House of 1000 Corpses
Starring:
Bill Moseley, Karen Black, Chris Hardwick, Sid Haig
Directed By:
Rob Zombie
Grade
D

Rob Zombie has always seemed a bit off, even when just being a part of White Zombie, a heavy metal act whose gimmick was a heavy reliance on cult films, most notably, the slasher schlock horror genre. So, when Rob wanted to finally put a movie together as an homage to what is obviously his favorite genre, he wrote, directed and even created the music for the film that original distributors Universal eventually backed out of. The film, which had to be edited just to get an R rating, finally reached the theaters when Lions Gate picked up the ball.

The story revolves around two couples on a cross-country trip who end up, late one night, in a gas station in Ruggsville, where they run into Captain Spaulding, a demented clown with a ride that exhibits various mass murders, punctuating the ride with a tale of local killer, Dr. Satan. After the ride, one of the guys grills Spaulding for the location of where Dr. Satan was supposedly hung for his crimes, which fortunately for the story, is nearby. Once the two couples head out that way, they pick up an odd hitchhiker, only to end up needing a tow. While their car is being repaired, they find themselves guests at a disturbing house packed with a menagerie of disturbing hosts.

Before too long, the guests become hostages and victims in a series of events that move from just deranged and odd to just confusing. It's not to say that the script really made much sense to begin with, but the story goes from predictable slasher flick to a jumble of incoherent ideas that seem to be slapped together to try and get some kind of rise out of you. The script, which has plot holes so big you could drive a truck through them, seems to lack anything of substance. The characters are so shallow and poorly developed that you don't find yourself caring whether they're killed or not. The bulk of the movie just seems to boil down to one torturous murder after another.

Unfortunately, House of 1000 Corpses isn't even scary. Unless you count all the cheap, predictable scares and the overuse of negative filming and images throw in to supposedly shock you. The only really watchable aspect of the film that could be mistaken for horror are the actual monstrous freaks that run the house. Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding is possibly the strongest aspect of the film when it comes to acting.

Probably the only really redeeming factor behind the film might be its usefulness for psychology majors as a case study into the mind of someone who has a fascination with misogyny and issues with figures of authority and even a distaste for "backwater hicks and rednecks". Whether these overbearing themes (the misogyny alone will beat you over the head) are a part of the director or just trying to be representative of the genre is a point to be argued at a later time.

Ultimately, House of 1000 Corpses tries to be a send-up of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Last House on the Left and many other representatives of a genre that is well beyond its time, but unfortunately comes across like a 90 minute music video without enough music to cover the over-the-top visuals that Rob has managed to pack into it. Skip this unless you really are a huge fan of Rob Zombie and his affection for the genre.

- - Vane

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