“House of 1,000 Corpses” is Gleefully Twisted Fun


Will Engle, Staff Writer

What do you get when you cross a family of murderous rednecks, a naive group of 20-somethings, a crumbling farmhouse, and the spirit of a maniacal doctor that has somehow taken on flesh, and is chomping at the bit to wreak havoc on the living?

Hell on Earth, you ask?

Well, not quite. But Rob Zombie’s seminal camp-horror masterpiece House of 1,000 Corpses isn’t far behind that. 

Following its release in 2003, House of 1,000 Corpses (which will henceforth be called House) was ground into dust by film critics. Horror snobs turned up their delicate noses at even the mere mention of such a heinous film. It’s lively as incoherent rubbish goes, but in addition to being totally derivative, it feels like a pod movie – a perfect imitation of an existing being but without a heart or a mind of its own.” sniffed the Empire, casting this madhouse of a movie into the garbage bin for good. Out of sight, out of mind.

Or so they thought.

I think I speak for all horror aficionados when I say that “plot” or “coherence” aren’t always the driving force behind a good horror movie. Pretentious nitwits (myself included) will rave until they’re blue-faced about some new plot-driven, intelligent horror film that somehow ties in social commentary and literary references, all filmed on glorious vintage cameras. At the end of the day, none of us are truly here to see such things. Horror fans are here for the adrenaline. We’re here for the fear factor, the heart-pounding tension, and maybe even a heavy helping of fake gore to top things off. House is stuffed to the gills with all of these things, and it still manages to be original. While it does follow the classic “car-broke-down-in-the-woods-of-blood-thirsty-psychopaths” plot line that any average moviegoer is familiar with, Zombie’s characters still maintain their zany originality. For example, House’s prominent figure, the foul-mouthed Captain Spaulding, follows the basic mold for a psychotic killer that has been used by horror movies for generations. However, once you throw in a load of greasepaint, a bellowing Southern accent and a “good-ol-boy” attitude, you’ve got a whole different figure on your hands. There is no arguing that House follows a familiar mold. However, accusing Zombie of unoriginality in this film is, to be frank, ridiculous. 

Overall, I am here to state that House, while often used as a punching bag by horror snobs worldwide, is not an unwatchable film at all. In fact, it is incredibly enjoyable. While it does not stray very far from a typical horror plot-line, none of it lacks in originality, and though it is occasionally overwhelming in its shock value, it still remains a satisfying and darkly humorous watch. If you’re looking for intellect, poise, and grace within your horror films, I wouldn’t recommend House to you by any means. But if you are a fan of gore, psychopathic hillbillies, and the idea of Dwight Schrute from The Office (Yes, he does star in this film) getting turned into a human version of the Feejee Mermaid, then House of 1,000 Corpses is by all means for you.