For me, the release of House of 1,000 Corpses was a special addition to the cinematic world. By that time I had been a long time horror fan already but on top of that, for the previous few years I’d also discovered metal music and had become a big fan of Rob Zombie and his previous band, White Zombie. I think that the musical themes relating to the horror and sci-fi helped a lot – along with their music of course being absolutely awesome.
Keeping on that theme, one of the things which helped really cement this movie as one which I was destined to love right from the start is that Rob Zombie provided the music, from the sound score through to the sound track, with House of 1,000 Corpses (taken from the Sinister Urge album) remaining one of my absolute favorite songs.
If you haven’t seen this film yet… I don’t know where the hell you’ve been hiding or what you’re doing finding inspiration here for horror movies to watch… Stop trying to find anything else and just start here – dip your toes in and get a best of inspired education in the genre.
What Zombie has done with this movie is to take everything which he loved from early slasher and back woods hillbilly horror movies like the Hills Have Eyes and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, add in his own brand of dark (and I mean really dark) humor, stirred in a passion for freak shows and then topped it all off with a pure talent for theatrics. I firmly believe that if you love old horror movies you’ll love this film and vice versa.
This was a baptism of fire in the directors chair for Zombie and it started a career as one of my favorite horror directors (let’s just try not to talk about Lords of Salem too much).
The story starts with a road trip with a group of friends and it all even feels like that old school horror era from the camera work & quality through to the costumes. We then see a bunch of cliches for the genre from a creepy attendant at a creepy gas station, complete with a creepy attraction, as well as hitch hikers, hillbillies, scarecrows, getting split up, trying to run away – you know the staple ingredients to any good horror soup. And I’m not sad about a single one – I wouldn’t spit out one mouthful…
… What’s that you want me to address Dr Satan?
Sorry I spat that mouthful out.
But seriously Dr Satan is one of those pieces of this story which I think you can only describe as a dumb mistake. Even Zombie seems to have regretted it from some of his later interviews. Everything in this story could remain in the realms of some really messed up reality. Hillbilly killer families could exist and we know that people get tortured and turned in to masks – it wouldn’t be the first time… But Dr Satan… I don’t even know what this derange doctor with whom they went way over the top with costuming is meant to be, but even remotely realistic he is not. It does distract a little from the rest of the story.
Let’s get back on track after all that Dr Satan talk. We already know that the story is amazing, the costume is incredible and I’ll tell you know that the set design and visual effects are absolutely top shelf in the horror genre – I can watch this film now and it has aged in the same way as older films like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, cementing it, as a 2003 movie, amongst these classics as an instant cult classic movie. But let’s have a chat about casting and performances.
Of course we start with Baby Firefly, played by Sherie Moon Zombie. I don’t want to say that Zombie uses his wife in every film he does, seemingly as a way to ensure that his wife manages to get some acting work, BUT let’s just say that shes in each of his films and a bunch of his music videos and really nothing else. I was going to say actually she has been in an episode of CSI Miami and Californication, but out of those 2, the CSI episode was also directed by Rob Zombie.
Don’t get me wrong, I do actually like her acting style, it’s perfectly suited for this kind of work and I always love seeing her in the movies, it would be nice to see her star in other people’s work, but equally I think it would add a little bit of variety and depth to his movie career to use a different leading lady once in a while.
Considering this was her acting debut though, she absolutely smashed it out of the park!
Other actors who did an absolutely sterling job were Robert Mukes, Bill Moseley, Chris Hardwick, Karen Black, Rainn Wilson, Walton Goggins and Matthew McGrory. I think these core members of the cast helped to make this the over the top movie it needed to be and are all absolutely on fire in a horror scenario.
But to finish off babbling on about what really is one of my favorite movies, I bet you thought I had forgotten about the late great Sid Haig! Absolutely not, this franchise actually introduced this man as an actor to myself – after all between the release of this film and 1990 he’d been on quite the hiatus from movie making having appeared in just the one movie (Jackie Brown) in the mean time. Sid Haig from there turned in to one of my favorite actors, with Captain Spaulding, the smart-ass, wise cracking, down right disgusting and totally demented clown being one of my all time favorite movie characters.
Do yourself a favor – stop reading my garbage and go watch that movie for real – even if you’ve already seen it… You owe it to your brain to smoosh this piece of grimy cinema gold back in to your eyes again.