For over two years, Rob Zombie's directorial debut has languished on
a shelf as various movie studios debated about whether or not they should
release it. First, Universal Studios decided against releasing it after
fearing its NC17 rating would harm business. MGM picked it up for a time
before ultimately passing on it. Lion's Gate, who picked up and released
an edited version of the film on April 11, 2003, were surprised when it
did pretty decent business in it's opening weekend. So, what's all the
of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Starring: Karen Black, Sid Haig, and Bill
of 1000 Corpses tells the tale of two young couples, including
Rainn Wilson from HBO's Six Feet Under, Chris Hardwick from the old MTV
game show Singled Out, and Erin Daniels from One Hour Photo, who are traveling
across the country looking for weird roadside attractions. When their
car gets low on gas, they stop at Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters
and Madmen, where they learn the tale of local serial killer, Dr. Satan.
Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) tells them that Dr. Satan hung himself from
a tree that still stands nearby. Upon leaving the museum, the kids set
out to find the hanging tree. In the middle of a terrible downpour, they
encounter a lone female hitchhiker (Sheri Moon) and get a flat tire --
never a good combination. The hitchhiker turns out to be Baby, one of
the members of a psychotic family living in the woods. Like bait on a
hook, Baby reels in the victims for her family to play with.
It's obvious from the start of the opening credits that Rob Zombie is
a fan of this genre. Even if one was unfamiliar with his music and video
work, it's immediately evident that he knows what works in the creep-out
department. This is old-school creep-out we're talking about here. This
is not the type of horror film that gets made anymore. It's bizarre and
unsettling; not so much because it's gory -- and it's not all that gory,
anyway -- but because it's simply nothing like you'd expect it to be.
It's cut from the same cloth as films like the original Texas Chainsaw
Massacre and The Last House on the Left -- films that might seem tame
by today's standards but still retain a high degree of unpleasantness
that gets under your skin and makes you uncomfortable. House of 1000
Corpses is like those films in that regard. It's not shockingly scary but it will
make you glad it's just a movie.
More shocking than what's in
the movie is what isn't in the movie. I'm still scratching my head as
to what would have led to the constant turnover
in the distribution of the film. While it's certainly clear that some
editing was done to make an R-rating, the final product doesn't even come
close to pushing the limits of that constraint. The hype created by the
problems in getting distribution for the film certainly worked in creating
curiosity for its release. The lack of anything that would have made the
censors vomit will probably now just fuel the demand for an unedited DVD
version which can show the film "as the director intended" or
some such nonsense.
That's not to say the film isn't worth seeing as it is. It's just not
quite as hardcore as the stories might make you believe. What is here,
though, is a kind of horror change-up pitch. It's certainly not made for
the I Know What You Did Last Summer mindset, but rather a nod to the LSD-fueled
horror of the 1970s, where common sense got in the way of a good time.
Viewed with that in mind, House of 1000 Corpses is a lot of fun.
Moon, who plays Baby, is Rob Zombie's wife. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)