House of 1000 Corpses is a very bloody and gory movie. In the 1980’s it would probably have been labelled as a video nasty, but it is rather funny in places as well, and never fails to be entertaining. It is also—in my opinion—a horror masterpiece and a work of genius on the part of its creator, Rob Zombie.
At the beginning of the movie two young couples stop at an out of the way petrol station to fill up with fuel. Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madness is attached to the station and the boys are eager to go inside and check it out. They are especially keen to go on the murder ride and so, whether they want to or not, the girls have to go with them and it is one strange and freaky ride. Mention is made of Dr Satan and the boys are very interested in hearing more about him and in visiting the place where he was hung for his crimes (his body was gone the next day and never turned up).
The boys pick up a gorgeous young girl from the side of the road and their girlfriends are less than impressed. But that’s okay the guys are impressed enough for all of them. They don’t get far because a tire blows out, which is only to be expected becuase someone has shot a bullet through it, but the guys don’t realize this, so they are more annoyed than afraid. Their passenger knows exactly what has happened to the tire, but is keeping her pretty, little lips firmly closed.
The gang end up going home with the girl whose name turns out to be Baby Firefly, and meeting her family—who are nothing like the Brady Bunch, I can tell you. They are a bunch of psychopathic killers, seriously off their trolleys and seriously loving every moment of it. From that point on the gang from the car are well and truly screwed. They just don’t know it, and by the time they do know it is much too late and the house of horrors that they have entered makes Spaulding’s Murder Ride seem like a ride in the park.
Sheri Moon does a great job of portraying the derange Baby Firefly and Karen Black (who plays Mother Firefly) manages to be both alluring and repulsive at the same time, which is no mean feat. Staying on the subject of feet, the head of the head cases, Rufus, is a guy who will hapilly use his feet to walk over anyone that gets in his way. He is also a talented sculptor, in a strange, sadistic and very sick way. The sculptures that Rufus creates are constructed from body parts! But that’s all right because Rufus never seems to have a shortage of material to work with and one gets to wondering how many of his creations might have found a home amongst Spaulding’s exhibits.
I will be honest here and admit I don’t like excessively gory movies. They just aren not my thing—usually—but there is a lot more to House of 1000 Corpses, than just gore. One scene in particular will always stick to my mind. The scene shows a policeman, on his knees with a gun pointed at his head. The song “I Remember You” plays in the background and the camera focuses first on the barrel of the gun and the madman who is holding it (Rufus). The camera then rises slowly into the air for an aerial shot and the policeman seems to have to wait forever before he is put out of his misery. The viewer is kept waiting as well . . . and waiting . . . and waiting; and even the song sees its end before the policeman exits with a bang and topples into the dust. It is an agony of anticipation.
The use of coloured filters helps to give House of 1000 Corpses a manic and disjointed feel. As does humour, but it is always hard to anticipate what will happen next. And it could be anything! Heads are scalped; faces are made into masks and then worn. Flesh and bone is mutilated, occult ceremonies take place, and Baby Firefly even dons a tight shiny dress and mimes out an extremely visually stimulating rendition of “I Want to be Loved by You”. Grandpa Firefly tells a few jokes—and what a strange old dude he is—and Baby visits a liquor store called The Red Hot Pussy Liquors, where they seem to have an interesting sideline to their business.
House of 1000 Corpses is a great movie but it isn’t a movie to send the kiddies to bed on with their mug of cocoa. Even a lot of adults might be shocked by some of its many scenes of gore. If you can stomach the gore though, and are not offended by the occasional sight of a naked body—or body parts—you might like this movie. It’s a little uncomfortable to watch at times, but it is hard not to be curious about what will happen next.
Director: Rob Zombie
Sid Haig … Captain Spaulding
Bill Moseley … Otis Driftwood
Sheri Moon Zombie … Baby Firefly
Karen Black … Mother Firefly
Chris Hardwick … Jerry Goldsmith
Erin Daniels … Denise Willis
Jennifer Jostyn … Mary Knowles
Rainn Wilson … Bill Hudley
Walton Goggins … Deputy Steve Naish
Tom Towles … Lieutenant George Wydell
Matthew McGrory … Tiny Firefly
Robert Allen Mukes … Rufus ‘R.J.’ Firefly Jr.
Dennis Fimple … Grandpa Hugo Firefly
Harrison Young … Don Willis
William Bassett … Sheriff Drake Huston
Irwin Keyes … Ravelli
Michael J. Pollard … Stucky
Chad Bannon … Killer Karl
David Reynolds … Richard ‘Little Dick’ Wick
Walter Phelan … Dr. Satan / S. Quentin Quale
Jake McKinnon … The Professor / Earl Firefly
Irvin Mosley Jr. … Lewis Dover
Joe Dobbs III … Gerry Ober
Gregg Gibbs … Dr. Wolfenstein
Ken Johnson … Skunk Ape Husband
Judith Drake … Skunk Ape Wife