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Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » House of 1000 Corpses » User review

Grindhouse horror a-go.

  • Dec 16, 2011
*1/2 out of ****

So musician Rob Zombie (whose work includes collaborations with the band White Zombie as well as some solo work later in his career) has made a movie. It's called "House of 1000 Corpses". If you know a single thing about Zombie's musical style(s) and the many things that he talked about whenever he let loose his distinctive, often strangely beautiful voice; then you need not know a whole lot more about his debut film. Zombie - an avid fan of horror movies - starts his career out with a mighty bang; and, more or less, I guess it does at least half of what it's supposed to.

"House of 1000 Corpses" is a loud, crude, profane, senseless, witless gore-fest; the kind that only Zombie could make in this way for his first go-round with both the genre and the art. His aim is to try and turn the genre on its head; he's created an original work that is supposed to stand out amongst the endless line of remakes and rehashes. Yet, there's this feeling of normality that I can't quite shake; it's almost as if Zombie has failed - quite miserably - to deliver on the many promises that are pre-determined when one says they are going to make an "original horror movie". Maybe it's just me, but something just doesn't feel...right. Oh wait, that's not me; that's the film and it's foul, foul stench.

To quote one of the film's many characters - if you love blood, violence, and freaks of nature; then this movie is most definitely for you. It's basically another old knock-off of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" type story; in which we have a few young men and women (one of which is played by the talented Rainn Wilson, who here seems a little less special) who are out on the road sight-seeing one night. They happen upon the kind of flamboyant roadside attraction that they have been searching for all along; they stop there for a little while, and the place, if you must know, is owned by a morbidly charming character named Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig).

He advertises to the group his "Murder Ride", which is his main attraction among others. This "murder ride" is a celebration of violent imagery and the local legends of infamous murderers; one in particular becomes an object of obsession for one of the kids (Chris Hardwick), and that very killer goes by the name of Captain Spaulding. There's a whole intriguing back-story attached to him; although as of now, he only exists in myth. But that doesn't stop the kids from trying to hunt him down and prove his existence. Who wouldn't be interested, right? Oh yes; intelligent, educated people. But the people in this movie aren't really any of the two.

Their search takes them to a literal madhouse; which rests somewhere not far from the woods. This ends up being the titular house; given that it is inhabited by a psychotic family of cannibalistic hillbillies, and possibly even worse. The members of this dysfunctional family include: Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie, the director's wife), Mother Firefly (Karen Black), Tiny (Matthew McGrory), and Grandpa Hugo (Dennis Fimple).

That's all I'm going to say as of now. Let me just say that these kids have a wild and reckless (potentially sleepless) night ahead of them; in the tradition of those "classic" horror movies in which stupid teenagers get killed off by intimidating sadists who take great pleasure in their grotesque and unsettling craft. Zombie just can't get enough; he exercises a great amount of creative freedom here and lets his imagination (and visual craftsmanship) run wild. In terms of how the film looks, he gets just about everything right; but when it boils down to plot and characters, Zombie is far more ambitious. He wants satire, he wants insanity, he wants scares; I suspect he even wants good ol' Grindhouse-esque entertainment. While I admire what he's got going here, the filmmaker fails to provide a good time or anything worth talking about, really. The vision feels more nonsensical than focused; and I just can't say I had a whole lot of a fun watching it. In fact, I actually found it quite, well, annoying.

Here's my problem: "House of 1000 Corpses" had a lot of potential to be a good time all-together, yet Zombie's inexperience allows it to end up feeling like nothing short of one of his stylish music videos. It's a very visual movie, and I can respect that, but that isn't all that Zombie wanted it to be and he fails when it comes to delivering anything more. If you are a fan of the director's music, check this one out; there are some outlandish scenes and characters (Captain Spaulding, in particular, provides some of the film's sole entertaining moments) that might just impress you to the point where you kind of enjoy yourself. I really wanted to like this movie, but to tell you the truth; I found it derivative and unfunny; silly and maddening. If that is your idea of entertainment; then have at it. But most people won't be sympathetic enough to exercise the gift of forgiveness.

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December 17, 2011
Great review! Glad I skipped this one.
More House of 1000 Corpses reviews
review by . April 28, 2009
House of 1,000 Corpses marks the directorial debut of Thrash/Industrial Artist/Musician Rob Zombie. This film was sitting on the shelf for a couple of years before Lion's Gate released it theatrically. A homage of sorts to Zombie's favorite genre, southern fried horror. Throw in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, add a little Eaten Alive and a dash of FunHouse and you'll get the flavor of this film.     Four twenty somethings are riding along the back southern roads when they come …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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