Throwback Review: Zombie Brings 70’s Exploitation Horror Back with House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects

Shock metal superstar Rob Zombie’s affectionately gore-filled tribute to 1970s horror films follows four young people whose stop at a roadside gas station/fried chicken stand/sideshow museum leads to their less-than-willing visit to the title mansion, where a family of bloodthirsty maniacs, mutants and assorted psychos dwells. Rainn Wilson, Sheri Moon, Bill Moseley, Karen Black, and Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding star. (Synopsis from www.amazon.com)

I love this movie. With amazing casting (Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding and Bill Moseley as Otis B. Driftwood create an amazing and terrifying atmosphere, with a subset of grim humor), inventive filming, and an intriguing plot, House of 1000 Corpses is a fresh take on the horror genre, returning us to films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.

Our four victims…I mean…our four young college age people (who may not be the easiest beings to feel sympathetic for) are travelling the country looking for roadside oddities and placing their impressions and pictures into a travel book. During their trip, they encounter Captain Spaulding’s gas station/museum of oddities that include shrunken heads, fish people, etc. The gas station also has a serial killer ride that Captain Spaulding acts as the narrator. The crowning exhibit is Doctor Satan, a local serial killer/doctor of murder. Spaulding tells the 4 about the tree where Dr. Satan was hung and provides them with directions.

On their way to the Hanging Tree, the group pick up a hitchhiker (played by Sherri Moon Zombie) who, after a series of unforseeable events, directs the group to her family’s home where they all become familiar with Otis, Mother FireFly, RJ, Tiny, Grandpa, Baby, and more. The group learns that they are not in a safe haven from the storm, but they have walked willingly into a nest of some of the most bloodthirsty folks ever to have haunted legends. They are now the guests, and soon to the victims, of the Firefly clan.

While watching the movie, I was amazed with the level of detail that is contained in the props. During an interview, Rob Zombie said that he aimed for perfect shots so all of the scenery had to be perfect. Whether it was the total number of skulls in a wall of bones to the wear and tear of the young people’s clothes, Rob fleshed out everything that could make a cohesive filming experience. The filming was brilliant.

While I am a huge fan of this movie, I do have to admit that there are some plot holes, but that is expected when you consider this is the freshman attempt at filming for Zombie. The filming, acting, gore, and presence of the film more than compensate for the small gaps in the plot.

All of the music of the film was provided and performed by Rob Zombie which definitely added to the feel of the film. If you have ever watched a Rob Zombie video, you will recognize the feel of this movie. It’s almost like a compilation of all of his videos, but you add in more gore and an intriguing tale. Inventive death scenes, creepy dialogue, and truly creepy characters make this film a treat for horror fans. If you haven’t checked it out, you are letting yourself down.

Check out the trailer here:

 

 

 Sequel to ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ is set some months later with the Texas State Police making a full-scale attack against the murderous Firefly family residence for the 1,000+ murders and disappearances of the past several years. But three of the family members escape, including Otis, Baby Firefly and Baby’s father Captain Spaulding. The evil trio go on a road trip, leaving dozens of mangled bodies in their wake. Evading a massive Texas Rangers dragnet as well as a group of equally murderous bounty hunters led by Ken Dwyer (the brother of a policeman Mamma Firefly killed in ‘House of…’) who’s obsessed with finding the deadly killers, the surviving Firefly clan gather at a run-down amusement park owned by Captain Spaulding’s half-brother, Charlie Altamont, whom offers them shelter and a new base of operations for their killing spree as Sheriff Dwyer, the Texas Rangers, the FBI and others slowly close in. (Written by Matt Patay , www.amazon.com)

As much as I loved the first movie, I enjoyed the sequel even more. While it is relatively light on pure horror, it is derived even more from 70’s exploitation films, with a plethora of gore, action, and depraved behavior.  The horror is communicated by making the killers in this film feel familiar, yet they are the ones committing gruesome atrocities and horrors on their victims. The crowning touch is when Otis cuts off a guy’s face and makes his wife wear it.

While the synopsis does an excellent job of explaining the film, it does miss one thing. One of the reasons that this film has become a “hate it or love it” type of film is the conflicting feelings it gives to the viewers. I found myself feeling bad when our villians of the piece meet their end, but these are the people that murdered their way across Texas, submitting people to degrading acts before slaughtering them.

The music in this film is perfect. The ending sequence with “Freebird” playing in the background is one of the most fitting songs to a movie scene that I have ever had the privilege of viewing. Also, there were some very impressive scenes in the movie. At the beginning of the movie when the Texas Rangers are raiding the Firefly homestead, Otis, RJ, Baby, and Mother Firefly all put on steel masks. The imagery and the music make this an amazing introduction to the film.

 I recommend these two films to all horror fans. While they may not be perfect for everyone, no one can say that Rob Zombie is completely missing the boat when it comes to a future as a director. Impressive filming, effect use of music, and a strong plot are all evident in these films.

Watch the trailer for The Devil’s Rejects here: 

 

Posted on by PJ Carroll



  • Kathleencoluzzi

    Awesome review! Im going to keep an eye out for the little details in house 1000 corpse. Devil rejects was my favorite of the two also. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://lytherus.com PJ Carroll

    If you have the DVD with the director’s/actor’s comments, they talk about all of the lengths Rob went to to make the perfect shots. Pretty impressive. Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for the comment!

  • http://twitter.com/iamghostbait iamghostbait

    I’ve avoided these movies primarily because I expected the gore quotient to outweigh any of the story or characters but after reading through these reviews and checking out the Freebird sequence on YouTube, I think I might just be checking Netflix and ITunes for these for a scary Friday double feature.  Great writing and reviews.  Three Thumbs Up!

  • http://lytherus.com PJ Carroll

    Glad you enjoyed the reviews iamghostbait!!!