Joe Dobbs III
Robert Allen Mukes
Strong, bloody horror
Trivia · Universal pictures (original production company) refused to release the film, believing it would be given an "NC-17" rating by the MPAA.
· Filmed in 2000, and not released until three years later.
· The robber's line about 'grease paint' and 'brains' is a reference to the song "Grease Paint And Monkey Brains" by Rob's former band, White Zombie.
· The actual house is the same used in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The (1982), which can be viewed during Universal Studio's tram ride. However, during filming, Universal refused to cease the tram tours, which delayed filming during many scenes.
· Most of the cutaway scenes (Otis torturing cheerleaders, Baby masturbating with the skeleton, etc). were filmed in Rob Zombie's basement after filming wrapped. He would invite cast members over to his house on the weekends and shoot the footage himself with a 16mm hand-held camera. With the exception of the shot of a setting sun, he created the opening credits the same way. roughly two seconds) as Dr. Wolfenstein's assistant, hitting a pumpkin with a sledgehammer. Zombie was originally going to play Wolfenstein himself, but he didn't like the way the makeup turned out and opted to have a brief cameo instead.
· Inside Captain Spaulding's gas bar/fast food/museum of horror, behind the cash on the wall are reproductions of Aleister Crowley's paintings of demonic figures which were later discovered under whitewash in his former Abbey of Thelema, in Cefalu, Italy.
· When Denise is lowered down in Dr Satan's lair, a tape player is also sent down and it keeps repeating a slowed down version of Aleister Crowley's poem "The Poet", read by himself (found on CD called The Great Beast Speaks which is the only know recording of Crowley). The line from the poem that gets repeated over and over is: "Bury me in a nameless grave".
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House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
3rd Jul 05
Four young adults are welcomed into the Firefly family house. It all goes very wrong for them.
Review House of 1000 Corpses does what it says on the tin. Rob Zombie’s first feature marks the celluloid initiation of a man who was only operating at a small percentage of his potential. It would not be until the time of his second film (and House of 1000 Corpses sequel), The Devil’s Rejects, that we could argue that this guy not only means business, but also is capable of producing work that is accessible for film fans outside of the horror community.
Zombie is in love with horror films. This is House of 1000 Corpses' raison d’etre. The most obvious influence, as everyone well knows, is Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s quite fun to spot just how many references Zombie could sew into the script of this one film. They are many, but the movie’s damning critics have no doubt dwelt on these references to such an extent that I need not regurgitate them here.
Two young couples are on the road driving through America, working on a book about strange, roadside attractions when they stumble upon Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Horrors (with fried chicken and gasoline). We know Spaulding is a crazy fuck because he and his assistant (J.F. Sebastian from Blade Runner, no less) have only just finished offing two unfortunate losers attempting a hold-up. Intrigued by Spaulding’s crazy Museum of Horrors, the younglings unwisely decide to take the grand tour where Spaulding tells them all about the local legend of Dr. Satan.
Further intrigued, they subsequently ask him for directions to the tree where he was hanged after being lynched by good ole local USA small town folk many, many years ago. While searching for the tree on this dark, rainy night, they pick up the rather attractive yet clearly mental Baby (Sheri Moon) who takes them to her house after the car blows a tire. Here they are met by the rest of the delightful Firefly family; Mother Firefly (Karen Black), Otis (Bill Moseley), Tiny (Matthew McGrory) and others who again seem to be updated versions of Hooper’s original TCM clan. This is where everything starts to go very wrong as the younglings are treated to a very peculiar brand of hospitality.
The first 60 or so minutes of House of 1000 Corpses is quality stuff. We are confronted with a suitably pleasing blend of intensely visceral horror and dark humour. The Firefly family are figures of intense exaggeration, scaring us, intriguing us and, unfortunately, annoying us. Sheri Moon’s baby character may irritate after a while. She might be a peach but the unfortunate choice of maniacal kiddie cackle does grate after a while. Is this Zombie’s reference to the Deadite-possessed Linda’s evil cackle in Evil Dead 2? Yes, probably.
The best scene by far is the when the cops pay a visit to the charmingly quaint Firefly residence and are set upon by the clan. The music accompanies the graceful slo-mo action and you will gasp in disbelief at just how masterfully the scene draws to conclusion, as the Otis holds the deputy at gunpoint while the camera slowly cranes into the air and the song finishes. Silence. BANG! Genius.
As the title suggests, House of 1000 Corpses is a ghost train of a horror movie. You can’t predict where it’s taking you but it’s fair to say that the sole survivor, whom I like to call Sally Hardesty, finds what the group eventually went looking for, and then some. And then some more. And more, until, arguably, it becomes a challenge to sustain interest.
In a strange kind of way, the initial nasty events that unfold are pretty plausible – we can believe that there are people this fucked-up out there in small-town (or rural) USA. This, folks, is pure horror, like THAT film Zombie loves tipping his hat to most often. Unfortunately however the plausibility juices starts to run a little dry when we are re-introduced to the Firefly clan in face paint, white dresses and torches (fire torches, of course), it gets a little…ridiculous. Instead of keeping the horror real, Zombie changes into top gear and assaults our senses with everything at his disposal.
Zombie has crafted himself a nice style with House of 1000 Corpses; the grainy footage of the opening credits are a precursor to the many brief docu-style clips inserted throughout this scary ride, punctuating the homage-fest with images of what could be the Firefly family members’ home footage. While these inserts could easily detract from the flow of the movie, they enhance the pace, lending a fluid rhythm to overall proceedings.
One of the best things that House of 1000 Corpses has going for it is that some of the cast are, simply put, awesome. Sid Haig doesn’t need to prove himself – his CV does that for him: Kill Bill 2, Jackie Brown, Foxy Brown, Black Mama White Mama, THX 1138, Spider Baby to name a few. It looks like Sid doesn’t have much trouble getting work. This is hardly surprising given the fact that it is impossible to imagine Captain Spaulding being played by anyone else in any league, ever. He’s a maniac but so funny with it; don’t dare tell him you don’t like clowns. And don’t try to hold up his gas station…
Do you remember Chop Top from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2? Well, that’s Bill Moseley who plays this film’s most heinous villain, Otis – a really nasty piece of work and a character to give David Hess a run for his money. Besides TCM2, Moseley isn’t noted for much else (apart from perhaps the as Deadite Captain in Army of Darkness), although his obvious talent sees him right for securing steady acting work in the film and television business. Moseley brings one hell of an intense character to life in Otis Driftwood and, as with Chop Top, looks completely at home as part as a crazy-ass family collective, ranting, shouting, killing and being an all-round nice guy.
House of 1000 Corpses is homage as much as it is derivative but when a movie has a sting in its tail this potent it’s hard not to just sit back and let it take effect. If this was music it’d be Heavy Metal. Rock on.
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