Monday, October 3, 2016

Introducing The Hipster Thrift Shop Horror Picture Show, or Thoughts on Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses

Audience expectation was high for writer and director Rob Zombie’s first movie, based on his personae and obvious affection for classic horror, carnivals and freak shows.  I wasn’t expecting much more than a 120-minute Dragula video.  House of 1000 Corpses (2003) succeeds as an atmospheric splatter-fest that establishes Rob Zombie’s themes as a director: retro horror nostalgia, Tarantino inspired dialogue and violence levels, and grainy 16mm film stock interspersed with black and white TV clips of classic horror movies. 
However, House of 1000 Corpses (2003) is far less interested in the supernatural and more about the family of psycho cannibal serial killers, another consistent theme Rob Zombie would continue to explore.  The plot is nothing special; a group of college kids on a road trip break down and seek shelter in a creepy house inhabited by a creepier family.  Instead, the movie is a showcase for the impressive cast Rob Zombie assembled and the performances he got from them.  Everyone’s enjoying themselves, gleefully delivering their ridiculous lines and fully committed to their characters, and it shows on film.  That kind of chemistry is precious on film, and almost unheard of in a retro-grindhouse gore-palooza.
House of 1000 Corpses features a pre-Scranton Rainn Wilson in an early film role as Bill Hudley, and and Chris Harwick from The Talking Dead and Talking Bad as Jerry Goldsmith, the unfortunate hipsters.  Sid Haig from classic TV shows including Batman, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, Gun Smoke and Fantasy Island and also the Pam Grier classics Black Mama, White Mama (1972), Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974) plays Captain Spaulding, the evil clown.   Karen Black from Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Great Gatsby (1973), Trilogy of Terror (1975) and Alfred Hitchcock’s last film Family Plot (1975) is Mother Firefly and Bill Moseley from The Blob remake (1988) and also the Night of The Living Dead remake (1990, with Tony Todd as Ben) plays Otis Driftwood.  Additionally Dennis Fimple from M*A*S*H*, Knight Rider, and King Kong (1976) portrays Grandpa Hugo in his final role.
The movie will be most remembered for the introduction of who would become Rob Zombie’s Lisa Marie/Helena Bonham Carter, Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby Firefly, the original homicidal maniac pixie dream girl.  Her stripper cowboy personae and cartoon Betty Boop voice is both vulnerable and predatory, pretty poison hiding in a bedroom full of dead cheerleaders.
With more in common with the John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Bettie Page than The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Rob Zombie would also go on to direct his own variation of Michael Myers with his Halloween (2007) reboot.  Watch out for the brilliant Walton Goggins in an early role as Steve Naish, an unlucky deputy.

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).