In "House of 1000 Corpses" we follow two couples who are travelling across America and documenting all the little weird and outre places that they encounter along the way. What could possibly go wrong? Lol. One night they happen across Captain Spaulding's (Sid Haig) freaky museum, and he tells them about the tree that a serial killer known as Doctor Satan was hung from. The eager boys want to go check it out, and their girlfriend's reluctantly agree to go, but, as it happens, Captain Spaulding's sent them into a hell on Earth that's populated by the most vile people imaginable. The Firefly family. But the real sadistic stars of this family seem to be Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie). What's the world coming to when you can't trust a clown anymore?
House of 1000 Corpses is Rob Zombie's writing and directorial debut, and it feels like this was a real learning experience for him. Experimental and renegade film-making all the way, the best kind. Like he just decided to fuck around with a bunch of various techniques throughout the movie and see what he could learn from it along the way. Having no actual education in film-making, I'd bet this was very much a baptism by fire for Zombie. I lost track of all the different techniques he implemented, albeit amateurishly. There were numerous split screens, different color filters, shallow focus, shutter speed, grain, zoom-ins, black and white footage, negative colors, etc. I can't say that he pulled it all off successfully, but I do admire the willingness to experiment.
I highly doubt that Rob Zombie was going for coherency, but it was still hard to follow the characters, and the screenplay was rather patchy as well. Some of the acting was weak, though not from the main characters, and some of the dialogue didn't flow as well as it did for others. I chalk this up to it being Rob Zombie's first movie. The set design and the atmosphere that Rob Zombie creates is really where he comes into his own, that aspect was fantastic for horror fans. I liked how Zombie interspersed the movie when it came to certain characters with these grainy inner monologues that explained their philosophies when it came to why they did what they did. It gave some good insight into their perspectives, which I thought was largely missing in The Devil's Rejects.
Ultimately I don't think "House of 1000 Corpses" amounts to much more than a pastiche of other well known horror movies, most notably The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and so it feels largely derivative because of it. But he does succeed in crafting some truly memorable characters, and he certainly has a knack for some colorful dialogue. House of 1000 Corpses is pure grind house. Love him or hate him, Rob Zombie has his own voice and his own style, and he isn't afraid to let it be heard, which is more than I can say for 90% of directors working today in the ever increasing palatable homogeny that is Hollywood. I wish I would have watched this movie first and then The Devil's Rejects, but I accidently watched them backwards, so I wonder if my opinion would have been a little different had I watched them back-to-back... probably. In retrospect, I do think that The Devil's Rejects is a more polished and effective horror movie than House of 1000 Corpses is.
Written by - The Sentry - 26/02/2016