While old Rob does make a few ham-handed rimshots at artistic camera angles and pacing, as a film director, he sure makes one hell of a heavy metal
Shall we to the plot? We shall: A group of four teenagers traveling cross-country in the mid-1970s come across a creepy Gas Station. From there they continue their journey until they pick up a hitchhiker. They then end up in the two-story back-woods home of a family of inbred hick cannibal butchers, one of whom is large, lumbering and deformed and wears a leather mask. Soon, one at a time they're chopped up and eaten and/ or dismembered until one of the intrepid females breaks free and seeks asylum!
This is the kind of House that no one wants to live by or mistakenly stumble upon. The housing opportunities are null, there are no apartments for rent in the area and if there were apartments for rent, people wouldn't or shouldn't live there - well except for your average deformed psycho killers. Other than them, people wouldn't search Apartmentguide.com for this area. This all making it a seemingly normal set for a horror movie.
If you think I've just described the exact plot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, guess what... YOU'RE RIGHT! This is a shameless rip off of Hooper's most famous film without even the vaguest masking of this fact. The main difference between this film and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is this: House of 1000 Corpses is terrible, gratuitous in its considerable gore, devoid of any sort of atmospheric creepiness and relying completely in cheap shock value. Folks, it's worse than the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake, and even worse than that in the editing category. House of 1000 Corpses sucks ankles!
Now, let's see... Am I missing the point? Isn't writer/ director Rob Zombie trying to make a campy, silly, scary, gory, derivative Midnight Movie with all the gratuities? Probably so! And he fails here like a six-year-old taking a Graduate Student's Algebra Test! Why? It's not a particularly scary, or even interesting film, especially if you've seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! Oh sure, this movie will have its fans, and it's sure to become a Halloween Repeat time after time! The problem is, this is a Scary movie for people who don't know much about scary movies. Those weaned on the schlocky comedy of Freddy Versus Jason and have never bothered seeing anything truly atmospheric or creepy like The Hills Have Eyes are sure to love this film.
This is pretty much a mean-spirited little slasher film that identifies the Bad-Guys as protagonists and gets the laughs going by repeated tortures and depravity. Morality aside, this might have worked with a better plot and a more experienced director, however, it's a Remington Misfire here! Universal Studios refused to distribute this thing based on the preponderance of gore and violence, and there's a lot of that, however, if Graphic Gore made a movie scary, then I, Zombie would have been a good film. Look, folks this is no more gory than an 8:00 PM episode of CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation! The same-ness of the parade of gore serves to make this less shocking and ultimately boring. I've seen more riveting Infomercials. If Zombie had given us a solid hour of demonstrating different kinds of Concrete I couldn't be less interested. Oh, blood again! Wow, I'm so shocked! Please! I get more scared and grossed out by walking by the Meats department at the local VONS Supermarket!
Worst of all, while this movie stops being (intentionally) funny after the first ten minutes, the movie stops making any form of sense after the first hour. I guess Zombie figured that after an hour no one could get their Admission back, so, you know, fuck it! Here, Zombie tries to give us some bogus explanation for why this family is the way they are. Maybe it made sense to him, but to anyone else above the 6th grade level will sit there and say... "Oh, BULLSHIT!" And, once again, the whole thing is draped limply across the pilfered plot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! Shame! Oh, and the ending! The predictable ending is obvious to anyone who has seen either version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! Not fair? Okay, the predictable ending is obvious to anyone who has seen the first ten minutes of this film. When the credits slothed their way on to the screen I pretty much said, "Yep, that's what I thought too!"
The cast here seems to be such an arbitrary vehicle for the extremity that Rob Zombie swings for and misses that I hesitate to list them! However, if this film gets its wings on Home Video or midnight showings, this'll be their only source of income. Our hapless tavelers are led by Bill (Rainn Wilson), followed by Jerry [Goldsmith, word is bond] (Chris Hardwick, who played the pivotol role of "2nd Engineer" in T3) Denise (Erin Daniels) and Mary (Jennifer Jostyn).
I guess Sid Haig will do anything for exposure! His clown-faced Captain Spaulding gets top billing, and I'm sure there are jackasses out there who can name every part of his, but as far as I'm concerned he's that bartender from Kill Bill: Vol. 2! As for the Firefly family (OH COME ON!), wow, Karen Black gives her best performance since Zapped Again!; Robert Allen Mukes drives the Sheriff's rip-off car from TCM; Dennis Fimple gives us our crazy old Grandpa rip off from TCM; and poor old Matthew McGrory plays our Leatherface rip off from TCM! That doesn't even mention Bill Moseley, who, I guess is kind of the villain and Mouth Breather Walt Goggins from The Shield briefly slumming it as a sheriff's deputy (by aaron pruitt). Together these clowns work hard on pushing the boundaries of good taste with carnage and disgust, but it all amounts to an obvious formula that the sequel The Devil's Rejects is sure to follow to the letter. By the by, not that you really would want to see any of these assholes again (except Sheri Moon... nude) but a great many of these parts have been recast for the sequel. Yeah, I'd ask to be recast too!
Is there anything good about this film? That depends on who you are. If you think Horror is "Shock Value" then look no further. I can't imagine this being scary to anyone, though some with weak stomachs might be made nauseous! Zombie's wife Sheri Moon is briefly naked here, which is nice, and she has a devilish little laugh to her. Also there are some vaguely convincing creature effects, especially surrounding Doctor Satan (Walter Phelan)! That's about it, though, as the amateurish directing and insulting editing (that actually features some of old Rob's 16 MM home movies spliced in) pretty much makes this not worth the money. I saw it for free and I still wanted a refund!
This is really, quite simply, Rob Zombie at his least restrained. The last hour of this film (where not derived from better flicks) amounts to sixty minutes of watching Rob Cummings Masturbating on film. I'm huge on directorial freedom, but someone along the way should have told him NO! Rob seems to love pushing more and more schlock in the midnight movie mode into such a small space that one can't help but think of Vacuum Cleaners, Black Holes, Leeches, Vampires... all things that suck!
Piss on you, Rob! Piss... on... you! I'd tell you to stick to music, but The Sinister Urge was stuffed with more filler material than a Teddy Bear.
Judging from the Ego and in-your-face-I-dare-you-to-protest-me attitudes Rob Zombie shat onto the screen here, I'm pretty sure that a lot of this review will be taken as a compliment to him. I'm also pretty sure that he wants some bad reviews for his film, escalating it's "Cult Status"! Well, when you wish upon a star you get a DOG! That's Right! House of 1000 Corpses is a complete and total, mangy, flea-bitten, dingle-berried and malnourished DOG, not even worth its cult weight in quotability. Oh, you'll see it on Halloween at midnight at the Raleigh-Durham One-Screen Rialto or something, and someone out there is sure to say it's their favorite. Forgive me, but I like a little scary in my horror. Call me a rebel, I guess!!!
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