Take your pick of horror clichés -- House is full of them. Jack and Stephanie's marriage is on the rocks after the death of their daughter and they're driving down a dirt country road. After a few wrong turns and some reckless driving, Jack has an accident and blows out the tires. Cue the rain and dropped cell phone signal as the couple make their way to a nearby house. Once they enter, they meet similar ill-fated guests Leslie and Randy, and the devil-worshiping family who lives there.
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In the year 2056, Rotti Largo (Sorvino) heads up GeneCo, which offers financing options for organ transplants (both medical and cosmetic), and has no qualms about a gory repossession if a buyer misses a payment. Scientist Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head) moonlights as one such repo man while caring for his sick daughter Shilo (Alexa Vega from the Spy Kids movies), who yearns to break free from the confines of her bedroom. Complicated backstories are illustrated, literally, via half-animated comics-style panels.
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OK, fair enough, so what do we have here? Well, Thr3e is a kind of riff on your Saw movies and Seven, giving us an unseen psychopath who's stalking our hapless hero Kevin (Marc Blucas), who wants nothing more than to complete his thesis and get out of seminary school. Problem is, he's got something iffy in his past, and the psycho stalker is trying to force Kevin to "confess" his sins... mainly by killing off Kevin's friends and spraying graffiti on his car before blowing it up. Each time he's in touch, he delivers a mysterious set of instructions and a limited time in which to complete them, or else something explodes.
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The Devil's Rejects diverges from its predecessor beginning with its opening frames, in which the depiction of the Firefly residence - no longer a remote, forest-shrouded funhouse of horrors but, rather, a dilapidated structure situated in a stretch of open land - speaks to the film's rejection of atmospheric claustrophobia in favor of wide-open anarchy. A fascination with rampant disorder certainly fuels the tour de force intro sequence, a bullet-strewn siege on the Firefly home by Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe) and an army of police officers heightened by Zombie's sly use of freeze frames, Sergio Leone-esque close-ups, and The Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider." Exhibiting a directorial maturity devoid of his former MTV-ish gimmickry (no hyper-edited montages with varying film stocks or bludgeoning industrial heavy metal here), the director orchestrates the chaotic events with feverish abandon, his shaky handheld camera set-ups and scraggly, sun-bleached cinematography (courtesy of Phil Parmet) placing us directly inside the carnage. By the time murderous siblings Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon) escape their now overrun home to seek shelter in the rotting, blindingly white desert, Zombie has demonstrated a newfound adeptness at lacing nasty action with a breakneck thrust and vicious wit.
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The auteur debut of gothic icon Rob Zombie (think Puff Daddy in metal and with talent), I wasn't really hoping for much with House of 1000 Corpses -- schlock horror was anticipated and would have even been enjoyed -- but this is just ridiculous. House of 1000 Corpses is perhaps the most un-scary "scary movie" I've ever seen. It's not funny. It's not even really that interesting to look at.
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American Thighs was released on this day in 1994.