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.
As if plot were important in these movies anyways, this one's pretty generic. A group of four youngsters heading home for the holidays (Halloween!?) stop at a cheap haunted house run by the cast of a strange cross between Deliverance and a David Lynch movie, hear about a local horror legend cleverly named Dr. Satan, and decide to check out the tree from whence he hung himself. The bad news: They pick up a hitchhiker in a rainstorm and get brought to a house that was born when the set from Deliverance slept with the set of Lost Highway.
From there on in, it's pretty much hick after hick, cheap scary image after cheap scary image, lots of southern accents and psychotic murders.
It's not that I've got a beef with horror movies, but House of 1000 Corpses is a waste of time on all levels. Foremost, horror movies are supposed to be scary, and while House of 1000 Corpses might scare some 13-year-old who snuck in to cop a feel on little Suzy, it's only because it's the first R-rated movie he's ever seen. On other levels horror movies are supposed to be funny, and the jokes in House of 1000 Corpses are drier than anything to come out of Napa Valley in the last half century. And with a title like House of 1000 Corpses, your movie is supposed to be especially bloody. Someone get me a damn clicker because I counted about ten dead, tops.
In the end the only reasons to see House of 1000 Corpses are its exquisite lighting and set design (normally the high point of anything Rob Zombie does is cool editing tricks and camera angles, but here they just seemed ill-placed without the throbbing of "Dragula" in the background). Even its ill-placed hick-humor doesn't really work (for really funny hick humor check out what is obviously the inspiration for the movie, The Residents' video game Bad Day on the Midway). The bottom line is that House of 1000 Corpses just doesn't work. It's too highbrow to be a good cheap horror movie, it's too lowbrow to be satire, and it's too boring to bear the value of the ticket.
Two of the thousand.
Run time: 89 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th April 2003
Box Office USA: $12.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $16.8M
Distributed by: Lions Gate Films Inc.
Production compaines: Spectacle Entertainment Group, Universal Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 65
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
Director: Rob Zombie
Producer: Andy Gould
Screenwriter: Rob Zombie
Starring: Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding, Bill Moseley as Otis B. Driftwood, Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby Firefly, Karen Black as Mother Firefly, Erin Daniels as Denise Willis, Chris Hardwick as Jerry Goldsmith, Rainn Wilson as Bill Hudley, Jennifer Jostyn as Mary Knowles, Tom Towles as Lieutenant George Wydell, Walton Goggins as Deputy Steve Naish, Matthew McGrory as Tiny Firefly, Robert Allen Mukes as Rufus 'RJ' Firefly Jr., Dennis Fimple as Grandpa Hugo Firefly, Jake McKinnon as Rufus 'Earl' Firefly Sr., Harrison Young as Don Willis, Irwin Keyes as Ravelli, Michael J. Pollard as Stucky, Chad Bannon as Killer Karl, William Bassett as Sheriff Frank Huston, David Reynolds as Richard 'Little Dick' Wick