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House of 1000 Corpses
2003 - R - 88 Mins.
Director: Rob Zombie
Producer: Andy Gould
Written By: Rob Zombie
Starring: Karen Black, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon,
Review by: Harrison Cheung
One of the worst movies I’ve seen in years, ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ was supposed to be a wildly stylized update of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ done for the MTV crowd. Writer/director Rob Zombie (nee Robert Cummings) roots are in heavy metal music – he was the former lead singer of the metal band White Zombie. Rob decided to parlay his love of horror movies into this pet project that was wildly anticipated by his deathmetal music fans as the ultimate slasher/gross-out flick.

Whether it was real or fabricated, production problems were reported because of the movie’s excessive violence and the production company (Universal)’s desire to keep a PG-13 rating. The movie was eventually sold off to Lions Gate for North American distribution with an R.

The story is familiar enough. Four teenagers get lost in rural Texas on Halloween’s eve in 1974. At a local gas station, they hear of the legend of Doctor Satan, a mass murderer/dental sadist who may or may not have disappeared years ago. Of course, the teenagers go looking for Doctor Satan’s landmarks and they end up stranded in the rain on a dirt road with a flat tire (in a presumed homage to ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’). The luckless teens soon find themselves the unhappy guests of a strange country family headed by Mother Firefly (Karen Black). Torture, mutilation, bloodletting, tits and ass soon ensue.

Where to begin? ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ works as background noise, say if you’re having a Halloween party and want something on TV. Rob Zombie’s love of horror movies shows, but it shows in cliché after predictable horror movie cliché. From the psycho clown who runs the gas station to Karen Black’s over-the-top inbred-country mama to a foul-mouthed grandpa and a hideously disfigured “junior”, we’ve seen every element before in vastly more cohesive B-movies and darker episodes of 'The X-Files'.

If ‘House’ was a simple rip-off or “homage” to ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, that would be fine. We’ve had some good horror remakes recently – ‘Dawn of the Dead', '28 Days’ and the 2003 remake of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ itself. But Mr. Zombie decided to cram a confusing mix of other elements in some hyper need to acknowledge every horror video he has in his library: the psycho clown, ripped off from ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’; the violent hillbilly slut (played by Zombie’s wife, Sherri Moon); a toxic avenger; and his own creation – Doctor Satan – a would-be new horror movie villain who looked more like a prop from the cover of an Iron Maiden album.

While the mostly unknown cast is competent enduring Zombie’s extreme Universal Studios horror ride, the writing is simply terrible. Robert may be a successful metal music video stylist but he is no writer. The first two thirds of the movie is the paint-by-numbers ‘Texas Chainsaw’ rip-off, but the last third looks like a rock video grafted onto the hairy butt of this ugly beast. Blatantly filmed on a soundstage, the last third of the movie has one teen running through… the House of 1000 Corpses where she gets to witness every grotesque set design Robert could come up with. Add to these visions of hell, a bunch of nude and dissected Texas cheerleaders and you complete this offensive vision of excess and exploitation.

Finally, Zombie’s camera work is of the video game/multimedia/oscillation variety – the kind of visual pain that made kids in Japan go catatonic. Even if you're looking for gore, you won't be able to see anything clearly thanks to Zombie's hyper editing.

There may be 1000 corpses, but something else stinks in this House. Where’s Elvira when you need her?
Movie Guru Rating
Offensive and completely without value.  Should never have been released.
  0 out of 5 stars

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