DVD REVIEW: House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Hey! Welcome to another week-long series at mikeladano.com!  This time, the theme is Rockin’ Movies.  Each movie we take a look at this week will have a significant connection to rock music.  Enjoy!

HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003 Universal)

Directed by Rob Zombie

I’m generally not a horror movie guy, although I grew up on all the cheesy classics in the 1980’s. I thought I just outgrew the genre. Then my buddy Thuss implored me to see Rob Zombie’s House Of 1,000 Corpses.

Anchored by Zombie’s uncommon visual stylings and eclectic tastes, this House is rocking, don’t bother knocking. The setup:  An ill-fated foursome of young men and ladies are travelling cross country. They stop for gas and chicken at Captain Spaulding’s “Museum of Monsters & Madmen” (as played by the near-legendary Sid Haig). Spaulding is the best character written by Rob Zombie, both hilariously funny and mildly disturbing at the same time. Well, he’s a creepy clown. If you have a clown phobia, Spaulding’s the creepiest I’ve ever seen, but I can’t help but laugh every time he opens his sizable mouth.

Spaulding tips the kids (Rainn Wilson is the only “name” here) off to the creepy legend of “Dr. Satan”.  They then decide it’s a good idea to go hunting for Dr. Satan’s hanging tree in the middle of the night. In the rain. It is then that they meet the beautifully disordered Baby Firefly (Sherri Moon Zombie)…and get a flat tire. Things only go downhill for the young ones from there, as I’m sure you can imagine. Baby invites our young travelers to her family’s farm, where her brother can surely fix their flat tire.

Special mention must go to out to Bill Mosely who is terrifyingly unstable as the most amoral member of the Firefly family, Otis B. Driftwood. He only gets more interesting as a character in the sequel, The Devil’s Rejects…but that is another review.

Some horror purists can’t get into Zombie’s style. Indeed, he has a unique vision as any fan of his will know. If you like oddly proportioned monsters and robots, just go see him in concert. Zombie also likes to populate his films with 70’s southern stereotypes. Indeed, one would argue that the movie has no actual characters, just character types. That’s the kind of horror movie that I remember growing up with, and I believe his films pay homage to that very well. He also had a practical reason for setting his movies in the 1970’s.  No cellphones.  No-one to call for help.  No GPS. No way to call AAA and get a tire changed.  Isolation.

House of 1,000 Corpses is a visually disturbing film, and that’s one reason I can’t stop watching it. Other horror films are simply cheese-fests. Not this one. There are gallons of blood, body parts, and a couple monsters too, but all presented in a surreal nightmare setting that might have you avoiding country roads at night. Zombie went in a completely different direction in the next movie, so House of 1000 Corpses remains the “weird” chapter in this series.

Will there be justice on the Fireflys? Tune in tomorrow for my review of The Devil’s Rejects.

4/5 stars and 2 severed hands.

Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding
Bill Moseley as Otis B. Driftwood
Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby Firefly
Karen Black as Mother Firefly
Rainn Wilson as Bill Hudley
Tom Towles as Lieutenant George Wydell
Matthew McGrory as Tiny Firefly
Robert Mukes as Rufus “RJ” Firefly Jr
Dennis Fimple as Grampa Hugo Firefly


    1. You are indeed on record. And it’s fine if you want to talk about the why’s and wherefores, I won’t be offended. And it’s fine if you don’t, too! I’m pleased that people have differing views on this one (and tomorrow’s too most likely).


  1. I’ve only seen this once a few years ago. I thought it was ok, didn’t have much opinion on it one way or the other. I don’t have so much to say about movies compared to music but I like the posts!


  2. Dont forget Chris Hardwick as the loudmouth of the foursome, pre-Nerdist. Almost completely unrecognizable.

    as to the flick, it’ll always be in my collection… I unabashedly love it, warts and all. I think a lot of the disjointedness and spastic feel that throw people off so much may be due to the development hell it spent so long in. Rumour has it that the original cut of the flick was so twisted and graphic, that it couldn’t get anything other than a xxx/ao rating (or just couldn’t get any rating at all is something else I’ve heard)… And with that the studio had the whole thing cut and re-cut to what we have now. The original cut and all the cut footage is long gone and lost too, even Rob himself doesn’t have any.


    1. Who’s Chris Hardwick? (Seriously, I know he’s one of the four, but I have never heard of him.)

      Anyway thanks for the comment Rainman! I did NOT know about the limbo this movie was in. It doesn’t surprise me. Rob Zombie strikes me as having very few boundaries, if any.


      1. He’s a standup comic, internet and tv personality. Before 1000 corpses he was the host on mtv’s singled out and shipmates shows. We know of him at first from g4tv where he was on attack off the show and had his web soup show. You might know him from The Talking Dead, which is the walking dead after show on AMC. Nerdist.com and the nerdist YouTube channel are loaded with stuff if you’re looking for a laugh


        1. Hah! Well there you go. I had no idea. I am not familiar with a single one of those shows!

          Anyway the Devil’s Rejects review went up today so check ‘er out!


  3. I didn’t care much for this one. I think I was one of the only of my friend who felt that way too. It’s like it was sacrilege to not like something Rob Zombie had done, but I’m not a huge fan of him as a director.


        1. The second one was so bad. I wrote a review for it years ago, maybe I’ll post it here. Its only redeeming quality was a cameo by Weird Al as himself.

          I liked the first one. I’m not a Halloween purist though.


      1. Nah, it just has the feel of something that was self-consciously made to be weird; rather than something that just ended up being really weird – like original ‘Chansaw Massacre’.

        It’s not bad, just not great.


        1. Self consciously made to be weird — I agree. I thought so right from the first 10 minutes, when Captain Spaulding’s two homicidal midget employees start drawing blood. I figured, “OK, well it’s a Zombie headspace then,” and carried on.


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