In the beginning of 2003, Rob Zombie was a musician who loved horror movies. Four months into the year he became the director of a horror movie known as House of 1000 Corpses. The story of House of 1000 Corpses is a story of perseverance; perseverance on the part of Zombie himself. Originally the movie was made in 2000 and due to be produced by Universal. Universal feared the movie would be rated NC-17 and shelved the project. Zombie was able to purchase the rights back and brought it the home of big budget horror: Lionsgate.
House of 1000 Corpses isn't a brilliant film by any stretch of the imagination. What it is is what many directors have tried to achieve with a horror film and that is a tribute wrapped in a solid movie. Few movies actually pay some respect to those that came before and yet still fewer achieve this goal. Zombie appears to have set out to make a fan's movie. This movie delivers this, if anything.
The film's story is lacking in complete originality. It plays on many horror tropes and takes its main theme from the plethora of films produced during the 70s after the rise of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Its boiled down to four young adults, Bill (Rainn Wilson,) Mary (Jennifer Jostyn,) Jerry (Chris Hardwick,) and Denise (Erin Daniels,) who are driving cross country, blow out a tire, and encounter a strange family.
Rob Zombie really pulls out all the stops in regards to House of 1000 Corpses. It's a fill that strives desperately to be strange and crazy and for the most part succeeds. Scenes jump around a lot and many of the scenes are shot differently than the main tail. We get cut scenes of other films, scenes filtered to appear differently visually, as well as scenes that come across more like a home movie shot by the killer family. When looked at many of these scenes add nothing to the story but much to the film itself.
What is achieved through this film, both with the jumpy, artistic scenes and the macabre horror of it all, is a new gem of a film. Its less a straight exploitation and horror film and more of a surrealist depiction of insanity. This movie clearly shows that Rob Zombie has a taste for horror films, especially the exploitative, grindhouse filth that dominated the genre movie scene of the late 60's through the early 80's.
House of 1000 Corpses is grade A horror. Its a surreal romp down the rabbit hole and into the bizarre. It took the film three years to find a home and when it did it met with mixed results. Many people hated it and many people loved it. The movie might be misunderstood and not seen for what it is, a modern day grindhouse movie and an homage to that which has passed. The movies reception is reminiscent of the reception to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse double feature.
Sometimes a movie tries very hard to be different and to create something strange. With House of 1000 Corpses, Rob Zombie did just that.
Its a glimpse into the mind of a mad genius. Watch it.
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