Rob Zombie’s directorial debut. In the late 70s, four road-tripping college-age kids visit “Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters & Madmen.” Sid Haig plays Spaulding as a combination carnival barker and clown, with a memorable mix of crass humor and menace. When the kids inquire about the local legend of Dr. Satan, Spaulding directs them to a local house where they encounter an all-too-real demented family.
Zombie’s aesthetic mixes 70s grindhouse exploitation with late-90s MTV. I enjoyed the grindhouse influences. A funeral procession shot evokes Italian and Spanish horror. The demented family echoes Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Indeed, Chainsaw and its sequel prove the biggest influences, with Zombie’s film landing somewhere between the pair in terms of tone. Also like Chainsaw, the film proves nowhere near as gory as its lurid title would imply.
Perhaps I’m being too apologetic. I could have done without the MTV influences. The interstitial 16mm sequences proffer a music video aesthetic that lends an amateurish feel. And the kids—the women in particular—felt interchangeable.
But I’m inclined to forgive when a film shares my tastes. House of 1,000 Corpses isn’t perfect, but I enjoyed the throwback sensibilities and Zombie’s clear fondness for the genre.