. Theres a great sequence outside the house when the teenagers first start to leave and theres also a nicely sinister twist towards the end when two of the teenagers are lowered into a mud-filled grave. One thing Zombie is NOT short of, is imagination.
Unwittingly or otherwise, Zombie has created a new horror icon in the shape of Captain Spalding whose insane drawl and love of circus make-up make him eerie, imposing and dangerous. He also gets some of the best lines and love him or hate him, the guy is cool. The Firefly family are a fairly mixed bag who will either have you laughing or loathing, but then I guess thats the whole idea. Momma Firefly is very difficult to take seriously, if only because Karen Black has more recently gone on to be known as Joeys agent in the spin-off from Friends. Her ability to frighten is therefore somewhat limited and she has been dropped from the sequel. Baby Firefly works better because she is disturbingly disturbed. The long blonde hair and pretty eyes betray nothing of the psychopath behind. Need an example? When one of the teenagers cannot answer a simple question she cuts his scalp off with a cut throat razor. Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley) seems to be the leader and chief nasty of the pack, but he was always a bit too pantomime for me. His long white hair seemed too theatrical and I could never really decide what he was about. He gets some better scenes later on in the film but Im afraid Baby and Captain Spalding do rather steal the limelight. Tiny Firefly is a more complicated creature, horribly deformed in a horrific house fire, he mutely stumbles around the place, but just seems to do what hes told. I was never quite sure whether he really wanted to be a part of things but with nowhere else to go, was just forced to stay with the fruit loop family from hell.
House of 1000 Corpses is a startling and memorable movie debut from Rob Zombie and promises great things. It is neither the most coherent nor competent example of film making that you will ever see, but it certainly fits the bill. Nasty, shocking and exciting it offers an appropriate introduction into the lives of the Firefly family. It wont be giving too much away if I warn / advise you that they are coming back soon in the sequel, The Devils Rejects. You have been warned.
House of 1,000 Corpses takes place in 1977 and as soon as it starts you can tell it doesn't take itself too seriously and isn't afraid to be violent and bloody. Sid Haig does a wonderful job playing a creepy clown named Captain Spaulding who runs a service stop in the middle of nowhere featuring, "Gasoline n Chicken" along with a Murder Ride. The story is four kids are driving home for Halloween and stop to get gasoline at this service station. The two males go inside the service station and notice a lot of odd sideshow exhibits inside. The two men ask Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig's character) questions, stating that they're interested in all sorts of odd things along the lines of urban legends and whatnot. Captain Spaulding tells them the local legend of Doctor Satan, a doctor who experimented on mental patients and had the mental patients revolt and kill him. The two men are interested in checking the place out and after some pleading with Captain Spaulding they receive directions to doctor satan's grave. On the way to doctor satan's grave, old horror movie tricks come into play - a hitchhiker is picked up, the car has trouble, and the group takes refuge in a house full of questionable folk while their car has repairs made. The scenes inside the house are nice, there's plenty of eye candy. The characters are lots of fun, Bill Moseley's character even spouts off a manson-like speech in front of a a few kidnapped cheerleaders. Baby (Sheri Moon) is a trip, she's a nice looking, young, curly haired blonde who has sudden outbursts of craziness. Some found her character annoying, I can see why though at times I found her hilarious. The film isn't exactly totally original, though I never recall House of 1,000 Corpes being referred to as totally original, mainly an homage to older horror films and that's pretty much what the film is. This film features sudden pieces of originality, lots of
work was put into the details of the service station, the house, and even the short scene featuring "Red Hot Pussy Liquors". Those locations were very colorful and stay with you after the film is over. The last 10-15 minutes of this film was really weak, it doesn't seem like the same film, it doesn't fit. I wonder if this was the original ending or not, I doubt it was. Still, even with the crappy last 10-15 minutes this film is worth a look. There aren't many horror films made like this anymore, at least not released theatrically. My only suggestion is that you don't view this movie expecting something totally original, new, and mind blowing. House of 1,000 Corpses is simply a tribute to older horror films, especially Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There isn't much gore featured in this film (Probably edited out) however there is plenty of violence.
The often delayed Horror film by Rock artist Rob Zombie was finally released in early April of this year. It has been billed as the goriest, insanely violent Horror film that anyone will ever see. Those are strong words considering that many directors? cuts exist and "Dead Alive" is still available for purchase. Two motion picture studios dropped this film from release due to its blood and gore which did put some faith in me that it might very well be as disturbing as I was hoping. Lions Gate picked up the film in late 2002 and Zombie immediately began editing it as necessary. It was said that the movie would have been given an NC-17 if at least fifteen to twenty minutes wasn't taken off of the final print. Rob slipped away with a measly R rating and eventually released the movie in theatres close to the second quarter of 2003. Hype can either make or break a product and rarely does it ever turn out as good as one may think. I'll spare you any long speeches and say quite bluntly that no, "House Of 1,000 Corpses" isn't as good as the hype would have you believe. Of course if you take into account what Zombie was trying to accomplish with this film you find yourself giving it more than the credit it deserves. Don't look for "Hamlet" here people; this is call back to the days of shameless '70s Horror films that were created on the budget it took to craft paper airplanes. That means you can expect a lot of insanity and little to no plot whatsoever. I can understand how stuck up film critics would immediately dismiss "House Of 1,000 Corpses" as garbage based on it's plot alone. The lack of character development and "direction" would also be a big issue. But if these critics would put down they're precious award winners for a second they would understand what Zombie's first motion picture is trying to accomplish. Two couples are traveling the back roads of America, attempti
ng to write a book based on roadside attractions. They stop at a place named "Captain Spaulding's," a museum much like a freak show. It's all billed as true and Jerry (Chris Hardwick), one of the four, eats it up like candy. During the tour of the museum and the eventual "Murder Ride" which follows that includes biographies of sorts of assorted madmen and serial killers, as well as one about a local legend that is named Doctor Satan. Jerry asks the clown-faced Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) for a map to the location of where Doctor Satan was buried (but of course was found missing). Spaulding does as he's asked and then the terror begins. They attempt to pick up a hitchhiker (Sheri Moon) and take her home, but their tire is shot out by her older brother, Rufus (Robert Allen Mukes), unbeknownst to them. They eventually are forced to enter her house due to what they believe is car trouble and they soon find out what hides inside of the house. If it sounds a lot like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" then you're one step closer to figuring out what Zombie is trying to accomplish with this film. The plot is rehashed and unneeded but hey, when did a plot ever come into play in '70s Horror? Don't expect to watch this movie and see something conventional. Throw what you thought you knew about this genre out of the window. Steve Miner, step back. Rosenthall, have a seat. What you will witness is not your normal fair and Zombie makes sure to capitalize on this. His constant use of grainy stock footage which details the inhabitants of the house and delivers their "background checks" so to speak works well. He draws you in to every frame that he films the movie with by using both subtle attention getters and that of a feel of insanity. The stock footage shows brief instances of horrific occurrences that the family of the house take part it. Interspersed between shots of Mother Firefly's (
Karen Black) daughter Baby (the aforementioned Sherri Moon) licking dead skeletons and rubbing their hands across her nude body are that of images of torture and rape. It's done in a fashion that the viewer doesn't expect, therefore making it all the much more effective. I'm sure many won't appreciate what Rob has done with this film, but he only has a small audience in mind. The shameless feel of the movie is that of a slowly creeping insanity. Along with the grainy, "Blair Witch" shakiness of the camera, and the utter disgusting nature of it, he also seems to enjoy utilizing off-beat, negative shots. They will revert from normality to abnormal shots of negative images along the lines of those found in copied prints from camera shots. It draws you into the film and places you firmly into this horrific situation. The insanity that the victims feel is put on to the viewer in a fashion that bends reality in a manner of speaking. It confuses you and disturbs you deeply, which was Zombie's complete intention. He obviously lacks normality in his shots and he's nowhere near a serious director. He couples the atmosphere with attention getting, unique shots that both shock and pull you deeper into what's taking place. If you're looking for something a bit more grounded, go watch "Halloween" again. Very few times does he stick to trademark editing techniques and directorial intricacies. To match wits with Zombie's shameless '70s style directing, the actors hired ham it up as much as possible. If you've ever sat back and said "how can any actor be that unconvincing" or anything similar, apparently Rob has too. No '70s Horror film would be complete without unabashedly bad performances and absurdly awful dialogue. Of course it can either be looked at in the form of an inside joke or that of something to take seriously. It's been said many times that "House Of 1,000 Corp
ses&q uot; is both a spoof and a tribute to Horror movies of all sub-genre's. No tribute/spoof could be classified as that without pointing out makes them either extremely bad or unbelievably watchable. Fortunately, Rob hired many talented, yet unknown actors to bring back the feels of careless movie directors and convincing death screams. The four friends who eventually become the victims of the film play the clichéd role to a "T." It's laughable at how normal they seem or how Rob is mocking those who try to craft "hip" dialogue. Some of it can come off as unintentionally funny in an intentional sense which take the over-the-top feel and brings it more into the movie. You have to be an idiot if you even remotely try to take "House Of 1,000 Corpses" seriously. The attempts at being "regular people" are made dull by uninteresting dialogue and dull line readings. If you misunderstand what is trying to be accomplished here, you'll walk away from the television. If you're one of the few who understands you'll marvel at just how much you make fun of it Horror films someone has decided to make a mockery out of. But in order to pay homage to '70s Horror movies you also need to include elements that can be classified as those of gratitude towards the genre. This can be found in Bill Moseley's role as Otis, the "leader" of the family so to speak. If anyone keeps up with the Horror genre, his name will be recognizable from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" as the actor who portrayed Chop Top. His performance is dead-on and I honestly felt that he was insane. The other inhabitants of the house fare just as well, sometimes to a disturbing nature. If you can completely transform who you are and trick the audience into believing you're just as crazy as portrayed, you have quite a bit of talent. I had no trouble thinking that torturers and tortures were certifiably insan
e. An d above all else, many times admittedly creeped me out. Much like the film itself the parody/tribute aspect is in full effect here. It's a mixed bag in technical terms but looking at in the way I've described it many times, "House Of 1,000 Corpses" is simply a trip back into time before "hip" slasher films took over the Horror genre. The films was said to have some of the most grisly scenes of violence and torture to ever be recorded on film. In the final print of the movie it's easily noticeable that it was cut severely to avoid an NC-17 rating. A lot has been left on the cutting room floor, but that doesn't mean there isn't enough here to make you sick. Close-up shots of a man being cut by a razor blade, a scalping, a mans arm being cut off, three people are shot, images of bloody, mutilated bodies, a skinned man who has his skin used as a costume for one of the members of the family, and much more. It might not be as gory as once intended but many of the ideas themselves will disturb you. The film itself was designed to disturb the viewer and it definitely succeeded in that regard. Once the unique camera angles and various ways of shooting the scenes are accompanied by the gruesome scenes of torture, it has a lasting effect that you won't soon forget. "House Of 1,000 Corpses," being the film that it is, doesn't intend to scare the viewer. In that regard it doesn't and simply stays as a parody/tribute that works well. Of course the lack of promised gore and the fact that it could have been so much more hurt the overall rating. If you're looking for a less kosher Horror film and something that will disturb you to the effect that "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" did, then by all means give "House Of 1,000 Corpses" a chance. But if you're in the mood for a terrifying film of this genre that contains a more original plot, rent "Candyman"
; for the night. [Rated R for strong sadistic violence/gore, sexuality and language.]
A regular complaint among horror film fans, myself included, is that they don't make 'em like they used to. Well, it turns out they do. Or at least that Rob Zombie does. Previously part of the metal band White Zombie, and responsible for the amazing hallucinogenic sequence in the Beavis and Butthead movie, this is, I believe, Mr Zombie's first full-length movie. And what a movie it is. Set somewhere in the rural Deep South, the film's plot is pretty simple, and not really all that important. There's a gas station run by Captain Spaulding, a bald old guy with a wispy beard and clown make-up. The gas station is full of serial killer memorabilia, stuffed freaks, that kind of thing, and also features a ghost train ride full of serial killer exhibits, including tableaux of Albert Fish, Ed Gein and a local killer known as Dr Satan. Four middle class kids from a nearby town arrive at the gas station to refuel, two guys and their girlfriends. The guys are hugely impressed by the tacky memorabilia and the ride, and Spaulding gives them directions to the tree where Dr Satan was lynched. Inevitably they get lost, and their car breaks down. They end up in a freaky house owned by a deeply, deeply weird Texas-Chainsaw style redneck family. When the kids try to leave they are violently prevented from doing so, and then the nasty fun really begins. There are other elements, such as the fact that five cheerleaders have recently gone missing, and the anxious father of one of the girls goes looking for her, but these are really just diversions. The film focuses in on the horrifying fate of the four and their attempts to escape. The plot is largely incidental, the film being more a series of weirdo set-pieces than a story. It's a rollercoaster ride of a movie, or maybe a ghost train, with plot being unimportant - it could almost be seen as abandoning narrative altogether, rather like, say, Eraserhead or Texas Chainsaw Massacre do.
This is a very, very referential film. Horror fanboys like myself will have fun trying to spot all the references. The film takes place on Halloween, for one thing, and is set in 1977, the year of The Hills Have Eyes. The main plot, with hapless town dwellers falling foul of deranged redneck psychopaths is familiar from any number of places, although Texas Chainsaw and Hills Have Eyes are probably the most relevant. The normal strangers intruding on a weird, weird family, stranded overnight, is originally found in The Old Dark House, one of the greatest of the Universal horrors. (One of the first images in House of 1000 Corpses is Karloff opening the door in the Old Dark House, and the film is later heard playing on TV.) The magnificent Spiderbaby is another film with similar plot, and the family dynamic here owes a lot to that film. Then there's the awkward meal scene, a mainstay of, well, all the films I've mentioned above. And the film's atmosphere is redolent of Tod Brownings' Freaks, and the work of directors like James Whale in the 30s or Tobe Hooper in the 70s. It manages to cover a lot of ground, influence wise, and the mix it provides is brilliantly entertaining. There are moments and images that explicitly pay homage to specific movies. Freaks is alluded to in a moment so fantastically grotesque that I wouldn't want to spoil it for you. The anxious parent waiting at home for his missing daughter is probably taken from Last House on the Left. The deformed face of Tiny, one of the family, resembles the make-up of Lionel Atwill in Mystery of the Wax Museum. The stuffed animal heads on the walls are from Psycho. There's a barn full of dead women that I swear was influenced by an extremely obscure slasher movie called Three on a Meathook. And a threat to make someone eat their own intestines must be a reference to Anthropophagous the Beast. The name of the film is reminiscent of 2000 Maniacs, yet another film in which evil
murderous rednecks butcher city folk. (Sorry if I'm boring you all to tears with my stupid geeky horror film rubbish, here.) The cast, too, is filled with familiar faces. The excellent Sid Haig, who plays Spaulding, was the freaky bald kid in Spiderbaby. Billy Moseley, playing Otis, the leader of the deranged murderous rednecks, is in Texas Chainsaw 2 (he's the one with the metal plate in his head). (He bears a quite striking resemblance to Mark Heap, who was in Jam and Big Train.) Karen Black, the matriarch of the evil family, has been in more exploitation films than you can shake a stick at. One of the cops searching for the missing teenagers is Tom Towles, who played Otis in Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer. And so on. The film doesn't go for suspense, nor is it particularly horrifying or unsettling. It's very successfully played for laughs. The performances from the family of weirdoes are so completely over the top that there's no way that you could ever take them seriously. Everyone clearly had a great deal of fun making the film, and it really shows on screen. Otis is an impressively demonic villain, but we're never expected to be scared of him, he's too entertaining. The other members of the family are similar. There's Baby, the weird, sexy girl who mimes to Marilyn Monroe and is seen rolling around naked with decomposing corpses. There's the mother, hideously flirting with everyone who crosses her path. Best of all there's Granpa, who shouts idiotic insults at an episode of The Munsters on TV and keeps flipping his middle finger at everyone. I don't usually have much patience with horror films that are played for laughs, although most of the best horror films have a lot of humour in them. The nearest comparison I can find for this film is The League of Gentlemen, specifically the Papa Lazarou stuff. House of 1000 Corpses has the same vibe, but with more of an American carny feel to it,
its reference points obviously based on the other side of the Atlantic. One crucial point is that you never have any sympathy for the four kids in the car, the victims. The girls are totally wet and uninteresting, and the guys are so annoying that you actually want bad things to happen to them. I for one was very happy when they did. They are extremely irritating geeks, and one of my friends came up with a theory that they represent directors like Tarantino or Kevin Smith, the kinds of idiots who take inspiration from classic old genre movies and then suck the life out of them. Here the classic genre movies are getting their revenge. It's a great theory. Probably bollocks, but a great theory. Whatever, this is the first American horror film I've seen for a while that didn't seem completely anaemic and pointless. There are some extremely striking images and moments - the design is beautifully done. It's shot in a very rock-video kind of way, reminding me of the terrible Natural Born Killers in the way it's edited, with scenes from old black and white horror movies spliced in here and there, and sudden switches in film stock. Scenes such as a girl wearing a rabbit costume being chased through a makeshift graveyard and then brutally stabbed to death are excellent. There's a tremendous bit where a man is forced to kneel with a gun held to his head for what feels like hours before the trigger is finally pulled - perhaps the only bit of bona fide suspense in the entire film. So although the film is full of references and homages to earlier films it does have its moments of originality. It's quite fragmented, but is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. Any disadvantages? A couple, I guess. The last ten minutes or so seems to belong to a different film, with a lone girl being pursued through subterranean tunnels by creatures that look like they belong in a computer game. And there are bits that I suspect people
will find quite offensive. Dead girls with the words 'Trick or Treat' carved on their naked breasts were, I thought, pushing it a bit. (I was surprised to learn that the film will be uncut when released in this country - the BBFC is generally very squeamish about dead women showing off their dirtypillows). And the framed picture of the Moors Murderers on Spaulding's wall will probably raise a few eyebrows over here - there's bad taste, and then there's shockingly bad taste, and this film lapses into the latter a few times. I'm not sure I've really done this film justice. I loved it. I think it's divided opinion quite a bit, with people either loving or hating it (just like Blair Witch Project did). People complained about lack of suspense and horror, and lack of coherent plot. None of which are really valid criticisms if you ask me, because they're not things that the film is aiming for. I guess it will all depend on how receptive you are to this kind of thing. I loved it - the most visually inventive and entertaining American horror film I've seen for ages.
It's sick! It's twisted! It's House of 1,000 Corpses, and it's more fun than a wholesome bowl of "Agatha Crispies"! Dropped by two studios (Universal and MGM) and doomed to obscurity until Lions Gate Films gave it a limited theatrical release, Rob Zombie's gonzo horror flick is a blood-spattered throwback to the gore-fests of the 70s, lending new meaning to the term "box-office gross". Most critics misunderstood this unbridled exercise in graphic style and violence, but for devoted horror buffs it's a refreshing rebuttal to the comparatively "polite" frights of the post-Scream era. While paying homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left, Motel Hell and other gory classics, Zombie's ramshackle plot (two young couples are terrorized by an inbred family of homicidal maniacs) lacks a crucial sense of dread, but his pastiche of vivid colours, grainy fetish-films and photo-negative imagery is guaranteed to hold your attention. A bona-fide cult item, this House is definitely worth a visit... if you dare. --Jeff Shannon