If you have yet to read my initial thoughts on House of 1000 Corpses you can always go back and check 'em out here before you read any further. Got it? Good, you've graduated so you may now read on. I was a little worried about House of 1000 Corpses and its replay value on home video. After seeing it in theatres I wasn't quite blown away, but I did respect its outrageousness and dedication to the horror genre. Now that House is on DVD, the verdict is in so let's check it out.
Two couples on a roadside attraction journey are about to hit rock bottom. It all starts when they happen upon Capt. Spaulding's (Sid Haig) place, a kinda hybrid horror attraction, gas station and fried chicken joint. The kids yak it up with good ole' Capt. Spaulding and take a trip on his patented horror ride, which is where they learn the local legend of Dr. Satan. Convincing Spaulding to jot them down directions, the four head out in search of the good Dr. It's at this point that they happen upon a hitchhiker in the rain named Baby (played by Sheri Moon) and make the mistake of picking her up. Before you can say Motel Hell, someone shoots out their tire and we're on our way to horror heaven.
The four kids are taken to Baby's house where they meet "the family" including Grandpa, Firefly (Karen Black) and Otis (Bill Moseley). There's dinner, a very David Lynch-esque performance and before things get too heated, their car is ready. Of course leaving isn't going to be quite that easy and it's at this point that the real downward spiral into hell begins. They're each dragged back into the house, humiliated and tortured and prepped for a bizarre Halloween night ritual.
The first time I saw House of 1000 Corpses I was stunned by the fact that it was an eye-popping visual overload. There was so much going on and the film really seemed to want to be too many different things all at once, I didn't quite know what to make of it. I enjoyed it, but I feared that the film would really only work once and not play well on repeat viewings. There didn't seem to be enough glue holding it all together. Well, color me surprised cause I'm here to report that the film does indeed hold up quite well and it's now a welcomed addition to my DVD collection.
It's worth noting that I still feel that House of 1000 Corpses is not as groundbreaking as folks would like to lead you to believe and Rob Zombie has certainly NOT reinvented the horror genre. BUT, the fact that this film was spit out by more than a casual fan of horror speaks volumes and like I said in my original review, this flick has balls. I respect that, and the constant momentum that House gives off works even better at home than it did in the theatre. There's not as much overload and it's a hell of a lot easier to pick up on things and appreciate the real scope of the project at hand. It doesn't look like this by accident folks; a hell of a lot of effort went into this thing.
Aside from the real horrific visuals, the true joy that is House stems from the fantastic ensemble cast. Zombie has brought together a great group of actors who seem to relish every moment that they're in they're roles. Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Karen Black and best of all Sheri Moon, whose performance and creepy cackling laugh kept me on edge the entire time. Forget the fact that she's super sexilicous and that we get to see her tushy, she pulls in one hell of a frightening performance, great stuff indeed.
Lions Gate gets high marks for this transfer, House looks simply splendid on this DVD. There's really no evidence of print damage (you'll have to search mighty hard to catch a spec) and colors are really bold and solid. It just looks good, plain and simple. Just as spectacular as the picture quality is the 5.1 audio mix. I was really impressed with how balanced and effective the 5.1 mix was for such a low budget production. The fact that a 5.1 mix was even included shocked the hell out of me, I reall wasn't prepared for it's effectiveness. Ambient sounds and directional effects never overpower the dialogue or get too loud for their own good. It's all very impressive.
On paper, there are a lot of extras. But when you actually add everything up, it's not nearly as impressive as they'd like you to think it is. There are two brief (very brief) featurettes (behind the scenes and making of), trailers and a radio spot, some brief casting and rehearsal footage (one is of a scene that's not in the film), a few cast/crew interviews and a still gallery (which is actually pretty good). There's also a bit called "Tiny Fucked a Stump" which you'll need to see to find out for yourself, a 2.0 score only track and an audio commentary with Rob Zombie (it has its moments). The extras are a mixed bag, it's all very short and inconsistent, plus they really should have gotten someone to QC it. During the interviews, the questions pop up on the screen and then the actor answers it; during the Sid Haig interview, the same question pops up twice for two different answers.
Of course it's also worth mentioning the animated menus we've all heard so much about. It's true that cast members were brought back in to shoot scenes for the menus and they are definitely cool. Once you ring the bell for service, you're granted access to the menus; the longer you wait, the angrier the person introducing the section you're in gets. It's a lot of fun, and if you liked the "Tiny Fucked a Stump" extra, look for a little easter egg that's along the same lines which is pretty cool as well.
I'm sure there are some people who will cry foul because of the R-Rated presentation of the film here and the lack of deleted scenes. I don't think that we'd have this version if it wasn't Zombie's preferred cut. Sometimes less is more folks, so no whining. The more I think about it and the more I sit with it, the more I like it. While this special edition could have been a bit more special, it still has some interesting extras and a top-notch audio/video presentation. Definitely a worthy addition to you horror collection, check it out.