The UnPopular Opinion: House of 1000 Corpses
Hollywood is full of natural progressions. People in front of the camera naturally gravitate behind the camera for better or worse. Sometimes, musicians will make the leap from the world of stage and recording to the world of movies, for better or worse. In some cases, music video directors will take that step from short form film-making to theatrical endeavors, again for better or worse. Only sometimes do you get that one-two punch of someone going from the world of music to the world of film-making, but directly behind the scenes. Rob Zombie made that leap in 2003 with HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, a movie bad that it may actually be better considered for our Awfully Good column rather than this one. But, seeing as the majority of fans seem to have found something special in the horror debut, I needed to take a moment and set the record straight.
HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES is bad. I mean not just bad but reprehensibly so. The movie is so god awful that I cringe at the thought of it the way that one would when taking a deep swig of expired milk. Zombie is one of those people who figured making a movie would be a slam dunk only to find out that it takes a lot more than a library of references to classic films to make yours any good. For all the hate that some have for Quentin Tarantino or even Guillermo Del Toro, those two are legitimate directors who have taken their love of cinema, especially B-movies, and turned out high quality homages to their past favorites. Rob Zombie has done nothing for movies but put a name on the poster that would sell albums as well as movie tickets.
Before I go into HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, I will say that since making his debut, Zombie has stepped up his game and then down again. THE DEVILS REJECTS was a much better exercise in the grindhouse genre than HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES if only because the stylistic touches were not the only thing on screen. THE DEVILS REJECTS at least had a comprehensible plot to follow. After those two movies, Zombie turned to HALLOWEEN where he summarily took a massive dump on John Carpenters legacy. Instead of making his own HALLOWEEN, he took the original film and remade it with his soundtrack and a lot more gore and nudity. The original HALLOWEEN worked because it was a slow burn, not a heavy metal orgy. Since his two HALLOWEEN films, Zombie made the insufferable LORDS OF SALEM which returns him to the realm of nonsense he explored with his debut film.
By this point, many of you are probably either agreeing with me and wondering why this is the UnPopular Opinion while others are fuming mad that I would speak ill of Mr. Zombie. For those individuals, I ask this: what did Rob Zombie bring to the world of horror that was not done numerous times better by less talented filmmakers? The movie feels like a music video retread of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE without adding much to it. I would honestly rather watch any of the CHAINSAW sequels a second or even third time than sit through HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES again.
Dont even give me that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery because that is bullshit when you cannot edit yourself. The problem with writer/directors is that they dont know when to say when. See M. Night Shyamalan or George Lucas as prime examples of that. At least Quentin Tarantino evolves his films from the writing to filming stages. Sure, he may be overlong and could edit things a bit, but at no point do his movies feel like half-completed tales. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES is so bloated with dropped subplots and characters like Dr. Satan that you are just left confused and thinking that you missed something.
I will give Rob Zombie one pat on the back, though. He sure as hell did a nice job casting the movie. He has a nice nerd reference in seeing Chris Hardwick and Rainn Wilson even though both were not yet the popular fixtures they are today. The inclusion of genre stalwarts Sid Haig and Bill Moseley gives the movie some good credibility as a horror film but neither has much to do with their roles aside from look menacing and insane. Both knocked their parts out of the park in THE DEVILS REJECTS while here they just feel wasted. Michael J. Pollard and Karen Black appear as well and gave me the feeling that maybe this movie would be a special ode to midnight movies and horror gone by but nothing sensible comes of it.
But, for f*cks sake, why in the hell does he include Sheri Moon Zombie in everything he does. Mrs. Zombie is lucky as hell she has a career single handedly provided by her husband because if it wasnt for him she would be doing porn by this point. Even then I think her acting would be considered lacking. She is okay to look at but she delivers her lines in a stilted and amateurish manner that I almost wish I was watching porn. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES would have been better if it has been directed by Eli Roth because it feels like it was made by Uwe Boll.
If Rob Zombie makes another movie, I hope it is a feature version of his GRINDHOUSE trailer for WEREWOLF WOMEN OF THE S.S. Coming from the world of music videos, Zombie works better in a short form. That fake trailer is loaded with more honest homage and fun that anything he has ever directed. In fact, that is exactly what HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES is: a good music video. If you watch the movie in five minute increments, it is likely tolerable and may even make sense. But, the final product feels like a 5 minute music video repeated 18 times.
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