Rambling About House Of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Nutshell Ramble

An all-out exploitation film with sly wit and interesting filmmaking choices which make for an enjoyable watch even though the film goes slightly off the rails in the third act.



Full Ramble

House of 1000 Corpses is a 2003 exploitation horror film written and directed by Rob Zombie. It stars Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Karen Black, Sheri Moon Zombie, Rainn Wilson, Chris Hardwick, Erin Daniels and Jennifer Jostyn. The film follows the final day in the life of 4 teens who fall victim to the supposed deadliest family in America.

House of 1000 Corpses is a lot of fun when compared to The Devil’s Rejects. Yes, the latter is shot better and works with a tighter story, but this film is just more alive. Sid Haig and Karen Black are a joy to watch. Their previous acting experience combined with the creep factor they bring to their roles makes them two of the most compelling characters in this ensemble. Sheri Moon Zombie and Bill Moseley try their best to match to their fictional family member’s level of creepiness but they are not getting scary until The Devil’s Rejects comes along. The four teens in question are just the most generic cannon fodder one can ask for in a horror movie. That actually works in this film’s context because the focus of the story is not the teens, but the psychopathic family. The supporting cast who make up the remainder of the family has a few memorable members and a lot of forgettable ones. I’m quite convinced every new viewer will have their own favorites with this colorful cast of characters.

What all of us are actually here for are the gore and cool kills, because we are all sick bastards going to hell in a handbasket. The film does not have either but the mood the film sets before the kills, take center stage. The kills seem more brutal because of the location the characters find themselves in. These settings ooze a feeling of macabre and the grindhouse style of direction on display just pushes the point home that much harder. There are a whole bunch of innovative cutaways and edits which are bound to keep the audience’s eyes glued to screen or make them shudder in horror depending on each viewer’s personal perspective. I for one found some of them enjoyable but most of them unnecessary. Less in more would have a been a good principle to use in this case but being an exploitation film, it had to exploit the hell out of everything I presume.

The downside of the film comes with the lulls it takes between the moments of gore. The film gives the audience some breathing room between some admittedly gruesome scenes but these moments don’t amount to anything. They are just lazily put in between the money shots because they have to be there. The film’s final act was supposed to be the severed eyeball on top of a pile of corpses but it ends up feeling more out of left field than anything else. The first act does set up the ending in a way but that does not excuse some serious shenanigans the film does to get it there. The clear inspiration for this sequence was from The Hills Have Eyes but I could only roll my eyes at this weak attempt at an homage. In my opinion, there are some truly unnecessary shots of rituals being performed and for a film which has an unmissable shot of God is Dead as it starts, ritualistic mumbo-jumbo comes off as an undercut.

All in all, the film feels exactly how one would have felt reading this little essay. It’s rushed, incoherent and all over the place. But in a weird way, it all comes together to make it a blood-soaked piece of entertainment. It is bound to be disgusting to some and lovable to others but all who watch it with surely come out with an opinion in line with one of the 4 teens who get slaughtered. Come to think about it, the film played itself and to that I say, Congratulations.


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