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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

REVIEW: Happy belated to Rob Zombie’s ‘House of 1000 Corpses’

Let’s raise a glass!
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Films

Hitting the theaters on April 11, 2003, Rob Zombie’s “House of 1000 Corpses” epitomizes slasher gore, and the movie has since gained the status of a cult-classic film. The 89-minute runtime of Zombie’s premier movie follows the serial-murderous, wickedly-twisted cult family named Firefly, whose names are inspired by Groucho Marx characters, whom Zombie was inspired by as a youth.

Zombie would later create “The Devil’s Rejects” and “3 From Hell,” which follow some of the same characters after the events of “House of 1000 Corpses.”

The initial cut’s violence and gore are borderline too much to handle. Initially, Universal Studios had to drop it before Lionsgate picked it up after cuts made by Zombie to warrant an R rating. Zombie crafted the movie in a way all horror fans can grasp and get into. There is subtle humor throughout that makes you wonder whether it is okay to chuckle.

In the movie’s opening minutes, we are met with a revolver blast to the back of the head by Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) while protecting his “Museum of Monsters” from a robbery.

Characters Bill (Rainn Wilson), Denise (Erin Daniels), Jerry (Chris Hardwick) and Mary (Jennifer Jostyn) stumble upon Captain Spaulding’s “Museum of Monsters” while exploring “offbeat roadside attractions in America’s less-traveled roads.” The group becomes fascinated by the legend of Dr. Satan (Walter Phelan). While in awe, Bill, Jerry, and Mary are brutally murdered by the Firefly family.

Bill is the first to die and is made into the “Fish Boy,” who will certainly make his way to Captain Spaulding’s “Museum of Monsters.” I found myself laughing at this point in the movie because of how well the sculpture was made in the presumed short time frame.

The Firefly family consists of Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis B. Driftwood (Bill Mosely), Tiny Firefly (Matthew McGrory), Mother Firefly (Karen Black), Rufus Firefly (Robert Mukes) and Grandpa Hugo (Dennis Fimple). Each one is simultaneously worse and better than the other.

Baby is a promiscuous, almost literal maneater; Otis is the reason we’re taught not to talk to strangers; Mother sees no wrong in her loved ones; Tiny is a “real lady killer” and isn’t so tiny; Rufus makes even Dwayne Johnson look small, and Grandpa Hugo is the funniest, unfunny comedian alive.

Don Willis (Harrison Young), Detective Wydell (Tom Towles) and Steve Naish (Walton Goggins) are sent to explore the Firefly house in the later parts of the movie, after Don (who is an ex-police officer) files a missing person’s report of his daughter and her friends. 

Steve and Don stumble upon Mary and the quintet of missing cheerleaders, who are all strung up in a shed. The officers meet their fate and die by the barrel of Otis, with Mother shooting Detective Wydell through the throat.

Denise eventually meets Dr. Satan face-to-face and escapes his office only to be picked up by Captain Spaulding who advises her to get some rest. Once her eyes shut, Otis appears and she wakes up in the operating chair of Dr. Satan.

Critics initially had mixed reviews of this movie. Some appreciated and grasped onto the sheer amount of violence, while some were repulsed and found it hard to watch.

I have never seen a movie that captures violence and gore to the extent of “House of 1000 Corpses.” You get a sense that this is real life, and the events could happen to anybody if they turn down the wrong road, or into the wrong neighborhood.

“House of 1000 Corpses” didn’t break any box-office records, only grossing $16.8 million, but it blows the head off of whoever watches with its wicked plot and characters, uncomfortable camera angles and cut scenes and gore beyond belief.

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About the Contributor
Owen Prothro
Owen Prothro, Reporter
Owen Prothro is a reporter for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, studying journalism and media production. This is Prothro’s first year on staff. He also competes in disc golf at Wichita State. Prothro uses he/him pronouns.

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