April 25, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

House of 1000 Corpses

Current Status
In Season
88 minutes
Wide Release Date
Karen Black, Jeanne Carmen, Sid Haig, Chris Hardwick, Michael J. Pollard
Rob Zombie
Lions Gate Films
Rob Zombie
Mystery, Horror, Thriller

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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