House of 1000 Corpses (1976) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

House of 1000 Corpses is Rob Zombie's long-delayed homage to the nastiest splatterfest movies ever made, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and some of the Herschell Gordon Lewis flicks. A group of condescending college kids end up in the hands of a bunch of inbred, insane, murderous freaks. The latter proceed to tear the former to bits. Rinse, repeat if necessary.

The film starts off with some offbeat style and humor. The first ten minutes are pretty funny, as the mandatory innocent kids visit a cheesy, macabre roadside attraction and ride the ghost train in a murder museum. The proprietor of the museum, a foul-mouthed clown played by Sid Haig, tells them about a local legend. The kids think it sounds really cool and have to check it out. That turns out to be a bad idea because the legend is true and they get dismembered, buried alive, skinned, tortured ... well, you get the idea.

By showing the cheesy false horror of the ghost train, the director is holding his nose and saying - my movie is not going to be like this, nosireebob. And then he proceeds to pull out all the stops. If the film has a hook, it is that it holds back nothing. Whatever grotesque mutilation can be imagined is actually portrayed on camera, and there isn't a lot of humor in the gore. It's just designed to shock with explicit, graphic, grotesque details.

NUDITY REPORT

Sheri Moon shows bits of her breasts (no nipple) and almost all of her bum in a thong.

About a half dozen of the thousand corpses are topless women. The only one specifically identified is Karen Murphy.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

I don't like this kind of entertainment, and most of you will share my distaste, but I noticed that it had pretty good reactions from the rating sites, a 3.5/4 from Arrow in the Head, and made quite a good profit. Obviously this genre has an audience. The film pulled in twelve million at the box despite a low budget, poor reviews, and distribution to no more than 850 screens. A sequel is already in the works, and the tentative plans call for a near-blockbuster 2,500 screen blitz for the second one.

Two distributors passed on this film before Zombie managed to get it to the public, but what can I tell you? When he got it out there, it sold

The Critics Vote

  • No consensus. It received every score from 0 stars to 3.5 stars.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.6/10. Yahoo voters call it a B.
  • It grossed $12 million dollars on a seven million dollar budget. When the last revenue stream is totaled, it will make quite a bit of money.

 

Special Scoopy awards for excellence in criticism go to:

Order of merit in style: Alex Pappademas of The Village Voice. Straining to put his own stamp on this stale-from-the-crypt material, Zombie falls back on the twitchy visual grammar of his videos, splicing in dream sequences and grainy porno-snippets apparently purchased at Bob Crane's estate sale. The violence eventually becomes more inhuman than human, but even the film's goriest set pieces feel pine-box wooden.

Order of merit in accuracy:  Dan Fienberg of L.A. Weekly. Zombie wants his film to be gleefully demented, but he fails to grasp that loud, inbred evil people torturing stupid, grating benign people isnít disturbing as much as tedious

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C- movie by our rating system. Almost all critics dismissed it as a joyless, brainless, self-indulgent splatterfest. I'm sure its defenders would respond "well, duh! That's the genre dude!" If you are into brainless splatterfests with some style and a small touch of grotesque humor, this could be a favorite. For most people, stay away. You'll just think it is deeply disturbed shit.

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