Rob Zombie’s first feature length film.
House of 1000 Corpses leans heavily on slasher films of the 1970s and 1980s, In fact, the inspirations for this film are very much present in nearly every scene. I remember when the film came out that a lot of people saw this as a negative aspect of Zombie’s creativity. I can understand that argument, but for me the film is still enjoyable.
I think part of the reason why this movie was not as well received is that people simply expected more from Zombie. I remember the feeling that he was going to reinvent the genre with this film. While the film is entertaining, it seems that some were disappointed in the fact that Zombie made a fairly boilerplate film. Despite the film’s competency and cruelty, it didn’t change much.
We follow four teenagers who are travelling across the country to research roadside attractions. Their reasoning might not be the best, but it does get them where they need to go. After picking up a hitchhiker and getting a flat tire, they are trapped with a family of psychotic murderers. We then watch as the kids are tortured and murdered.
Sound familiar? It probably should if you are a horror fan. The basic plot of the story doesn’t add much new. Zombie’s characters are where this film stands apart. The murderously hilarious Captain Spaulding (played by Sid Haig) opens the film with a serious “what the hell?” reaction from the audience. The dialogue is bizarre and hilarious in these moments. It is unfortunate that Captain Spaulding does not get more screen time in this one.
The other notable characters are Baby and Otis (played by Sheri Moon Zombie and Bill Moseley). How audience felt about Sheri Moon Zombie’s acting is divided. You can easily find discussion boards trashing her if you desire. She is not a professional actress, but she does play the part well. Her laugh can be a bit grating at times. Otis is the true show-stealer. His pretension and madness make him both comical and terrifying. It is weird to see someone who is scary, yet hard to take seriously. Otis is my favorite character of the story, and Moseley’s portrayal is excellent.
Great characters in a standard story. That is best way to sum up this film, in my opinion. There are moments of real talent from Zombie (like when the cops find the farm), but these moments are fleeting. The bizarre vignettes of people talking about religion or death are likewise interesting, but I wanted more. Perhaps I, too, fell victim to the notion that Zombie could deliver us the greatest film ever. It is hard to condemn a film when it cannot achieve those heights. Instead, we have a cheesy and fun slasher that will leave you mostly fulfilled. 7/10