Friday, October 26, 2012

Psychobabble's 150 Essential Horror Movies: Addition 26

Every day this October, I'll be adding a film to Psychobabble's 120 Essential Horror Movies to bring the list up to 150. Today’s addition is:

134. House of 1,000 Corpses (2003- dir. Rob Zombie)

Boy oh boy, did critics loathe House of 1,000 Corpses when it was finally released in 2003 after three years in limbo. There’s really no mystery why it is so hated by reviewers (as of this writing, it has a 17% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.com) and so loved by the cult it has earned. The script is abysmal, like something written by a nine-year-old who thinks idiotic lines like “Little Dick Wick, played with his prick, don't his smell just make you sick?” might pass for wit. The performances are mostly grating. The editing is a mess. There is a complete absence of logic in the “plot.” It’s as if Rock star Rob Zombie understood it was unlikely he’d ever get the opportunity to make another picture, so he cluttered all of his ideas into this one. And that’s where House of 1,000 Corpses slithers away from the critics and stalks toward the cultists. The film is a pop-culture fever dream, a mosaic of 70 years of Horror cinema. Taken as a whole, it is incomprehensible. Within that whole are shards of ‘30s monster movies, ‘50s T.V. horror hosts, ‘70s grind house, and ‘80s slasher flicks. There are bits and pieces pulled from childhood Trick-or-Treating adventures, Beistle Halloween decorations, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, E.C. Comics, creepy Max Fleisher cartoons, cheapo spook houses, Alice in Wonderland, ghost stories, urban legends, and nightmares. Juvenile references to a Dr. Zaius doll and Disney socks are here simply to stimulate the viewer’s juvenile nostalgia zone, creating an experience that can’t quite be explained but resonates deep within anyone like Zombie who grew up in the ‘70s consuming a steady, sugary diet of “Groovie Goolies” cartoons and late night showings of House of Frankenstein on local T.V. House of 1,000 Corpses is a drooling love letter to Horror written by a super-fan so awed by the genre he can barely put together a coherent sentence. Just the kind of thing critics don’t understand but horror cultists cherish.  

See this piece in context as part of Psychobabble’s Essential Horror Movies of the 2000s here.
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