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House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Written and Directed y Rob Zombie

Having done the majority of Rob Zombie’s small stack of films by now, how inappropriate of me to save his very first, for last. Funny in that by now, I’m sure those questioning his approaches have rather welcomed the tame frenzy that his initial project upon entering cinema may seem. Introducing us to the characters of Captain Spaulding, Baby and fan favorite Otis as the family from hell, dispenses their own judgments at will. Surely not my favorite of the two, as the sequel The Devils Rejects showed more of the reality behind the family. Whereas this was more of the families theatric side, hardly seeing Spaulding at all with various other aspects making the two entirely different films just so happening to be about the same people.

After beginning with a small cameo from Mr. Zombie and Dr. Wolfenstein, we enter ‘Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen.’ The credits not giving anymore leeway as to what we were in store for. Though we find a group of couples traveling across country, detailing in “offbeat” attractions for the book they were writing. Jerry(Chris Hardwick), with girlfriend Denise (Erin Daniels) as Bill (Rainn Wilson) received the unfortunate luck of being paired with infantile Mary (Jennifer Jostyn). While in desperate need of gas, they just as easily get sucked into the side tour. Presumably, the end of such had Jerry not insisted on also being given directions for the tree associated with Dr. Satan (Walton Goggins). The local legend of Mr. Quail, a master surgeon who interned at Willows county mental Hospital. Believing that he could create a race of superhumans from the unstable and hung for his duplicity; gone missing ever sense.

Finding that hitchhiker Baby (you‘d be dense to not want to pick her up), just so happened to live nearby and offered to personally take them if giving her a lift. The events following shortly building to an array of “disturbing” images in the sense of how carefree the family seemed while doing the things that amused them most. Their “home videos” seen periodically throughout, made for the most part in Zombie’s basement, were meant to emulate the Manson clan and type of morals they advocated. With a sheer rationale in killing just because they believed some people needed to be erased. Baby being the easiest to rope in victims, for obvious reasons. Mama (Karen Black), Tiny (Matthew McGrory), Rufus (Robert Allen Mukes) and Grandpa (Dennis Fimple) helping pull the strings in their own ways. Whether in setting up the traps, distracting or entertaining as they saw fit, there was always something going on in the background waiting for the moment to emerge. Otis, the more political one in the bunch, was an artist. On a dry spell that wouldn’t be patched until the arrival of his new guests.

As on the eve of Halloween, they sit down for a traditional dinner before Showtime! Sheriffs Wydell (Tom Towles) and Goggins (Steve Naish) are notified of Denise’s possible disappearance from her worried father and eventually make their way out to the area to check on a couple leads. Arriving to what appears the biggest junk sale of all time-just as Mama and Otis zero in on the officers we’re met with a slow mo that while was edited quite nicely, could have nipped a bit off the pan out at the end. Captured and taken to be buried in the “nameless grave,” Denise does temporarily get away, though reality sets in that this film doesn’t guarantee a survivor girl.

However, I didn’t feel as though this film was scary or should even be compared to those in the slasher film era because, that’s not the kind of film it is. Though it is still very different from what Directors in the genre are willing to shoot today. As well a great throwback feel that not everyone can obtain as easily while shooting in constant various methods; split lens, pan outs, zoom ins, solarized shots. He does it in a very up-close and personal way of throwing the fear in the victims face. Its almost as though one long music video of his. Clearly, a Universal film with the amount of clips seen throughout and artifacts found in the background to be plenty fruitful. With Erin Daniels making for what would be an appropriate almost survivor girl. But that’s not what Zombies films have ever promised, something we‘d find out within the years to come. Why should the victims always get to live and tell the tale of the harrowing escape so bravely accomplishing. Not much realism in that. Though in all honestly, one couldn’t help but wish to see Mary get hers eventually. Certainly the most difficult within the bunch, her constant comments and way of whining didn’t help her case any. But still a fun film to partake in. Whether the cheap scares or different ways of displaying the terror, the film holds up and doesn’t disappoint if you go in for the right reasons.

Which would be? Well, considering you’re a fan of all things horror and can’t help your curiosity. Go in expecting to get a nice appetizer with Captain Spaulding. To not necessarily root for the killers but just the same, not find yourself liking the victims any better. But the aesthetics of the film alone are what I like, besides Bill Moseley’s performance, which was perfection. The fact that Moseley is a great fan of Horror shows beautifully through this role as he’s able to let go completely and show a true manic side he possesses inside that nice looking outer shell. Sherri Moon, who was simply gorgeous in this film, had a laugh that certainly deterred some but worked for me along with her attire. The other Actors of course doing their part in making this what it was but in Zombie’s films, you come to expect his main antagonist to be the ones you keep your focus on; the addition of Spaulding seen more in the sequel a necessity.

~Also, while I noticed I rarely brought up Dr. Satan, with the way he’s handled in the second, I wasn’t even so sure I should say much at all. His entrance was fantastic as the way he was set up as he operated. Certainly a memorable image from the film. But not what the film was meant to be about so better to receive in tease than an overdrawn story of a man that could barely move to begin with.