Owen Gleiberman
April 25, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Dee Snider, the former demon rag-doll singer of Twisted Sister, made a crummy little horror movie in 1998 called ”Dee Snider’s Strangeland,” and now the cult heavy metal star Rob Zombie has written and directed House of 1000 Corpses. What’s next — ”Paul Stanley’s Bad Dreams”? It would be easy enough to chortle at this phenomenon of hellfire rocker-turned-nightmare auteur, though Zombie’s labor of bodily goo is, if anything, a cut above Snider’s. It starts in standard ”Chainsaw” fashion, with a quartet of collegiate travelers trapped by a family of redneck psychos. This is one of those movies in which the lunatic son, who’s got five cheerleaders hog-tied in the attic, isn’t half as scary as Karen Black, who tries to raise her career from the dead by overacting such dialogue as ”There’s no one ’round here I feel like jaw-flappin’ at no more!”

Then the bodies begin to pile up, and Zombie, pillaging from every low-budget freak-out he can, proves that he at least has a lurid touch for shock theatrics. Blood spatters on the floor like a Jackson Pollock, people are hacked apart and stripped of their skin to the tune of ”Brick House,” and S&M vamps flash some thigh at the camera for that special rock & roll death-jam touch. ”House of 1000 Corpses” isn’t coherent, exactly, but what dripping-ghoul horror movie is these days? The new rule is, It’s not hip to make sense when you’re raising hell.

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