House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
US (dir. Rob Zombie)
Cast: Bill Moseley, Chris Hardwick, Dennis Fimple, Erin Daniels, Jennifer Jostyn, Karen Black, Michael J. Pollard, Rainn Wilson, Robert Allen Mukes, Sheri Moon, Sid Haig, Tom Towles, Walt Goggins
Synopsis: Set in the 1970’s, two young couples take a misguided tour onto the back roads of America in search of a local legend known as Dr. Satan. Lost and stranded, they are set upon by a bizarre family of psychotics. Murder, cannibalism and satanic rituals are just a few of the thousand horrors that await.
Reveiw: “House of 1000 Corpses” was a long awaited, Rob Zombie-directed horror film that was sorta stuck in cinematic limbo before its eventual release. It being Zombie’s first foray into directing a full length feature film, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I really did enjoy his music videos and I was hoping that the same feel that you get from his music videos would be transferred to this movie. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed. The movie is essentially one gigantic Rob Zombie music video complete with all the essentials, including but not limited to, a loving display of redneck appreciation, Rob Zombie’s own music, and the requisite appearance of his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie. The movie itself is not perfect, and the flaws stem primarily from the poor story-telling ability of the director (sorry, Rob Zombie). The surrealistic approach to the film-making was definitely what hooked me, and it’s one of the reasons as to why this film is one of my favorites.
This movie to me is more or less a superficial treat. There are plenty of shocks and scares that are heightened by Zombie’s fantastic use of colour, grainy images, and distorted audio. It’s by no means a perfectly frightening horror movie, nor is it even a coherent film, it’s more like a psychedelic venture into horror. It tries to be one of those throwback to the 1970s type of movies, but it fails because the content is too hardcore and because the editing is so random. If you’re going to make a movie that’s a “throwback” to anything, I’d really suggest you capture the same feel as those movies and not just the costumes and set design. By the end of this movie, you basically feel as though you’ve just come out of watching a horror movie while on acid.
One of the best things about this movie is the characters Rob Zombie has created. Pretty much any member of the very colourful Firefly family (the evil family who is the primary focus of the movie) is a wonderfully, wickedly crafted character with enough personality to warrant an abundance of screen time as well as a sequel film. Baby and Mother Firefly have to be my favorites, and it’s such a shame they would eventually be reduced in terms of their appeal and general kookiness in the sequel. It’s so rare to have a horror film where you take more of a shine to the antagonists than you do to the protagonists (or in this case, the victims). I ended up not giving any care whatsoever as to what would happen to the boring and incessantly annoying young couples who would eventually fall victim to the Firefly family and join the roster of 1000 corpses. Not caring about the victims can sometimes be a bad thing, however, because if you cannot really emphasize with any of the victims/protagonists, and the antagonists merely function as morbid curiosities with little depth, you really don’t have any characters left to side with. All you are left with in this film is a mean-spirited set of characters, “villains” and “heroes” alike. “House of 1000 Corpses” is a fun movie, but it certainly is not for everyone. Seeing it once won’t be sufficient, it’s a film that merits at least one re-watch.