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House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
| Directed by:
The setting is 1977 on a dark and stormy Halloween night.
After some car “troubles”, two young couples wind up at some backwoods
house where they meet, and are entertained by, a sweet family of murderous
psychotics. They get taken for quite an “amusing” ride, well…amusing
for us that is…FUCK YEAH!
"Whatever you need to do, you do it. There is no wrong.
If somebody needs
to be killed,
you kill him, that’s the way."
Well, the wait is finally over for me. I
recently caught a R-rated version of this film and
finally got to see horror rocker Rob Zombie’s directorial genre debut.
For me, it was worth the three-year wait.
plot: kids get stranded and killed by psycho family and yes, it purposely
echoes "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" to the point of making the upcoming remake
feel even more trivial. On this end, Zombie’s stamp made it quite a
unique and visceral trip. Although sporting an infectious dark sense of
humor (loved the Manson girl magazine), gnarly set designs and crazy ass
costumes, the high card here was, without a doubt, Zombie’s excessive die-hard “horror fan” approach to it all. The horror imagery was constant
throughout with scarecrows, scary masks, doll heads, skulls and much more
put out in high, relentless doses till the end.
The early amusement ride in serial killer heaven was definitely the highlight for me in that respect. THANK YOU!
Rob’s presence behind the camera also
took me on a loop-the-loop and always kept me wanting more (like a junkie with no
money torturing his dealer with a sharp blade and a handful of salt).
Zombie served up a delicious RIP-MTV kind of jive with psychotic shots,
brilliant use of colors (red, green, blue), split screens, kinetic
editing, pleasurable indulgent shots (all about the money shot with the
cop…wow), weird ass filters…you name it, it was in this graveyard! Zombie
also went hogwild with flash cuts of hot nude chicks, clever grainy reels
of the killers revealing info about themselves to the camera intercut
between the action (loved that shite) and he even went as far as
communicating his love for the classics via a horror TV show that would
often comment on the goings-on in the world of the film. GENIUS! Then,
there was the use of music throughout that never failed to engage me. If it wasn’t the “Mack Truck” score or hard
tunes roadkilling my carcass over and over, it was the Tarantino-like use
of soft tunes set behind violent scenarios. YEAHHHHH! Basically,
the film assaulted my every sense and I thanked it for it.
The cherry on top of this bloody ice cream
treat were the loveable, endearing and “non-annoying” villains who
were, after all, the heroes in this madhouse. Rob assembled quite a
horror-friendly cast here and he let them run wild for our viewing pleasure. My
favs were “is he a villain?” Sid Haig ("Spiderbaby", "Coffy") who easily
stole every scene that he was in as the extravagant Captain Spalding, Bill
Moseley (Otis) who was so unpredictable that he gave me the willies and
newcomer Sheri Moon (she’s in Zombie’s "Living Dead Girl" video and is
now his wife) who charmed the boxer briefs out of me for more reasons than
one. If it wasn’t her hot “Laura Palmer”-like looks wooing me, or
her many moments of nudity, it was her cackling psycho laugh that put the
possessed "Evil Dead" chicks to shame.
The gore was surprisingly low in
this “abattoir” (mucho trim-trim will do that to a film), but that
wasn’t really what hindered it. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" didn’t
the graphic red stuff to whoop that bootie, so why would this baby? This
film’s pitfalls were mostly on a script level. First, the good guys
suffered from being less interesting than the villains with the two
“good” girls in particular being nearly interchangeable. They had no
distinctive personalities and looked too much alike. That toned down the
fear factor, since I was rooting for the loonies the whole way. The flick
also lost its focus during its middle section. I was expecting extensive
torture of the leads and I did get some in random doses, but it was never
emphasized upon long enough to affect me full blast. The lack of conflict
between the heroes and the baddies also made the middle section a more
passive watch and lastly, characters good and evil would disappear for
long periods of times, which often led me to ask myself who I was supposed to
through this run. Actually, what’s the story again?
And there’s the catch-22
on this sicker-than-sick beeyatch, my friends. Even though the story kind
of evaporated during the mid-section, the visuals and the extreme
sadistic oddness of it all kept me in the coffin where I belonged. The
film double-downed on that with a last block that I can only describe as
“Alice in Horror Land”. The “bizarro” threshold was crossed to
become some seriously, mind-tweaking messed up jamboree. Countless freaks,
an axe-wielding monster, cannibalism, and a devilish surgeon doing what he
does best. Zombie went on a rampage with the horror fun for the finale
and I lapped it up like a trained "Cujo" earning a biscuit. In the end, I had
a freakin' macabre riot with "House of a 1000 Corpses" even with its
shortcomings. I expect mainstream audiences to walk out on this one
scratching their heads in bewilderment. As for me, I want to celebrate Halloween with this family. ADOPT ME
Killers: Bill Moseley (Otis) was one intense mofo and he gave one of
his finest and scariest performances here. I wouldn’t fuck with that guy! The
same could be said about genre veteran Karen Black (Mother Firefly) who
was in fine form and cut loose
as the horn dog mother. Sid Haig (Captain Spalding) was also the bomb as the
motor mouth, cussing clown. Great show! Sheri Moon (Baby) owned as the
vivacious psycho beeyatch from hell that we all want to date. The
Teens: Chris Hardwick (Jerry) was the more appealing “good guy” as the duder with a sense of humor. Erin Daniels (Denise) and Jennifer Jostyn (Mary) did what they had to do, but their parts were too thin to leave an impression. Who was who again? Rainn Wilson (Bill) had a good delivery as the Sci Fi geek, but again, his role was too slim to fully stick on me. Tag to that,
cameos by genre favorites Tom Towles (Henry) and Michael J. Pollard (I’m not a fan, but he worked here).
It shows that this one got the machete in the editing room,
but we still get some quick “don’t blink” gore like a bullet in
the head, a dry axing, a razor cut, a scalping, nasty surgery, lots of red
and more! I’d slaughter to see the uncut version.
You’ll catch a lot of breasts in this house with all kinds
of quick shots of naked chicks being tied down or tortured. Thankfully,
Sheri Moon was also one of the donors in the T&A department, showing us a
lot of her stuff.
Zombie’s eye was what kept me feeling like a small fish on
a big hook. Nutty shots, trippy lighting, speed-like editing, powerful use
of slow motion, whacked out filters and so many horror images tossed at ya
in quick cuts that you’ll need 13 viewings to fully grasp what you’re
seeing. Wrap all that in a polished yet thick morbid horror feel and you
get an undeniably damn outstanding directing job.
The soundtrack was AMAZING! We get "Now I Want to Sniff
Some Glue" by the Ramones, a sick use of "Brick House 2003"
by Lionel “washout” Richie and of course, "House of 1000
Corpses" by Rob Zombie, which is a tune that I can’t stop listening
to nowadays for some
reason. The score by Scott Humphrey and Zombie was also very groovy in its
aggressivity. Loved it!
With "House of 1000 Corpses", Rob Zombie wanted to put out an
"old school" 70’s-like harsh offering for today’s generation and
in my opinion, succeeded 90% of the time. When he failed, the heavy aesthetics and
the addictive horror vibe oozing out of every single freakin' frame made
up for it. How’s that for a safety net? Yes, the “heroes” should’ve
been explored more, the middle section would’ve benefited from more
direction/conflict, but the INSANE ride I was taken on made it all way
worthwhile in the end. Blood, guts, hot dames, sadism, LSD-inspired images, sets and
costumes wilder that those “Girls Gone Wild” videos, a badass score and
a kickass soundtrack…I’m SOLD! This is a horror movie made by a fan
for the fans and I can just imagine how greater this bitter pill would’ve
been if all the cutting it went through over the years hadn’t been done.
Having said that, thanks Rob, not only did I need this slamming dose of
genre juice in my veins, but it also inspired me on an artistic level and
is now my new “choice” Halloween Party horror movie. LONG LIVE THE
of 1000 Corpses" history: In
2000, Universal Studios picked up the film and dropped it in 2001 judging
it to be too graphic. In 2002, MGM picked it up and Zombie began editing.
MGM dropped the film after Zombie made this comment on MTV:
"Apparently they have no morals over there. They're happy for some
blood." In late 2002, Lions Gate Films picked it up and is now
preparing to launch it on screens in limited release on April 11, 2003.
heard that the DVD will be uncut. It better be.
was once set to direct the third chapter of "The Crow" series,
working from his own screenplay, but Miramax Films eventually pulled out.
out the HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES WALLPAPERS here
this movie on The Arrow's HORROR BOARD
back to the Arrow in the Head Homestead...
© 2003 John
Fallon All Rights Reserved JoBlo.com