Rob Zombie’s first venture into filmmaking is a dark and bloody collage paying homage to hammer horror, freakshows and in particular 70’s and early 80’s slasher flicks. It has had a lot of hype surrounding it ever since he announced it over four years ago, particularly from White Zombie fans. Unfortunately the finished product, considering his great influences, has turned out to be somewhat of a letdown.The plot is incredibly similar to that of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (a film Zombie obviously loves); a group of friends travelling across the backwoods of America pick up a hitchhiker who leads them to a house of horrors owned by a family of murderous redneck freaks that want nothing more than to chop them up into pieces before daybreak. Admittedly it does go on a different tangent after a while but it hard to ignore the comparisons.
House of 1000 Corpses was never going to be slick, big budget, money making affair so it is no surprise that it was plagued with distribution problems from the very beginning. Has it been worth the wait? Well, yes and no. House of 1000 Corpses is bursting with a go for broke and enthusiastic style of filmmaking that is rarely seen in horror nowadays. It also does not contain any CGI and instead relies on old school make up techniques (lots of latex and buckets of fake blood) which, as far as gore is concerned, is always more realistic than what a computer can create yet. But it is thin on plot, the editing is cluttered and the acting is quite terrible (except for B movie stalwarts Karen Black and Sid Haig).
Other problems are that too often it plays out like a music video and there is an overuse of what look to be in camera effects. I doubt Mr Zombie would make any apologies and he need not as there is a definite place out there for this style of horror and some will rate it highly - I just think it has been done much better before. Had House of 1000 Corpse came out in the 70’s, it would have scared the hell out of audiences but Zombie needs to do a lot more to have an impact in this day and age.
Hopefully he has spent a bit more time on the plot for the sequel which has recently finished filming. In the meantime check out some of the classics that have influenced Mr Zombie here (the orginal Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes would be good starting points).Overall, House of 1000 Corpses serves as decent curiosity for fans of Rob Zombie and old school horror flicks that tries hard but just does not stack up to its contemporaries.