In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

1000 Corpses Revisited.

As I’ve mentioned before, my friend Serena has regular movie nights. Last Friday was the latest edition and when I heard she was going to spin Rob Zombie's debut House Of 1000 Corpses, I was mildly intrigued. It had been a long time since I’d seen it (since its 2003 release actually) and I wanted to see if it had gotten any better with age. Looking back on my original review, it appears decidedly positive, but you can tell there was apprehension there, like I hadn’t quite worked it out in my head what a mess of a film 1000 Corpses really was. My brain was trying to convince myself that I liked it, just because I’d been waiting to see it for so long – much like my experience with the Star Wars prequels.

So, putting all that aside, I gave 1000 Corpses another watch. Has it gotten better with age? Fuck no. It is still as incomprehensible as it always was. It still flips back and forth from serious to campy at the drop of a cowboy hat. Initially, I thought that it was because Zombie wasn’t sure what he wanted the film to be, but now I suspect he was doing it deliberately to throw off the viewer. Although ‘throw off’ maybe too kind a word; annoy, agitate, or irritate might be better terms. And all these little doc-style, drug trip interludes are as maddening as ever. This isn’t a music video, Rob. I am certain that without those distracting segues, 1000 Corpses might have actually been palatable. You can have musical sequences, hell the opening and final montages in The Devil’s Rejects (Zombie’s only solid work) are great, but have them be necessary.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a good film in here somewhere. The first act with Captain Spaulding – I still maintain Sid Haig and Bill Moseley are the best thing about this movie – at the gas station is actually pretty strong. Too bad it starts to fall apart as soon as Baby ‘please-stick-ice-picks-in-my-ears-if-she-laughs-again’ Firefly, shrilly played by pre-Zombified Sheri Moon, comes into the picture. However, it’s really the last act where this thing fully comes off the rails.

Stop. Just please stop.

Visually, the movie is a grotesque feast, but there’s nothing to back it up. I think the dark imagery presented here is more suited for a medium other than film. In fact, that’s what I’ve come to think of Rob Zombie as an artist. It is my opinion that he has many talents, but filmmaking is not one of them. I consider House of 1000 Corpses a failed experiment. A dry run. He took what he learned on that set and then made The Devil’s Rejects, which as I said, is far superior. It is a real shame that he wasn’t able to take that momentum and channel into something other than an unwanted remake. You can quote the stories about how the suits wouldn’t finance anything other than Halloween, but I’m afraid I don’t buy it. If he really wanted to make something original (an adaptation of he & Steve Niles’ comic The Nail for instance), he could have financed it himself. No money, you say? Go on fucking tour! Join up with a few other like minded individuals and pool your resources!

I usually don’t speak so harshly, but that whole Halloween debacle really bugged me. Mainly, it’s just that I don’t like to see ANYBODY, let alone someone who so clearly loves the genre, fall from grace and have to constantly contradict themselves like Zombie did.

But I’m far from where I started here. My subsequent viewing of House of 1000 Corpses did nothing but unfortunately solidify my suspicions. It is just not very good.


Matt said...

Well said, Jay. I agree with you that Zombie is a talented person but I just wish he would stop making films. I remember seeing this in the theater when it came out and just being baffled by the last 1/3 or so. He couldn't decide what kind of movie he was trying to make. It's like a Texas Chainsaw rip-off but stripped of all the terror

Chris H said...

The damn thing is full of so many brilliant moments, it's frustrating as hell.

I might have to watch it again, too.

Many filmmakers have been able to pool together money to make their films happen, so I don't understand Zombie's excuses, either. I mean, it's not like Ti West or Paul Solet are rolling in dough, but they were able to deliver two very solid films last year that obviously didn't cost multi-millions of dollars.

Greg said...

Honestly, I'm afraid of watching this movie again because I saw it when I didn't have as much of a knowledge about horror and films in general and I liked it. I've a feeling I may rip this to shreds.

I did love the sequel, though.

Serena Whitney said...

Hey Jay,

Thanks for the shout out! I agree with you too. I still think that opening scene is awesome and you can see Rob Zombie’s potential riddled through out his mistakes. It’s still light years better than Halloween 2. :P