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House of 1000 Corpses
Genre Horror
Year: 2003
House of 1000 Corpses is Rob Zombie’s filmic contribution to the horror genre. Zombie, a founding member of the 90s band White Zombie, went on to start a solo career. His trash/industrial sound became his trademark music and can be heard on the soundtrack to House of 1000 Corpses. It’s his debut film, and isn’t as bad as you’d imagine.

We’re specifically talking about the horror genre, just to get things straight. It’s not meant to be taken too seriously, but is meant to be scary and freaky at times. It’s what one would call a blend of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Natural Born Killers and Deliverance. It reminded me of Deliverance because we’re dealing with red necks, and a bunch of happy-go-lucky travellers that are in for the ride of their lives. Natural Born Killers came to mind, because of the similar media-type cuts and insertions in the editing. While a healthy dose of Texas Chainsaw Massacre was apparent in the run-down house, freak show family and general second skin references.

Let’s be frank, this is not for grandma and certainly isn’t something for the kids. It’s horror, gore nightmare stuff, and all the painted, demonic characters have their own breed of evil. There’s no Satan worship, or spiritual dilemmas … it’s just old-fashioned serial killer, movie monster horror, but cranked up to make the experience disturbing. I’m not squeamish, but I thought I’d watch it with a friend - you know, just in case. Okay, so maybe I’m more squirmish than squeamish, but let’s not get sidetracked by my fear of the boogeyman. Yes, House of 1000 Corpses… It’s a Rob Zombie production and he actually does have some talent. The man wrote, directed and composed music for the film, and not because it was running on a low budget.

It’s a horror every horror fan has seen, and enjoyed. It’s not about having a fantastic storyline, because all of them are the same, right? Four unsuspecting innocents (usually 2 guys and 2 girls), arrive at a distressed wayward house to find some sort of evil. Well, it gets a tick for that. Okay, you deserve more of a plot. Four young travellers are documenting road side stops on their trip without a destination. They stop for gas at Spaulding’s Horror Museum, where they also serve fried chicken. Spaulding, a store owner dressed as a crazy clown, takes them on a Murder Tour. He introduces them to the folklore legend of Dr. Satan, a man who probably descended from Frankenstein.

The four are uneasy, and when their car wheel is shot after picking up a hitchhiker, they are forced to find refuge in the closest and freakiest home in the area. To make matters worse, it’s Halloween and just how many costumes do these people possess. Zombie produces a horror film that pokes fun at the 70s horror boom, and reaches gory, but not blood-fest levels of depravity. He must also be commended for his debut in the way the film builds up to the conclusion. Each scene scarier and more uncomfortable than the previous one. He even makes space for some dark humour, that is disturbing, but even more so when you feel like you should be joking with the characters. Each of the characters is horrific in their own sense, and they are anything but zombies.

It’s spiced up with full-blown colour, and jam-packed with some really disturbing scenes. Rob Zombie isn’t simply hacking in the dark. There is a definite method in the madness. It includes Sid Haig (Kill Bill: Vol 2, Jackie Brown), Sheri Moon (Grindhouse, Halloween), Rainn Wilson (The Office, Six Feet Under) and Bill Moseley in his career defining role as Otis B. Driftwood. The cast were relatively fresh or fancy-free in 2000 when the film was made, and Lion’s Gate only decided to release House of 1000 Corpses in 2003, after sitting on it for 3 years!

It’s not as good as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it does hold some weight in the horror genre. Rob Zombie can be commended on his debut, and the film stands its ground in the way it throws everything into the pot and comes out with something that resembles a film, music video and zombie gore horror. As mentioned, if you don’t like horror, or any of the films referenced in this review, then it’d be best if you gave this a skip.

The bottom line: Gruesome.

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