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House of 1000 Corpses
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House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

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Plot Summary:
"Two lost couples find themselves stranded for the night in an old dark house where they are set upon by the family in residence that dabbles in murder, witchcraft, and cannibalism which are just a few of the 1,000+ secrets buried in the field behind their house."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 24 July 2005 My Rating: out of 5


Rocker Rob Zombie is an apparent horror film buff and this long-delayed film (and censored, even the version I saw was apparently cut) marks his inauspicious but admirable debut.

Youngsters doing a tour of roadside attractions stop by Captain Spalding’s (Haig) place for some crappy horror-themed fun, and fried chicken (in a brief cameo at the beginning, Michael J. Pollard turns up as a buddy of Spalding’s- so, don’t say you weren’t warned!). Spalding, a surly and grotesque man (in clown makeup) nonetheless is obliging and tells the travellers of Dr. Satan, an infamously unscrupulous local physician and even draws them a map to his hanging tree.

Somehow they end up terrorised by a family of nutbars; slutty-yet-childlike Moon, blowsy matriarch Black, gabby Moseley, Grandpa Fimple, and others. Towles (from “Day of the Dead”, “Fortress”, and “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”) plays a cop in an underdeveloped role.

Probably not as bad as you’ve heard, but once one gets past all the MTV-style shots and editing, the constant film references and overall in-your-face style of this 2003 Rob Zombie tribute to 70s and 80s grindhouse horror…you realise there’s very little new about it. Sure, the fact that Zombie has included reference after movie reference and packaged it like a 90 minute music clip makes it seem original, but after a while, what at first was fun, grows tiresome.

What keeps you watching (aside from the gore, which is often quite good for those who are into that kind of thing) are the assortment of freaks and geeks on display here, a B-movie fan’s delight, with even the usually horrid Black (surely one of the weirdest and worst actresses to ever earn an Oscar nomination) finally finding her niche. But even then we see that Moseley, whilst amusing, is just doing his Chop-Top shtick again, and the whole film actually plays like a mixture of the first two “Chainsaw Massacre” films and a touch of “Motel Hell”. Haig steals it in a wonderfully foul performance, even though his character isn’t entirely successfully integrated into the fabric of the film.

Admirable from a film buff’s perspective (and if it was released back in 1981, perhaps…), full of engagingly twisted characters and performances that keep it going for a while. Unfortunately, Zombie crosses the line from homage into plagiarism and the fun begins to wear off this over-edited, and noisy film after a while. Nice try, and I hear Zombie’s follow-up is pretty good.

Reviewer: Steven Davies @braindeadsteve
Location:Luton, UK
Review Date: 19 August 2004 My Rating: out of 5

Having been put on the back burner for nearly 3 years there was much hype and mystery surrounding Rob Zombies directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses. I have to admit I wasn't particularly interested in this one and wasn't hopeful of a negative opinion crushing experience. From what I had heard of the movie and from much of the promotional stuff mooching about on the web I was half expecting an over-the-top, colour filled, texas chainsaw-esque picture. And to some degree I was right.

In no way whatsoever holding back imaginative new directions in the genre Zombie takes us at great pace through an unusual tale of satanic and clearly psychotic family life. In this case it's the Firefly family.

Typical dumb kids Jerry, Bill, Mary, and Denise pull off the road to meet Captain Spaulding and take a trip through his bizarre backroom ride. The two couples are hoping to collect enough material to include in a book they're planning on putting together about offbeat roadside attractions - coincidence?, probably. The kids learn of the legend of Dr. Satan and head off to find the tree where he was hung from. Their car breaks down, or so they think, just as they pick up sexy hitchhiker, Baby. Baby takes them back to her house where the two couples meet the Firefly family, a murderous clan of bizarre people.

The film is certainly bizarre and probably unlike anything you have seen in a long time. It is filled with humour and strangeness, which makes it so appealing. The movie also uses abundant amounts of 16mm footage, old TV shows and other extra footage, which is spliced into the movie at many different moments. There is the use of split screen, slow-mo and tonnes of other samples of camera trickery. It's like the horror version of Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers.

I never expected to even enjoy House of 1000 Corpses but I did, very much so. Like I have mentioned on copious occasions previously I'm an admirer of originality, especially in this genre, which sometimes gets too bogged down in standard shocks and reworked ideas. But 1000 Corpses, in spite of maybe being a little too overcrowded with different ideas at one time, still comes off as a very inventive little movie.

The films brilliance has to be its overwhelming sense of whackyness. Indeed a lot of ideas seem to have been influenced by films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but its execution and style is refreshing. In particular, Spoiler Ahead!, Deputy Steve's execution and the lead up sequence to it. A truly terrifying scene, which drops all original sound and overplays it with a rendition of Slim Whitman's 'I Remember You'. There is a great cast, some great sets and the use of music is spot on. However, I would have to criticise the ending somewhat as I'm not sure everything that was going on following the coffin scene was clear or comprehensible.

Reviewer: Phil Davies Brown @horrorasylum
Location:Scotland, UK
Review Date: 12 October 2003 My Rating: out of 5

Finally, after 3 years (plus an extra seven days in my City), I got to see the most talked about (albeit for the wrong reasons) Horror film of recent years.

When four friends who are doing research into famous serial killers, break down during a road trip, they come across a strange family (an excellent cast comprised of Bill Moseley, Karen Black and Sheri Moon) who seem harmless enough at first but turn out to be really, really, really EVIL!!

Well without using a display of colourful language, all I can say is this is something else!!

The film took a lot of getting used to as Director Rob Zombie likes to use clips of old TV style footage in his many wide and varied works and this was no exception, as the first half hour or so was bogged down with copious amounts of split screen, snuff footage and other extracts, making it very hard to concentrate, which irritated me, as I was really enjoying the story and the main action.

Once we get into the thick of it however, Zombie settled down and sensibly opted to focus on the matters at hand.

Utterly sick and twisted, I was both amazed and sickened by the turn of events and the cinematography methods used to present them. The film has many beautifully composed shots that unsettle the viewer, as they want to look but the subject matter disgusts them.

In the end you are left exhausted, battered and beaten, but also confused by the whole affair and the unresloved situation.

The film's main strength is obviously the cast of genre veterans and Zombie's sense of gory humour which really shines through in the script. Whilst the gore is quite disturbing, I felt that there was not nearly as much as I was expecting but that may have been to do with the well reported problems the film encountered with several official bodies.

An utterely violent yet beautifully cinematic experience, Rob Zombie's debut may not live up to it's gory reputation but it is a beautifully filmed piece of cinema and for the first time in ages the audience, including myself, were laughing hysterically (thanks to Sid Haig) and jumping and screaming with fear simultaneously.

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