Thursday, October 2, 2008
Night 2: House of a 1000 Corpses/Devil's Rejects
It's still early enough in my little experiment to survive a double feature, so I figured why the hell not. I had not found a good reason to watch either of these exploitation-era throwbacks by schlock-, I mean shock-rocker Rob Zombie, and probably never would otherwise, so carpe noctem, as the saying goes...
House of 1000 Corpses was completed in 2000, but not released until 2003 due to a protracted effort to secure it an R rating (NC-17 is a death knell at the box office) and find a distributor willing to put their name on it. Savvy marketers can twist such a dubious provenance into bold type proclamations like The Movie You Were Never Meant to See! or The Most Shocking Tale of Carnage Ever Seen!, as the eventual poster promised, but anyone without a cleaver in their gray matter knows better than to begin a screening of this film with anything but abysmal expectations. The same is not necessarily true of its sequel, released two years later, because certain, well-respected critics like Roger Ebert had given it a more or less positive endorsement. So I was interested to see how Zombie managed to get a lame duck to fly.
The sad truth is that he didn't. In my carefully considered opinion both of these films suck donkey dick. With equal gusto. Were it not for their cult status, I would be content to leave it at that, but the fact that there are actual people walking around with Captain Spaulding tattoos and using Otis as their online avatar forces me to figure out exactly where the attraction lies here.
Let's get one thing straight: Rob Zombie is a horror fan's horror fan. He knows his shit and looks the part. But what he has fashioned here is nothing more than a pair of mindless golems entirely comprised of limbs severed from other movies and a sewed-on head that is forever mouthing obscure, z-grade movie quips and clips. I dimly remember an episode of MTV's Cribs that I caught a while back (like maybe a decade ago) which showed his house to be chock-o-block with horror movie paraphrenalia: prosthetic limbs, vintage posters, cackling automatons, and literally thousands of other props. House of a 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects gave Zombie an excuse to vomit his entire collection all over the screen and then watch people pay to lick it up. No wonder he's always wearing that smug grin.
Are these movies scary? No. Not at all. Are they funny? Maybe in a "gee, look at that dirty old man scratch his ass" kind of a way. Which is to say, not very. Are they gory? I guess. But the effects are mediocre at best. What they have is a campy look and a loony energy, but you can't achieve real camp with this amount of self-awareness and all that loony energy goes nowhere. It's the same reason I thought Grindhouse failed, though at least those movies made me laugh and gasp at their manic glee.
I set out to prove great horror movies are still being made these days and so far I'm failing miserably. I have high hopes for tonight's selection, though, so don't give up on me yet.
Scorecard (out of ten skulls):
My psychological status:
irked, but still well-rested.