Tuesday, November 25, 2008

House Of 1000 Corpses

I’m not a huge fan of slasher films. I have enjoyed a few over the years, but for the most part, they don’t hold a huge appeal to me. There was a lot of buzz about Rob Zombie and his debut film House of 1,000 Corpses, but I hadn’t watched it. It was showing recently on Fearnet along with the sequel The Devil’s Rejects. Both had been nominated for some minor awards. I guess I was mostly drawn in by the hype and the fact that it wasn’t going to cost me anything to watch this film. It wasn’t particularly bad, but it wasn’t good enough for me to watch the sequel…free or not.

House of 1,000 Corpses tells the story of four teens that are traveling cross country and stop at a roadside gas and chicken stop that happens to have a museum of the macabre. Jerry (Chris Hardwick), Denise (Erin Daniels), Mary (Jennifer Jostyn) and Bill (Rainn Wilson) stop for gas and end up taking a ride in a haunted house attached to the gas station. The ride guide, Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) is perpetually dressed in clown makeup. He presents an eccentric appearance as he guides his guests through legend and folklore, including the local legend of Dr. Satan. The legend captures the attention of the testosterone laden guests, who end up determined to find out more about the legend. Captain Spaulding draws them a strip map so they can explore the legend on their own. After picking up a hitchhiker that bears a striking resemblance to the Director’s Daughter (Baby Firefly played by Sheri Moon Zombie), their plan goes awry. Flat tires and strange locals end up being bad for their health. The gore factor kicks in exponentially from this point on, making one wonder if any of the kids will survive.

Slashers generally lack a plot. House of 1,000 Corpses is really no different. During a road trip, several teenagers take a detour to investigate a local legend resulting in a bloodbath. That’s pretty much the plot. House of 1,000 Corpses had decent dialogue, but I wasn’t buying into the concept of the film, so it didn’t captivate my attention the way a Suspense film would. The characters were unique, eccentric and violent. A strange combination of characteristics that made this film original if nothing else. But originality wasn’t enough to make me enjoy this film. The lack of structure and pointlessness of the entire exercise bored me. Like many other slashers, the plot ends up becoming “we got into something over our heads and now there is no way out” and then watching to see who the sole survivor is going to be, if there is one. I really didn’t care enough about any of the characters to care too much one way or the other.

The casting was par for the course for this genre, too. Haig has a rather odd character that was a tiny bit convincing, but he was about the only bright spot for me. The acting seemed very staged and campy. It was very much like every other bad horror flick I have ever seen. Sheri Moon Zombie was attractive, but very unconvincing. Wilson was okay in a likeable nerdy sort of way, but his role didn’t last very long. Hardwick got on my nerves from the very beginning of the movie. He is a large part of the reason the kids end up in over their heads, so he has to convince everyone to go along with him. Rather than seeming convincing, his performance seems whiney. His attempts at exuberance feel more like a trip to the Dentist. Daniels and Jostyn did not have much to offer, either. Their performances were predictable and lifeless. The lack of credibility in the cast made the implausible script even harder to swallow. I really did not care for the actors, with the slight exception of Haig.

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