We can all relax now. House of 1000 Corpses has been released. To the vast majority of readers, that phrase will mean nothing. However, this is a film that I had actually been anticipating since I heard that Rob Zombie’s name was attached to it. After making rounds through the studios looking for a distributor, Universal finally picked it up and has now released it. To the studios who looked this one over and threw their arms up in disgust, I feel your pain.
Rob Zombie has made it no secret that House of 1000 Corpses is heavily influenced by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the infinitely better 1970’s Tobe Hooper shockfest. We get basically the same setup here: a group of teens in search of the legendary “Dr. Satan” find themselves stranded on the backroads of a creepy country town. Lost and stranded, the group seeks refuge with a nearby family. Little do they know that this particular family is into such enjoyable activities as murder, witchcraft, and cannibalism.
Zombie really could have had something here, even though the premise is far from fresh. The main problem with House of 1000 Corpses is Zombie’s lack of any directing or writing skills. He appears to be in love with filters, bizarre camera angles, and closeups. When you throw these three together, it makes for one confusing experience. There are sections of the film where you cannot tell what is happening at all. It did occur to me, however, that Zombie may not be completely to blame. One thing that did catch my eye as I was perusing the Internet Movie Database page on this film is that the Argentinian version is 105 minutes, while this U.S. version runs a paltry 88 minutes. What was cut? My hunch is a lot of gore. While the film does have its fair share of violence, much of it is cut away from quickly.
Regardless of any editing demands by the Universal that may have taken place, there is still no way to get around how horrid the writing is on this movie. The teens are stock movie morons, but I knew that would be the case. I was looking for some innovation in terms of the demented family members, but there is little of that, either. There are a few creative lines in the film, but they simply do not lack the punch that I am sure Zombie intended. An example: “I bet you’d stick your head in the fire if I told you you could see Hell…but you’re too stupid to realize you got a demon stickin’ out your ass saying, ‘Holy Miss Moley, I got me a live one.’”
The movie is indeed a disaster area, yet I am still willing to give Rob Zombie somewhat of the benefit of the doubt. There are certainly some demented ideas here, and seeing as though it is a difficult task to scare mainstream audiences anymore, I think he gave a decent effort. If he could improve his writing and let someone else take over directing, there could really be a decent film down the line from him. Until that day comes, all we have is this, and I simply cannot recommend it. You’ve been warned.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 88 Minutes
Rating: R for strong sadistic violence/gore, sexuality, and language.
Theatrical Release: April 11, 2003
Directed by: Rob Zombie
Written by: Rob Zombie
Cast: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon, Karen Black, Chris Hardwick, Erin Daniels