Monday, December 12, 2016

Film Review: House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

House of 1000 Corpses (Review)
United States/2003
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It's an entertaining throwback to 70s exploitation films."

A group of friends in search of violent urban legends end up imprisoned by a family of serial killers...

House of 1000 Corpses follows a group of friends – two couples traveling cross-country in hopes of discovery grisly urban legends and bizarre roadside attractions for a book they're writing. While taking a stop for gas, the group meet Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), who tells them about the infamous Doctor Satan. While searching for the tree where Doctor Satan was hung, the couple pick-up a hitchhiker – Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie). And, of course, Baby leads them to her house, which is filled with psychopathic serial killers. The plot offers exactly what you expect. It doesn't go out of its way to deliver a unique experience, but it works as a throwback to classic slasher/exploitation films. I wasn't a big fan of the final act, but it wasn't bad. It's been growing on me.

House of 1000 Corpses isn't a bad film as a whole, either. I'd say it's just a little confused. The film starts off focused, Zombie is able to replicate the grungy exploitation style with finesse, but it gradually feels like it becomes a different movie. It's not a bad thing, but it does make it less effective. We start off with a group of generic slasher victim characters, but they quickly feel like an after-thought. On one hand, this makes their deaths less effective. To be honest, I can barely remember their names. On the other hand, this allowed Zombie to shift the focus on the more interesting characters – the serial killers – which, as we all know, led to a superior sequel. Aside from these plus and minuses, I think the film is a solid gorefest. It's nasty, it's vulgar, and it's a lot of fun for fans of the genre.

The acting isn't great, though. Sid Haig steals the show with his dedicated performance, but he's barely in the movie. Sheri Moon Zombie is inconsistent. There are a few scenes where she shines, but she mostly feels over-acted. Bill Moseley, who plays Otis, is great, on the other hand. The cinematography is also hit-and-miss. There are scenes that appear perfect, then there are those that are either too dark or hurt by the camerawork. Fortunately, it's mostly good. The film was written and directed by Rob Zombie. Although he was inconsistent here and there, I think Rob Zombie did a great job with this film. Despite his forgettable protagonists, he created a set of interesting villains. He delved deep into his depravity to create a violent and effective horror film.

Overall, House of 1000 Corpses is a very good movie. It's not a film for everyone. Some will dislike the grungy style, others will be offended by its violent content. I enjoyed it's atmosphere and it's story, even if it was simple. It's an entertaining throwback to 70s exploitation films. If you like Rob Zombie's other films, I think you'll enjoy this one. Despite my complaints, I think it was more focused than 31.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, nudity.

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