Author’s Note: All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.
Article written by Maggie K. Ward
Rob Zombie’s directorial debut, House of 1000 Corpses tells the story of a sadistic family, the Firefly’s, that hold a pair of couples hostage. Little does the audience know, this isn’t the Firefly’s first time holding people against their will and torturing them. The film draws heavy influence from 70’s exploitation films such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Clockwork Orange.
A pair of couples seeking off beat roadside attractions stop at a gas station that happens to be home of Captain Spaulding’s (Sid Haig) Museum of Monsters and Madmen. Bill (Rainn Wilson) informs Spaulding that they are writing a book about the strange attractions people see when they drive across the country. Captain Spaulding rudely responds by suggesting, “Y’all think us folks from the country real funny like!” He plays it off as a joke, yet this double sided strange humor is a common characteristic to the man in clown paint.
The museum/ gas station has a nifty little ride that features varies serial killers such as Albert Fish, Ed Gein, and a local “hero,” Dr. Satan. The doctor was an intern at local mental hospital and thought he could create a race of super humans from the mentally ill. He was hung from a tree that just so happens to be down the street, but his body disappeared and no ones seen him since.
In search of Dr. Satan’s hanging tree, the group come across a hitchhiker: Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie). They pick her up and ask her were the tree is and, of course, it happens to be right by her house. Anyone else see the connection? Connect the dots even further: the group gets a flat tire and Baby informs them that her brother drive a tow truck.
The group is taken to Baby’s house where they meet Mother Firefly (Karen Black) in an eccentric outfit with a pink feature boa. The group not so subtly makes fun of her. They aren’t very polite. After all, these people took them into their home and are helping them with their flat tire, yet they repay them with crude jokes and thanklessness. Mary (Jennifer Jostyn) especially rubs me the wrong way. Frankly, she’s a b*tch. Now, do these kids get what’s coming to them? No, not really. But they certainly don’t help their case treating the Firefly’s like they’re the crazy lunatics they really are…
Mother Firefly invites the group to dinner where they meet the rest of the strange family. Halloween costumes and masks are a necessity for tonight’s meal. Halfway through dinner, the group is joined by Otis (Bill Moseley) and a dead fetus in a jar. Yum. The movie just gets stranger and stranger as it dives deeper into the Firefly lifestyle.
Showtime! Seriously, everyone gets up from dinner and the Firefly’s put on a show. That’s tandom and bizarre. Grampa (Dennis Fimple) tells dirty jokes, and then Babys comes out in costume to sing “I Wanna Be Loved By You.” The editing during this song is really interesting. Shots are shown simultaneously of Baby singing and the group’s individual reactions to her performance. I’ve seen this before. Most notably in Carrie (1976) when she kills everybody at prom. Mary finally snaps and Baby pulls a knife on her.
On their way out, they are viciously attacked by a couple of the Fireflys. Bill is slowly torture by Otis while Baby dances and laughs. Otis then creates a work of art, Fish Boy, out of the nasty remains. I have to say, this is absolutely disgusting, yet kind of neat.
Frank Ifield’s “I Remember You” is an upbeat love song from the 60s. This song plays when cops discover a shed full of dead, mangled, female bodies. The scene is so terrifying, the song helps tone it down. The scene is even played in slow motion to mimic the dumb shock the cops must feel when they discover all the dead girls. Have you ever been in a car crush and everything seemed to slow down? It’s the same effect, but with brutally torture bodies and an immense feeling of uselessness
The large majority of the torture scenes are grainy with a strange discoloration to them. This was done to make the torturous act seem even more surreal, and pull the viewers away from the terrifying experience of watching someone get tortured. Of course, nowadays we’re so used to torture in our horror films. Nice try Zombie. It’s good of you to be courteous to your viewers. But, House of 1000 Corpses did come out before the big torture porn craze.
The sickest part of the film, in my opinion, is Otis’ Halloween costume. Who’s your daddy? He skins the girl’s dad and wears him like a costume. It gets better. He sticks his tough through dad’s mouth and attempts to suck face with his daughter. Yuck. This scene just gives me the wigs.
This movie is probably one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen (second only to Army of Darkness I think). The Firefly family is seriously screwed up. Baby is a sick twisted monster that can’t decide if she wants to be a child or a slut, and she gets off on killing people. Otis is tyrant that physically takes out his anger on helpless victims. I wouldn’t recommend this movie for everyone. I enjoyed it more than the sequel The Devil’s Rejects, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. If you like explicitly violent movies, add this one to your list if you haven’t seen it yet.
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