DIRECTED BY: Rob Zombie
PLOT: Four college kids are abducted by a backwoods maniac family.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Because the Texas Chainsaw Massacre ripoff plot was too tissue-thin to support a movie, heavy metal musician turned debutante director Rob Zombie’s fleshed the film out with stylistic excess. Home movies from inside the serial killers’ psyches, purposeless solarizations, classic drive-in intertitles, and clips of vintage B&W cheesecake constantly interrupt what action there is. The effect is not to make the film weird, but to draw attention to the director– “I’m Rob Zombie, trash horror aficionado, and I’m making a movie!”–and make him seem weird. It ends on a highly surrealistic note, but this is actually the weakest part of the movie.
COMMENTS: Make no bones about it: House of 1000 Corpses is bad. This movie is what happens when you take The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, drain out all the scary, and replace it with annoying. Still, if Zombie had to fail, at least he failed bombastically rather than meekly. If you took away the directorial flourishes from the movie and left only the plot, played straight, then this movie really would have been a nightmare (see the weirdly praised sequel The Devil’s Rejects).
The presence of trash film icons Sid Haig (Spider Baby) as the memorable sideshow Captain Spaulding (pictured) and Karen Black as the redneck matriarch adds some interest.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“As Rob Zombie’s name twitched over the seizure-inducing opening credits sequence of ‘House of 1000 Corpses’, one highly eager dude in the 1/4 filled theatre gamely raised his fists and shouted, ‘Rob Zombie Rules!’ As the closing credits rolled an unbearably slow 88 minutes later, I’ll bet that same guy contemplated raising his fists again and announcing, ‘I apologize for rushing to judgment.'” -Todd Levin, Film Threat