House of 1000 Corpses – movie review

You may have heard of this movie. Rom Zombie’s first film. I heard about it something like, 3 … maybe 4 years ago. At the San Diego Comicon in … 2000, I think it was, I saw a 30-minute behind the scenes featurette about it, predicting that it would be in theatres Halloween, 2001. Except that then it didn’t. Some sort of hub-bub about it being too awful for human eyes or some such. I remember reading reviews by people (people who had seen advance research screenings) whose lives revolve around gore and gory horror movies saying that the gore in House of 1000 Corpses was gratuitous. That it was over-the-top. Universal wouldn’t go forward with it. Rob fought and bought the rights to it after a long struggle, then began looking for a studio that would help him finish it and then distribute it. MGM was almost in on the deal, but Rob said something that didn’t synch with their PR, and they pulled out. Eventually he hooked up with Lion’s Gate, got the film finished, and cut two versions. An ‘R’ rated versions which was just released into theatres nationwide this weekend, and an ‘uncut’ version which will be released on DVD later this year. I just watched the ‘R’ cut.

I would like to begin by saying that this movie far surpassed the lowered expectations I had for it. FAR surpassed my expectations. Admittedly, after hearing years and years of bad reviews from the intended audience of the movie, after hearing about how Rob Zombie himself was disappointed with every cut of the movie at least until last fall, after not finding a single review of it to read, and hearing people coming out of the theatre saying they were disappointed, or they didn’t like the ending… I had lowered my expectations a notch or two. And it was better than I had expected it to be when I first heard about it. Go Rob!

It was scarier and funnier and sexier and at least as crazy as I had hoped it would be. I could see some places where it had clearly been edited down and/or re-cut and/or re-framed to reduce the amount of actual gore on the screen, but it was still plenty gory. Better, seeing places where I knew they’d filmed more, and more detail, than they were showing just made me happier to think of getting the DVD later, to see Rob’s entire vision. To see his masterpiece the way he intended it.

Did I mention sexy? Okay, okay, I’ll admit I’m a little …twisted in the head… but man does Rob know how to mix the sex and the violence. How could you help being turned on as she flew out of nowhere, knocking her victim to the ground and then stabbed again and again as her white flowing dress became a sticky red mess and her happy-go-moinkely lucky-schpedoinkely smile and laugh rang out across the too-crowded-with-crosses cemetary? Or earlier, with the first shot of the victim, bruised and bloody and dirty and tied to the bed crying, but wearing the cutest little dress you ever did see, just so, with her make-up done up as though by a doll in her sleep, even just for a second but burned into my retina and into my mind – erotic and troubling at the same instant.

Hmmm… the basic story is simple. Four young adults, two men and two women, are on a road trip. They stop for gas in a small town in the middle of the night and fall into the trap of the local mass-murderers. Terror ensues. The whole thing is set in the late seventies, and it’s more than a little wacky, but in a way I get along with fine. If I’d been one of their victims, they’d probably ended up adopting me…

Anyway, I uhh… I liked the movie a lot more than I thought I would, and I’ll probably buy the DVD (used, of course). There was a lot of really great, really captivating cinematography, and also a lot of experimental cinematography and video and DV mixed with the film in a mostly-effectively-jarring way. The casting was well done and most of the acting was spot-on. It is gory. It isn’t going to win any Academy Awards. But it does what it attempts with excellent gusto. It’s a horror movie, but not a particularly startling or pensive movie, as recent ‘horror’ movies have been. Really it’s just they story of how one twisted family likes to spend Halloween. Nothing YOU should be afraid of… unless you happen to be passing through their little town…

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Author, artist, romantic, insomniac, exorcist, creative visionary, lover, and all-around-crazy-person.

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