House of 1000 Corpses

The saga behind House of 1000 Corpses stretches a couple years and three film companies, two of which decided not to distribute the film because it was too violent. Really? The brainchild of musician Rob Zombie is violent and gory, and to a degree disturbing, but not enough to merit shelving it. Maybe these companies realized that the film is a jumbled, garish mess. As a solo artist and member of White Zombie, Zombie makes loud, pumping music coupled with cartoonish, over-the-top costumes and shows, reveling in imagery present in horror movies. Zombie is a great candidate to make a horror movie because he has the look and feel down. Now, he needs to learn how to write something longer than a song.

The one thing he did exceptionally well is the production design. Everything looks sick and grotesque. The film takes place sometimes in the seventies reminiscent of other, more classic horror films. So is Zombie trying to make a classic horror film or paying homage to them? Hard to say, but either way, most of them weren't any good, so he succeeded on that level. Again, four dumb kids are on the road, this time looking for strange Americana. Bill (Rainn Wilson, Full Frontal, America's Sweethearts), Jerry (Chris Hardwick, Jack & Diane, Art House), Mary (Jennifer Jostyn, A Perfect Little Man, Deep Impact) and Denise (Erin Daniels, One Hour Photo, Chill Factor) stop by a museum run by a sadistic looking clown (Sid Haig, Jackie Brown, Boris and Natasha), who informs then about the legend of Dr. Satan. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds. Dr. Satan is the local serial killer, and the kids go off in search of his legend.

They meet Baby (Sheri Moon), a ditsy hitchhiker who resembles a porno star, who takes them home to fix their car. Unfortunately, Baby's home is not amenable to visitors. She lives with a truly bizarre family that includes Mother Firefly (Karen Black, A Light in the Darkness, Teknolust), Otis (Bill Moseley, The Convent, Live from Baghdad), and assorted other freaks of nature. They play nice for a while, then the butchering begins. House of 1000 Corpses does not work as a film. It feels more apt as a series of disgusting images, or possibly something to play on a huge screen behind Zombie during one of his concerts. There is not enough going on to make anybody care about what is happening on screen. People need more than random killings and excessive violence to make them enjoy a film (okay, most people).

The cast consists mostly of young unknowns and horror movie mainstays from prior decades. Surprisingly, none of the multitude of young actors that populate teen movies and television are in this film. As low as they go, apparently even they have standards. Horror movie cliches abound, from corny dialogue and bad acting, to moments designed specifically to make people jump. Zombie cuts between scenes with a flurry of images, lighting tricks and loud music that do, well, not much. The worst thing to say about House of 1000 Corpses is that it is boring. There is a lot going on on-screen, but none of it amounts to much.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 28 minutes, Rated R for strong sadistic violence/gore, sexuality and language.

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