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House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Movie Review by The Mortician

House of 1000 Corpses (2003) Well, Rob Zombie's movie finally gets the big release. The questions that horror fans are asking themselves...was it worth the hype? Does it deliver the goods?Well, yes and no. HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES is basically a lukewarm 'tribute' to exploitation drive-in movies of the past, with a 21st Century upgrade. (And that upgrade is essentially some FAST CUTS, weird choices of music, and colorful psychedelic imagery. Think White Zombie rock videos.) There's lots of quick cutting to stock footage and other movies, as a matter of fact, which gives the flick a NATURAL BORN KILLERS feel.The biggest problem that I have with HOUSE is that it feels like we've seen it before--- and that's on a first view. Not that the movie is BAD per se, it just feels like another sequel to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. A little higher-quality than the last few, but a little lower quality than the highly underrated first TEXAS sequel...HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES also has very little story---even less than the movies it pays tribute to. Four teens are on a 1977 road trip looking for weird stuff (one of them is writing a book on wacky tourist traps) and their car breaks down while looking for legendary 'Doctor Satan' some kind of serial killer that does gruesome experiments on people. The group of kids are then kidnapped, abused, and murdered by a psycho family a'la CHAINSAW. Some of them are then 'sacrificied' to Doctor Satan in a bizarre scene. Karen Black effectively plays the mother, Bill Mosley (from Chainsaw 2) plays one of the lead nutbags, and Zombie's wife Sheri Moon plays 'Baby' a female murderess. We've seen all this before, even though the homages are done lovingly enough by Zombie the exploitation fan: there's echoes of TEXAS CHAINSAW 1 & 2, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, HELLRAISER (a spooky chase through an underground tunnel of death near the end), and many other classic splatter flicks. The problem is, with HOUSE, you don't care about ANY of the lead characters, you don't even know who they are. At least in the 'golden oldie' slasher flicks, each of the lead 'victims' had qualities that set them apart from each other and made them distinctive. Here, the four teens are so generic they might as well be cardboard cutouts. And most of the dialogue in the movie is just cursing. We've all heard cussing before, but for EVERY character to just simply belt out one profane comment after another in lieu of any amount of DIALOGUE or anything INTERESTING or even EXPOSITION that might tell a story... just gets AGGREVATING after so long. Zombie the writer obviously needs to do some reading. Endless expletives should not earn one's card into the Writer's Guild.On the upside, Mrs. Sheri Zombie does wear some sexy, revealing outfits in the movie and is very pleasing to the eyes. However, her character's 'laugh' (or cackle, obviously a 'homage' to the lead possessed female actress in the original EVIL DEAD) gets so annoying after a few times (and we hear it at least 100 times throughout the movie!) that the viewer begins to wish that someone would kill her off, despite her ghoulish beauty.Tom Towles (Otis in HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER) makes a fairly memorable appearance in the middle of the movie as a doomed Sheriff. This part of the tale was extremely hard to watch---in a world that has become so brutal, it just wasn't very entertaining seeing policemen brutally slaughtered while the camera seemed to soak it all up so 'gleefully'---you'll see what I mean in the way these scenes are so stylistically executed. I have a feeling this is the part that sent Universal execs dashing away from this project like scolded dogs, and with good reason.Another thing that makes the whole 'crazy family clan' idea so difficult for 21st Century viewers to take seriously is that reality T.V. and shows like JERRY SPRINGER have brought us so many...SHOCKING and CRAZY scenarios that real people in real (deranged) families do to each other...it simply makes it much more difficult for modern fictional maniacs to compete. Even the lunatics vying to be 'The Filthiest People In The World' in John Waters' PINK FLAMINGOS seem tame and laughable in this day and age. I don't know about everyone else, but seeing a bunch of fake 'killers' in HOUSE running around and attacking people with rubber knives and the like is nowhere near as offensive as the last JERRY SPRINGER SHOW I flipped past---which featured a guy with a goatee, sporting a minidress and haltertop with combat boots, who was having an 'affair' with his deeply disturbed seventy-year-old mother, who candidly kept taking her dentures out of her mouth to show the audience how much she enjoyed 'gumming' her boy's...well, you get that idea. And even though they kept blurring it out, 'mom' kept flashing the camera!THIS was highly disturbing to me. The 'maniac family' stuff of cinema past just isn't shocking anymore compared to the reality of the day. (I think the PINK FLAMINGOS family would actually bore the Springer audience today---in other words, today's viewers have become JADED to the max.)To sum it up, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES (and I didn't count more than a couple of dozen corpses total in this movie) is like an overextended Rob Zombie rock video that salutes all your favorite slasher flicks from the '70's. While not patently bad, we've seen it all before, and it just makes you want to go back and view the classics you love, taking you back to an era where it was actually possible to be shocked and offended.
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