House of 1000 Corpses (2003) Review: Music Video Horror

“You’ll never get out alive”

Synopsis: Two young couples traveling across the backwoods of Texas searching for urban legends of murder end up as prisoners of a bizarre and sadistic backwater family of serial killers.

House of 1000 Corpses (2003) Review Poster
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Calamity Brains:

Rob Zombie is not among my favorite directors, and the music video style of House of 1000 Corpses does nothing to change that.

Most of the movie feels forced. Though the initial situation is fairly standard for horror flicks – teens (Rainn Wilson, Erin Daniels, Chris Hardwick, Jennifer Jostyn) traveling cross-country run into trouble – House of 1000 Corpses quickly bypasses even the usual level of banality in slashers. The entire movie is designed more to shock than to tell a story; deaths and torture are over-the-top for no seemingly no reason, and the camera lingers on grotesque tableaus (and the breasts of corpses) a little too long, as though showing off. The entire thing is meant to provoke a visceral reaction in the audience, but there’s no justification for that desire.

Between the stylistic flourishes and the lack of plot, there’s not much you can get attached to in House of 1000 Corpses. Don’t get me wrong – I generally enjoy artsy attempts by filmmakers. But there has to be a reason for them or a point to them. Rob Zombie’s music video splices don’t further the story or underscore a metaphor; the audience gains no new knowledge from watching Sheri Moon dance in a grainy film clip. Like the gore, it feels forced and unnecessary.

If you are squeamish and like being grossly titillated, maybe you’ll find some fun in this movie. But with little to no character development or story, it’s hard to get into House of 1000 Corpses, even with interestingly quirky performances from Sid Haig and Sheri Moon. Again and again, I was left wondering what the point was of anything I just saw. Mostly, House of 1000 Corpses feels to me like something an attention-starved teen would make for film class, and not an actual worthwhile movie. Consider your horror preferences carefully before watching this one if you must, but I can’t recommend it.

Calamity Brains’ Rating: C
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Calamity Brains

The Codex Mortis Horror Hosts (Ludwig von Stroodle and Calamity Brains) are married and live in West Virginia. Pretty much everyone who sees their cabin agrees that it would be an ideal setting for a horror movie. Their pets include a black widow spider, a smart dog, and a stupid dog. When they aren’t watching horror movies, they can be found at whiskey festivals, Renaissance fairs, and board game nights.

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