Review: House of 1,000 Corpses

House of 1,000 Corpse’s troubled past to be released is much like the plot of this movie, jumbled up into a mix that would take a highly skilled scientist to untwine. First Universal came to the table and agreed to release the film, but after seeing and monstrous amount of gore the movie presented they shelved the project fearing the dreaded NC-17 rating which basically tanks your film at the box office without even releasing it.

Next MGM took to the plate, but they bailed out after seeing nearly all of their 2002 movies suck badly at making money, all highlighted by the headliner of crap, Rollerball. MGM also feared the gore and the press surrounding the movie, so they too shelved the film in favor of some more crap. Finally, House was picked up by Lion’s Gate, a group known for releasing films that are usually too risqué for a traditional studio to release, or too surrounded in hype to avoid the free press that would entail such a high profile release.

House of 1,000 Corpses is Rob Zombie’s directorial debut. For those unfamiliar with the artists, Zombie is probably best known for his work in White Zombie before going solo with a string of hit CDs in the likes of Hellbilly Deluxe and American Made Music to Strip By. Sadly, where Rob Zombie’s music comes off as inspired works of art, his first movies falls into mediocrity very, very quickly.

House seems to want to do so much in so little time, and it does all of this without a streamlined plot, or enough believable characters to make you want to even care about them. The plot shapes up as a standard horror fare. Four twentysomethings on a cross country road trip stop off at a hilarious gas station where the proprietor, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) makes money by selling gas, fried chicken, and taking the interested on a tour of serial killers. While most of the characters lack any sort of dimension, Spaulding is a shining point in the movie. The comic relief that he provides gives the movie a step up from the horror flicks of the 1970s, something Corpses is trying to pay homage to.

When the kids learn about the mystery of Doctor Satan, they set out on a trek to locate the tree where he was hanged and disappeared long ago. Since things never turn-out as planned, they experience car “trouble” and are captured by the most unusual family who celebrate Halloween Eve in the most bizarre ways. Mainly killing cheerleaders and and singing Betty Boop.

As much infused originality in this picture, it is a real shame that you never get the sense it is taking you anywhere. Between scenes you have transition effects that center around one character or are just a twisted jumble of old film clips satirized with different colors, or some of the more freakish characters dancing or murdering people in unusual ways. Every one of these transitions throws the flow of the movie out of sync to the point where you believe you are just watching short clips of a much bigger show. Even with these clips in place the movie only rolls in at 88 minutes. Take them out and your hovering at just over an hour in running time.

Still, as mentioned before, you never latch on to any of the characters, and why would you considering they are nothing more than canon fodder anyway. Yet the genuinely cool imagery and imagination give way to the lack of any plot and 2D characters. Rob Zombie has a gift for making throwbacks to the 1970s cult horror films that inspire the works of directors and writers today, but next time he might want to include something for the audience to follow, and someone for them to feel for.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!