*I write these articles with SPOILERS.
Finishing up my late Halloween month set of movies, I decided to revisit House of 1000 Corpses (the lack of a comma in 1000 has always bothered me…). After thinking about Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall and whether or not I actually like his films, it made me think of Rob Zombie. I’m in the same boat with his films (and with 3 from Hell out, I wanted to revisit the first film), though I can definitively say I am not a fan of a lot of his work. I was, however, very excited about him in the beginning.
Do I Actually Like This Movie? (SPOILER: Yes, I do.)
I’ve been a fan of Rob Zombie since the White Zombie days. I’m mainly a fan of his music, but his videos were always a bonus since he was so clearly a fan of all things cinema. It was not surprising when he made the move into directing, especially since he had been attached to projects over the years (I seem to remember reading about a planned Crow reboot directed by Zombie that never happened). So when House of 1000 Corpses finally came out, I was pretty amped up for it.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this movie the first time around. But I do remember liking the characters more than the actual story. Captain Spaulding was an obvious favorite with his “Fried Chicken and Gas” store, but he wasn’t in the movie all that much. I found Baby more annoying than anything, though I think that’s the point of her character. Otis was a standout, as well, mostly thanks to Bill Mosely doing a zany Charles Manson impression.
The general vibe of 1970s horror was nice, as well. But looking back, I can’t help but see this movie as Zombie figuring out what he wanted to do. It’s more of a pratice run than a fully realized film. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, I like it more than ever after this viewing. But there was a time when I looked at this as a lesser effort. I blame The Devil’s Rejects for that.
I like House of 1000 Corpses, but I love The Devil’s Rejects. Once I saw that film, I felt that Zombie had figured things out. He had a more cohesive story, and he realized the best thing he could was get the three main characters from the first film out of the house and let them go wild.
It’s not fair, but I started to judge House based on its follow-up. Looking back at it as its own movie, I find a lot more to enjoy. And while I like Rejects more, I still think House is better than most of Zombie’s other films (his Halloween films, as I remember them years later, felt too brutal and not nearly fun enough). On its own, House of 1000 Corpses is a weird, fun, disgusting, disturbing tribute to ‘70s horror.
This Movie Is a Lot More Messed Up than I Remember.
While Zombie’s first two films are borderline comedies, they are still based in horror. This is more the case for House than Rejects (which I consider to be more of an Easy Rider movie with serial killers).
The family is messed up, of course, as they are Zombie’s version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family. But it’s what the family, mainly Otis, does that makes this film disturbing. Otis as Manson obviously makes this film pretty fucking dark, especially with the stuff with the missing cheerleaders early on.
Otis’s later creation of Fish Boy out of Rainn Wilson’s corpse is an image that has stuck with me over the years. And his donning of the skin suit made out of the old dude from Saving Private Ryan is showstopping in its grotesqueness. I mean, he comes out wearing this skin suit and tricks the dead guy’s daughter into thinking he’s her dad. She only realizes it’s only his skin when Otis starts tongue-kissing her through her father’s dead lips. This movie is fucked up.
Perhaps that’s why I prefer Rejects. The main characters are still terrible and do awful things, but nothing as bad as this. You feel just a bit better rooting for them in that film. Otis becomes a more likable Manson in that film.
Okay, I’m not too thrilled with some of the sentences I’ve created in writing about this movie, so I’m just going to stop here.
Why Do I Own This?
I think I bought this without seeing the movie. I don’t think this came out theatrically near me, and I really wanted to see it when it came out on video, so I think I just bought it. I’m glad I did. It’s an experience worth having every couple of years.
The interactive menus are actually a little funny, and they're definitely an artifact of a different era in home video releases. My favorite part of the menu is Captain Spaulding reading a porno magazine while he waits for you to pick something.
"I don't like chicken, and I hate clowns!" Okay, I get the clowns, but who the fuck hates chicken?
My least favorite part, and the most amateurish part of Zombie's filmmaking, are the random shots of "creepy" stuff in between each scene. Just go from one scene to the next.
It took way too long for Hardwick's character to get hit with a bat.
It's weird to see Walton Goggins play a half-assed normal role.
The cop-killing sequence does show promise for Zombie's filmmaking abilities. The long wait for the final killshot is effective at creating the mood that evil is happening, and it's quiet all around. No one will be saved.
But them again, it seems at times that Zombie only makes movies as an excuse to show his wife's ass.
"The End?" Adding that question mark is the cheesiest part of this movie by far.