House of 1000 Corpses Reviews
Set in the 70s and based on the exploitation films of the same time, the story follows four travelling writers Bill Hudley (Rainn Wilson), Stucky (Michael J. Pollard), Denise and Mary (Erin Daniels and Jennifer Jostyn) who are rescued by a family of sadistic serial killers whilst stuck in the rain; initially unknowing of their saviours evil intents, the group soon become subjected to a series of increasingly horrific torture.
Although the premise is the same as numerous other films' 'The House of 1000 corpses' sets itself apart with it's uncontrollable style and blunt force. Despite being told through the eyes of it's heroes, the real stars of the story are its villains 'The Firefly family', with Otis B. Driftwood (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) in particular being the main points of attraction. It is apparent throughout the extent of the film that Zombie is in love with his deranged creations, giving them ample opportunities to spout their morally astray ideologies in nightmarish and often heavily sexualised montages made up of gothic imagery and visions of death ("Whatever you need to do, you do it. There is no wrong. If someone needs to be killed, you kill 'em. That's the way").
Such use of narrative fragmentation would appear un-immersive if not for the film's sporadic, maniacal and unpredictable editing, which often uses effects such as split screen and archive style footage to unrelentingly draw audience's into its dark world. Where the film falters however is with its ambition, causing the unpredictable to become predictable, an example of this is the way in which Zombie frequently fills viewers with hope for their protagonists only to take it away, and, although effective the first two or so times, this gimmick quickly becomes overused and is outwardly tiresome by the end of the film. As well as this HO1C fails where many other modern horrors do, in its climax, which is overlong and descends into an unbridled sense of absurdity and un-believability.
Verdict: A master class in technical and tonal horror, House of 1000 Corpses is let down by the pitfalls of most modern horror.
A bunch of young people are traveling through Texas in order to write a book on offbeat roadside attractions. After meeting Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) the owner of a gas station with an attached Horror/Murder museum, their car breaks down and they are forced to seek refuge in the house of a truly demented family of hicks...
Though most obviously inspired by the Hillbilly Horror classic "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" (1974), "House of 1000 Corpses" pays tribute to various Horror classics and is thereby extremely innovative. The film is an utterly demented mix of Hillbilly Mass Murder Horror, Mad Science and various other elements, which is as darkly funny as it is extremely creepy and sometimes genuinely scary. Personally, I was a big fan of Sid Haig even before I first saw this film a few years ago, for his appearance in countless 70s Exploitation classics, such as "Coffy", "Spider Baby" and others. One might well say that "House of 1000 Corpses" and the even greater 2005 sequel "The Devil's Rejects" mark the highlights of Haig's career, as he plays a leading role, and his Captain Spaulding is arguably the most notable Horror character of the decade. Some other highly memorable roles are that of Bill Moseley as the utterly demented Otis, and director Rob Zombie's wife Sheri Moon Zombie as the incredibly sexy yet incredibly wicked daughter of the murderous Firefly family.
"House of 1000 Corpses" is gory, brutal and demented unlike most contemporary Horror films and has a fantastic sense of pitch black humor. Apart from an innovative and wonderfully demented story, uniquely eccentric characters, countless Horror references, gore and morbidity, this film features some of the greatest Horror moments of the last 20 years. Overall, this film, as well as the even superior "Devil's Rejects" is most highly recommended to any fan of Horror and Exploitation cinema.
Let me say this right off that bat. If you're idea of a horror film is I know What You Did Last Summer and you consider Scream and The Exorcist to be the most shocking films ever made, this is not a film for you. If you havent seen I Spit on Your Grave, Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead or Last House on the Left, this is not a film for you. If you've never listened to "Living Dead Girl" or "Superbeast" this is not a film for you.
Now having said that, this is a film for me. It is a film for true horror fans, the kind that stay up and watch Dawn of the Dead and The Beyond, who know who Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento and George Romero are. This is a film that was meant to be seen by people like this and will only be enjoyed by people like this. This is not exactly mainstream stuff here. Only a small percentage of people enjoy this stuff, and for those people, this film is a true rivival of classic exploitive horror.
Rob Zombie has created a homage to 1970's exploitation/horror films, and he has been extremly successful in achieving that goal. The film borrows largely from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left, with his own little bits of original demential thrown in and an assortment of other horror film references. The film tells the tale of four teenagers who are terrorized and tortured by a bizarre southern family living in a remote farmhouse in 1977. The film uses all sorts of camera tricks--negative colouring, split-screens and seemingly random inserts of grainy snuff-like footage of various S&M and gore images; the off-the-wall effect is similar to what Oliver Stone did in Natural Born Killers. The film is not about plot, or about characters. Its purpose is to shock and disturb, to serve no other function than to entertain through exploitation and disgusting and bizarre violence. Just as you think the limits of weirdness are approaching, Zombie takes the film a step farther, and before long you surrender yourself to the mercy of the film and just accept things for what they are. The film has the feeling of an out of control freight train being piloted by a madman and the climax of the film is truly bizarre. The reviewers who wrote the film off as overly-sadistic with little in the ways of character development, plot or suspence have come to see a different kind of film, perhaps more at home with titles like The Sixth Sense or Silence of the Lambs. The have no busineness debasing a great film like this.
Rob Zombie has created a film that is both a homage and derivative at the same time; most things in the film have been done before, in one shape or another, and the level of gore is a fraction of what was intended, due to its shameful R-rating. To see the inevitable Unrated Directors Cut on video is going to be a true horror experience.
But this film is something has hasnt been seen in decades and it has been made with the utmost care that only a true horror fan could provide. It is a film made by horror fans for horror fans, a true labor of love by Mr. Zombie, despite some flaws. If you arent sitting the theater going "hey, theres Bill Mosely from TCM 2!" or "hey, that shot is a homage to the cover of Evil Dead!" or "hey, he wears peoples skin like Leatherface!" then you probably arent meant to be seeing this film. But for those who are, the film is a true gem and a rarity; it is a kind of film that hasnt been seen on the screens in over twenty years and probably wont be for another twenty years. Get out there and enjoy this rare experience while you still can.
An instant cult-hit.
For true horror fans only. Everyone else just wont get it.
It's easy to see where Rob Zombie was coming from on this movie. He loves old grindhouse horror flicks, which this movie draws from, particularly The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This movie is all about how crazy, sick, absurd, and disgusting it can get.
The whole thing really plays like a creepy amusement park ride. It is a whirlwind of colors, strange and random scenes, wacky characters, and off the wall set design.
It follows some innocents heading into the back country for whatever reason, and they come into trouble in the form of one terribly fucked up family.
While the sequel to this, The Devil's Rejects is done in a more gritty and realistic manner, this film is all about sticking to its crazy stylized look, and while 'Rejects' is a much better film, this is still a sick but entertaining horror house movie.
Otis: Shut your mouth!
Otis: I said, shut your fucking mouth!
Otis: Listen, you Malibu middle class Barbie piece of shit, I'm tryin' to work here. Work? You ever work? Yeah, I'll bet you have. Scoopin' ice cream to your shit-heel friends on summer break. Well I ain't talkin' about no goddamn white socks with Mickey Mouse on one side and Donald Duck on the other. I ain't readin' no funny books, mama. Our bodies come and go but this blood... is forever.