Reading this entry over at The Horror Effect yesterday disheartened me. You see, I love Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses. It took me awhile to really warm to it, I've always liked it, but my appreciation grows with each revisit. It's exactly what I expected from Zombie considering his music, but not his bland solo career, this era:
Actually that should be 1984ish-1995 but whose counting, right? Anyway, understanding White Zombie the band helps vastly in the understanding Ho1kC, at least to hardened horror junkies. I can't vouch for Zombie's other films, especially Halloween and presumably H2. Lord knows what they are. Though 1000 Corpses is deeply set in the religion of good ol' fashioned WZ.
I didn't buy the hype. You know, that shit about "most shocking ever" and "the film they didn't want you to see." Those lines work in the flick's exploiter marketing tinkerings, but I knew Zombie wasn't going to come barreling out of the film gate to suddenly exhibit the maverick style of a Van Bebber. I honestly believe Zombie approached the project (at least initially) as something to fuck around with. This seems to be big stumbling block for some people (and Universal Studios) expecting a serious "return of true horror" as the marketing billed it. Actually, dare I say it is.
Zombie's movie influences in Corpses, just like WZ's music, are inked in blazing neon onto its tattoo sleeve. At the same time, his manic screen patchwork debut never quite feels like a rip-off of superior genre works of the past. This is what makes Corpses intriguing in that it is a return to true horror, just not the breed of horror most desired to return. The film feels nestled right in with the backwash after the earthquake that was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Not quite in the slasher era, as horror just seemed to lurch around in dubious quickies propped up to turn a buck with lurid campaigns. I can respect that and Corpses could have been stuck right in with an S.F. Brownrigg masterpiece as a midnight double feature at the $1 drive-in at the outer brink of the '70s.
This is where the WZ-influence comes in heavy with Zombie's "eye for horror" both on-screen and metal never focusing on "the greats" despite being enamored with them. Sorta like your seasoned horror fan spending most of their time digging up crap in search of gold that shines like the universally heralded classics. Of course, 98% of the time, we get 90 minutes stolen from us. Corpses and White Zombie in their own faded kid spook mask way celebrates this quirk and everything we love about the kitschy side of Horror fandom, but his film isn't and never set out to be a thoroughbred, but being a lovable mutt can still bring condemnation among some...