Early on in Rob Zombie’s House Of 1000 Corpses, his victims go on a Murder Ride at a local gas stop, but it’s the audience who are on the ride, and it’s a hellish experience.
I have very mixed views on 1000 Corpses, both admiring Zombie’s cut-and-paste trashy homage to the horror flicks of his youth and also finding it uncomfortably brutal and often just nasty viewing.
It may be relatively mild in gore when compared to the torture porn films that followed it, but it’s still not something for the sensitive to put themself through.
That murder ride at Captain Spaulding’s gas stop really does represent the film as a whole, with the kids getting pushed around the tacky museum of death and horror while Spaulding (or Zombie) ghoulishly cackles at their reactions, hamming it up.
That’s very much the role Zombie plays as director in what is almost an extended music video, full of flashing images, movie clips and very much playing out like a White Zombie song would do if it was a film.
Or, put another way, like Natural Born Killers, a film that is very similar in style, but has a bit more flair and a lot more to say about the world. 1000 Corpses doesn’t really have anything to say, other than ‘hey, isn’t this cool?’.
But is there anything wrong with that? Not everything has to be social commentary, and generally the acting and direction here are much better than you expect from a trashy slasher film. And while the imagery may be largely stolen, it’s still done with the enthusiasm of a fanboy and that’s infectious.
With Sid Haig, Walt Goggins and Rainn Wilson amongst the cast, there’s genuine quality in there, while Zombie is spot-on with his musical choices throughout, as you’d expect.
The sets are colourful and exuberant, from the gas stop to the Firefly mansion to the nightmarish underground world of zombies and mad doctors, and the whole thing is a dark celebration of Americana gone bad.
And that’s why I have a soft spot for it. I very much enjoy Zombie’s music and House Of 1000 Corpses is totally made of the same stuff. So while I may not be able to enjoy the gleeful violence and horror as much as I used to when I was younger (and not a father), I can still find a lot to like in this trashy schlock-fest.