As someone who has written an awful lot in defense of Rob Zombie it recently struck me as odd that the only films of his that I haven’t covered are the only two that people actually seem to like. What was I afraid it wouldn’t be enough of a challenge otherwise?
House Of 1000 Corpses is an awfully strange film, argument. It looks like exactly what it is, a movie made by a life long horror fan who was unsure if he’d ever get a chance to make another movie. And as a result threw more or less anything and everything he’d always wanted to see in a horror movie into one 90 minute long pot. As a result it rarely feels like two adjoining scenes are from the same movie. The film’s approach is summed up when it cuts directly from a cheesy horror host doing his best Ghoulardi in black and white directly to what appears to be real autopsy footage. The high artifice of Captain Spaulding’s Murder Ride clash roughly with the snuff film 8mm asethic of others, both of which look odd next to the comic book over the topness of the ten foot tall robot zombie who chases the heroine around with a battle axe, which when placed next to the natural lit sadism of- well you get the picture.
This gumbo school of filmmaking pervades across the whole movie, Sid Haig (Got to give Zombie credit for getting their first), fuck yeah. Bill Mosely, well yeah you gotta get him in here. Saw Karen Black begging for change by the side of the road? Sure why the hell not it’s a party. Michael J. Pollard? Holy fuck he’s alive? And is that Shane from The Shield about to get his head blown off? And Dwight from The Office? It surely is. To a certain extent Zombie is not directing a movie here, he is giving us a tour through a living wax museum that he has decorated as garishly as possible.
And I can understand why some people don’t enjoy the expirience. House Of 1000 Corpses is a mess to be sure, but I contend that it remains kind of an intriguing mess. Call me forgiving but I find it almost impossible to dislike any film made with this much passion.
Besides it’s not all amateur hour (although like I said the sheer unpolished enthusiam is a lot of what I like about the film). You cannot tell me that anybody who can drum up a sequence as tense and just plain odd looking as The Scarecrow set piece is without some serious fucking chops. There are enough genuine scares, creepy moments and unique style to prove that Zombie is not a slave to pastiche. His films just feel enormously tactile in a way I respond to, people always complain about the grime of his films but I like it, his environments don’t just look lived in, they look positively burrowed in. The House at the center of the film does look like something you’d get if you had a family of lunatics nest in a place for a good couple of decades and then gave another lunatic a camera and a major studio budget to make a movie there. I mean that as a compliment.