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Rob Zombie
Karen Black, Walton Goggins, Sid Haig, Bill Mosely, Rainn Wilson
Writing Credits:
Rob Zombie

The most shocking tale of carnage ever seen!

Two young couples take a misguided tour onto the back roads of America in search of a local legend known as Dr. Satan. Lost and stranded, they are set upon by a bizarre family of psychotics. Murder, cannibalism and satanic rituals are just a few of the 1000+ horrors that await.

Box Office:
Budget $7 million.
Opening Weekend:
$3.460 million on 595 screens.
Domestic Gross:
$12.583 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio (as reviewed):
English 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles (as reviewed):
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 8/12/2003

Bonus (as reviewed):
• None

Search Titles:

TV - Mitsubishi CS-32310 32"; Subwoofer - JBL PB12; DVD Player - Toshiba SD-4700; Receiver - Sony STR-DE845; Center - Polk Audio CS175i; Front Channels - Polk Audio; Rear Channels - Polk Audio.


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House Of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Reviewed by David Williams (September 12, 2003)

The long awaited directorial debut of metal madman Rob Zombie came in with a roar and exited with a whimper. As educated as they come on the history of the true, blood-and-guts horror genre, Zombieís House of 1000 Corpses was created with good intentions. His ultimate goal was to revitalize the genre Ė to rid the big screen of teenie bopper flicks like Scream and Jeepers Creepers - and return the horror genre back to its glory (or is it gory?) days. Unfortunately for audiences, Zombieís flick contains plenty of gore, but little in the way of true suspense, tension, or terror.

The story, such as it is, introduces us two guys, Jerry and Bill (Chris Hardwick and Rainn Wilson), and their girlfriends, Denise and Mary (Erin Daniels and Jennifer Jostyn), and theyíre working on a book the compiles some of Americaís most unique roadside attractions all in one handy guide. While driving around one night, the group makes a pit stop at Captain Spauldingís Museum of Monsters and Madmen - featuring fried chicken and gasoline. The group meets the clown faced proprietor of the place, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), and he introduces them to some of the local deviants and sickos from the surrounding area. Getting off on some of the crazy stories the group hears, when Spaulding tells the kids about ďDr. SatanĒ, itís just too much for them to take and they head out to find him.

The rest of the film is pretty easy to figure out as the two couples soon find themselves trapped in Dr. Satanís farmhouse and are slowly tortured, sliced, diced, and dismembered by the local psychotic kinfolk that inhabit the place. Blood, screaming, guts, screaming, gore Ö and more screaming follow in short order and the vast majority of the movie seems to exist only for the sake of trying to disgust its viewers.

House of 1000 Corpses sat on Universalís shelf for a few years and gathered dust Ė unfortunately, it seems to have been for good reason. Lionís Gate picked up the rights to the film and decided to distribute it to North American theaters when it might have been better served going straight-to-video and saving Lionís Gate the ďlionís shareĒ of marketing and distribution costs. However, with all of its faults, Zombie does a pretty good job of paying homage to the mindless and gory slasher flicks of the 70ís like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left. At the end of the day, Zombie wasnít really making this film for critics anyway Ė he was making it for hardcore fans of B-grade horror flicks who will get a kick out of Corpses regardless of what the majority of the movie-going public thinks.

For a film that was so eagerly anticipated, itís still very hard to recommend this film to others than the aforementioned horror fans. Fans of the band White Zombie and its founder (now a solo artist), Rob Zombie, have been anticipating this film for over a decade Ė at least since the conception of the band Ė and with Zombieís horror-themed videos and obscure audio clips mixed into his songs, it seemed that a full-length feature would be a natural fit. Unfortunately, it wasnít and Zombie needs to go back to the drawing board to come up with something a bit more interesting and engaging than House of 1000 Corpses.

I tried really hard to stretch the review out to more than a simple synopsis or capsule, but thereís just not much to say about the film itself. Itís not the worst Iíve seen and itís far from the best, but itís just so darn average I found very little to care about Ö or write about. My disappointment should be clear by now and I find it very hard to recommend to anyone other than full-fledged horror fans.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C- (as reviewed) / Bonus D (as reviewed)

House of 1000 Corpses receives a very well done anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer in the filmís theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Being such a recent film, the film and its corresponding master print are in fine shape and neither displayed any major issues or concerns.

The film uses a mixture of hand-held cameras and substandard film stock to create an intentionally grainy and rough look-and-feel that worked quite well for the material at hand. However, even with the gritty material, the film maintained a well-defined image that was rife with vibrant and bright colors that were properly balanced and contrasted at all times. Bleeding and smearing were never a problem and black levels were rock solid the vast majority of the time as well. The image contained nice shadow detail and delineation, with excellent depth and contrast throughout, and there were never any instances of murkiness or breakup detected.

Flaws were minor, but there was quite a bit of noise and haloing in certain parts of the film. Grain was noted, but since there was so much intentional grain, unintentional grain wasnít much of an issue anyway. A few flakes and speckles were noted on the print, but they were few and far between and definitely of the non-distracting variety. However, when itís all said and done, House of 1000 Corpses looked quite nice and Lionís Gate has done a nice job with the DVD transfer for home viewers.

Given that I was sent a screener to review, I was unfortunately only able to check out a Dolby 2.0 Stereo track for House of 1000 Corpses. That being the case, thereís really not a whole lot of praise I can heap on the transfer, as it sounded very dull and generic emanating from only my front left and right channels.

Frequency response was decent, but somewhat limited, considering the stereo nature of the track and separation seemed about the same. Low end and ambience were all but non-existent, but Zombieís very atmospheric and very cool score sounds quite nice considering the restricted stereo mix. Dialogue was well recorded and easily understood at all times Ė as was all of the screaming Ė and harshness or edginess were never detected.

The full retail version of the DVD contains a seemingly well-done Dolby Digital 5.1 track, an Isolated Music Score in Dolby 2.0 Stereo, as well as English and Spanish subtitles.

Since my copy of House of 1000 Corpses was only a screener, I didnít get the full roster of supplements that some of the other review sites received and all my copy contained were Trailers for House of 1000 Corpses, Shooters, Air Marshall, The Cremaster Cycle, Cabin Fever, Confidence, The Hard Word, Stevie, Godsend, Mondays in the Sun, and Sweet Sixteen.

However, other known supplements on the full disc include an Audio Commentary with Rob Zombie, as well as some behind-the-scenes vignettes which include, but arenít limited to, a Making Of Featurette, a Behind-The-Scenes Featurette, Casting, Rehearsals, and Interviews. However, since Lionís Gate only sent us a true screener copy (which Iím grateful for), I canít speak on their relevance or their level of interest for the viewer.

Anyone familiar with Rob Zombie or his music know that his love (and knowledge) of horror films runs quite deep. Considering that depth, Iíd have to say that House of 1000 Corpses was a disappointing foray into directing. On the flip side of the coin, I hope Zombie sticks with it, hones his craft, and gives feature films another go in the future Ė I feel confident that a much better sick and twisted film is just waiting to be hatched.

I canít really speak on the laurels of the actual retail version of the Lionís Gate DVD because I didnít actually get one myself, but from what Iíve seen elsewhere, Iím sure that fans of the film have already snatched up a copy. However, strictly based on what Iíve seen, a recommendation is hard to make and youíll have to look elsewhere for a more in-depth review. Sorry Ö

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.15 Stars Number of Votes: 40
4 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.