The 1000 Blows
Film review by: Witney Seibold
Hoo boy. Where to start? Let’s start with Rob Zombie. Heavy metal man, animator, and aficionado of “The Munsters.” Lover of Bettie Page bondage pictures, schlocky late-night horror serials and filmmakers like Hershell Gordon Lewis (director of “The Wizard of Gore” and “Two-thousand Maniacs”). Now this man has directed a film for himself. That film is “House of 1000 Corpses,” and it’s everything you’d hope it would be, right up to and including the sadistic blood-soaked cyborg named Dr. Satan. It’s up to you to determine whether or not that is positive.
Since there really is no story to the proceedings (O.k. I’ll do my best: twentysomethings arrive at spooky house, meet local eccentrics, eccentrics torture and kill them. There. Done.), I’ll list the many elements in this film to give you a good idea of what to expect, had you not already gleaned that from the title:
– A spooky roadside attraction run by a murderous clown (Sid Haig)
– An eight-foot-tall mute covered in scar tissue
– A man’s dead torso being sewed onto a fish,
– Swamp zombies
– Being forced to dress in bunny costumes
– Bruised and bound cheerleaders
– The wearing of human skin
– The mysterious legend of Dr. Satan
– Scream queen Karen Black as a busty psychopath
– Characters with names like “Mother Firefly,” and “Skunk Ape Wife”
– Best of all, a version of The Commodores’ “Brick House” sung by Rob Zombie himself and Lionel Richie.
Did I enjoy this film? Well, I certainly appreciated the myriad homages Mr. Zombie sprinkled throughout. I recognized the sources he was imitating. He pays homage to the gory, pulpy, and shamelessly trashy cult films from the darker trenches of American film. MTV edits notwithstanding, the film feels a lot like a Z-grade cult film from Mario Bava, Ted V. Mikels, or the immortal Lewis himself. That it achieves a non-transcendent, raw, visceral form of pure trash is the film’s triumph. But is this enjoyable? Not quite. We horror fans and readers of Fangoria magazine can appreciate the film’s world, but there’s simply not enough cohesion to make a good film. Sure, the gorehounds will likely be calling this a modern classic on a few years, but it’s not. Zombie might want to take anther look at “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and then decide how to squeeze his cyborgs, psychos, monsters, and bunny suits into that already better-done filth nightmare.