House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

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Released 27-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Rob Zombie (Director)
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-Tiny F*cked A Stump
Featurette-Casting
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer-1 + Radio Spot
Gallery-Photo
Featurette-Rehearsals - 3
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Radio Spots-1 only
Easter Egg-2
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 89:05 (Case: 88)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (65:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rob Zombie
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Sid Haig
Bill Moseley
Sheri Moon
Karen Black
Chris Hardwick
Erin Daniels
Jennifer Jostyn
Rainn Wilson
Tom Towles
Walt Goggins
Matthew McGrory
Robert Allen Mukes
Dennis Fimple
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Scott Humphrey
Rob Zombie


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Rob Zombie's feature film debut is a no-holds-barred attempt to return to the halcyon days of the horror genre. As director and writer, Rob has succeeded in creating an authentic and convincing comedy-thriller, with an undeniable 70s feel throughout the film. When it realised the kind of sadistic thrill-fest it had on its hands, the original studio dropped this film like a hot potato. A long wait followed, and much has been documented about the troubles this film experienced in gaining a release - but thankfully it was picked up and distributed by Lion's Gate in the U.S., leading to a successful theatrical run in monetary terms. It seems a little weird that the studio who so quickly dropped the film before it could be released theatrically is now distributing its DVD in Region 4.

    It's October 30th, 1977 - Halloween Eve. Local Ruggsville news bulletins are dominated by stories concerning the disappearance of five cheerleaders in suspicious circumstances. Meanwhile, on a dark and quiet highway two young couples are travelling together, researching roadside attractions for a book they intend to publish. Nearly out of gas, they make a stop for petrol at Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters and Madmen - a curious establishment that boasts a murder ride and fried chicken. After an enthusiastic welcome from the Captain (Sid Haig) and a quick look around, they decide to stay and experience the famed murder ride, much to the dismay of the women. Spaulding tells the group of a local legend called Doctor Satan and the men decide it would make great subject matter for the book. When the ride is completed and their visit over they head on their way, only to encounter foul weather. They notice a hitch-hiker stuck in the rain, Baby (Sheri Moon), and they offer her a lift home to her family's isolated farm and find themselves stranded there with a flat tyre. Baby's family offers them dinner and decides to teach their visitors the true joys of Halloween.

    The father of one of the young girls calls the cops and raises the alarm when his daughter doesn't make a scheduled call, and enquiries soon lead investigations to the Firefly residence.

    One of the elements that sets this film apart from other recent horror titles is the absolute lack of likable characters. We never really grow to empathise with the victims or the dysfunctional Firefly family - it's only the great performances and contrasting characters that help to pull the viewer along.

    Director and writer Rob Zombie was born Robert Cummings (later changed to Rob Straker) and grew up on a diet of comics, music, low budget horror and science fiction. After studying art and graphic design he started his first band, White Zombie, in the mid-eighties and made many independent recordings before gaining a contract with Geffen in the 90s. White Zombie recorded and released two albums for for the label (plus a remix album) before breaking up in 1998. Rob's solo career followed, and he currently has two albums to his name - as well as a recent greatest hits package. During his years as a musician he has found the time to create cover artwork and direct music videos for his own musical projects as well as many other artists such as Prong and his younger brother's band, Powerman 5000. Rob's amazing and unique visual style is instantly recognisable and this film certainly reflects a lot of the elements he has used in the past.

    The ensemble cast is a retro-horror fan's dream. The always convincing Sid Haig stars as Captain Spaulding and horror queen Karen Black appears as the nymphomaniac Mother Firefly. Rob cast his partner, Sheri Moon, as the psychotic killer Baby and Bill Moesley (from Army of Darkness) as the equally psychotic Otis, who was influenced by the preachy ramblings of Charles Manson.

    House of 1000 Corpses wears its influences on its sleeve, and makes no secret of the fact that it is paying tribute to a genre that is in dire need of resurrection. Sure, it's not particularly original, but visually it's a breath of fresh air in what until recently was a rather stale niche. This film's sequel, The Devil's Rejects wrapped principal photography last month and according to Rob is a darker, more violent effort with less of the humorous thread that is found here. I for one am looking forward to seeing how these entertaining characters develop in the sequel.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and although I love the film I must say that it appears not a lot has been done to create a PAL transfer for us. I watched the Region 1 NTSC and Region 4 PAL discs side by side and found absolutely no PAL speed-up, which indicates to me that we have an undesirable NTSC-PAL conversion in Region 4. This immediately explained the overall appearance of the transfer, and the often jittery jumps between frames during scenes containing panning or fast motion on screen.

    This transfer is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This is close to the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    An assortment of mediums were used during the production of this film, all of which combine to make a highly varied and rewarding visual experience. Handycam, 8mm film and even videotape were used in some scenes for an amateur or homemade look. Short dream sequences are given a distinctly alternate appearance, using cross processing and negative imagery to create an other-worldly feel. There is a notable transition from a negative image to colour at 56:30, making for a very memorable effect.

    The level of sharpness in this transfer is quite good, considering its NTSC origins. There is a fair degree of film-like clarity present with very little grain or imperfection to speak of. Shadow detail is excellent, showing clear definition during scenes with minimal lighting and adequate blacks where needed. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    Colouring throughout the film is rich and realistic, with not a hint of bleeding or oversaturation. Instances of bright red in the film contained some slight shimmering, consistent with the NTSC format.

    The transfer has been encoded at a variable bitrate with an average of 6.4Mb/s. MPEG compression artefacts are apparent at a few points during the feature, most noticeable during dissolves and moments of intense action on screen. Some MPEG grain can be seen around the opening titles and a minor amount of macro blocking makes itself known during the fast paced, detailed title sequence. Aliasing is present to a small degree, but rarely becomes an issue. I noted a few positive and negative film artefacts, such as at 61:24, but these don't extend beyond tiny specks of dust and shouldn't present any problems to the average viewer.

    There are no subtitle streams included on this disc. The cover slick states that an English subtitle stream is included, however this is certainly not the case.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 format), with the layer transition placed during the feature at 65:44. The pause noticeably disturbs a scene transition, interrupting an echo effect in the film's soundtrack.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD in Region 4 and very little is mentioned about them on the cover slick. The default soundtrack is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 stream encoded at 448Kb/s, followed by an English dts option, encoded at 768Kb/s. A English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo stream is strangely included as well, with a bitrate of 224Kb/s. On top of these, there are also Director's Commentary (224Kb/s) and Isolated Music (192Kb/s) tracks included. I listened to all of the soundtracks in their entirety, aside from the Dolby Digital stereo option which I only sampled periodically.

    A short but distractingly loud electronic buzz emanates from all channels at 39:45 - and is certainly an error of some kind. This annoying hiccough is present on all five audio streams, even the Director's Commentary, and seems to be most emphasised in the rear channels of the Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts streams. This error has been thoughtfully transferred to us from the Region 1 master.

    The English dialogue is clear and distinct at all times. There are some thick accents to be found with some of the film's characters, such as Mother Firefly (Karen Black), but enunciation is never an issue. The film's ADR is seamless and natural throughout. Audio sync is similarly spot on and never becomes an issue.

    I couldn't find any real difference between the Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts audio streams, aside from a slight difference in overall output level making the Dolby Digital 5.1 track noticeably louder. The comparative amount of brightness and depth in these streams was virtually identical in my opinion. None of the three remaining Dolby Digital 2.0 streams contain a surround flag, but out of curiosity I manually engaged Pro Logic II processing to see if any surround information is present. I found that processing directed some slight atmospherics to the rear channels in these streams, but they never came close to the performance of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    If you're Dolby Digital 5.1 or dts capable, you'll be absolutely rapt with the surround activity accompanying this film. The use of surround channels is rich and enveloping without overly bombarding the viewer scene after scene. Rear activity ranges from atmospheric effects such as wind, rain and lightning to dedicated sounds such as off screen voices at 21:25. As a whole this soundtrack is pleasantly realistic, but restrained in comparison to other recent horror titles.

    Director Rob Zombie has an outstanding ear for music in film, and makes superb use of the many varied tunes collected here. Rob himself contributed several new songs to the soundtrack of this film, one of which is a remake of The Commodores' classic Brick House. Rob is joined on the song by original vocalist Lionel Richie and makes for a surprisingly entertaining pairing. Other pieces of music in the film include the old Slim Whitman ballad I Remember You, utilised in the film's most harrowing and violent scene, and the cheesy Buck Owens number from the 60s Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass?. The Ramones are also represented on the soundtrack with one of their classic tunes, I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.

    The LFE channel provides a solid backbone to the experience, building tension where needed and adding dedicated bottom end to effects like gunfire and thunder. As with the surround channel usage, I found the subwoofer activity to be realistic and not at all dominating.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is a pretty comprehensive collection of extras, covering most aspects of the filmmaking process in an interesting and thought provoking manner. All of the material here is presented in 1.33:1, full frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio unless otherwise noted.

Menu

    This is the best range of interactive menus I have come across, with each of the lead characters acting as a guide for the main pages. The main menu page loads as the shop counter of Captain Spaulding's and the man himself greets the viewer, prompting us to make a selection- but don't p*** him off, because he gets pretty nasty! Baby introduces us to each of the special features, while Otis keeps us entertained as we flick through the scene selection menu. All of the menu pages are 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Making Of (4:14)

    This Making Of doesn't delve very deeply at all in its short runtime, and only includes some brief comments from the cast and director. In effect, it really only feels like the trailer for the Making Of.

Featurette - Behind the Scenes (2:36)

    Some simple home video footage taken on the set and in the catering tent while the cast is eating. Not much to see here.

Feature Commentary by Director Rob Zombie

    This is an interesting contribution from the Director, because he comes across as a very mild mannered and intelligent artist as well as a dedicated film fan. In the commentary he discusses cut scenes, filming locations, assorted guest cameos, the inspiration for many scenes and his appreciation for the Charles Manson family films. The quality of the voice recording changes intermittently and may be due Rob changing his sitting position in relation to the microphone. Also raised is the production challenges Rob faced concerning the film's 70s feel, and his unfortunate dealings with studio executives while trying to get the film released theatrically. Rob always has something to say, so extended silences are rare. I found this to be an above average effort, as far as commentaries go.

Tiny F***ed A Stump (3:07)

    A series of 'knock, knock' jokes, as told by Baby, Otis and Spaulding.

Casting (2:05)

    A short and almost schizophrenic audition from Grampa Hugo (the late Dennis Fimple), reciting his comedy routine from the Showtime scene.

Trailers (3)

    These trailers are presented as 1.33:1 full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Still Gallery

    There's sixty stills to flick through, presented here with 16x9 enhancement. The photos are mostly taken on the set and in pre-production as various masks and make-up effects are being developed.

Rehearsals

    Three clips are presented here, all sourced from analogue videotape. Although these are short they give a glimpse of how the scenes were rehearsed before filming began.

Interviews (4)

Easter Eggs (2)

(SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read)

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Here's where it gets interesting! There are several subtle differences between these discs, and some major ones as well.

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    As I established above in the audio comparison, in my opinion there is little to distinguish between the Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts soundtracks in this case. Believe me, I'm a big fan of dts but there's nothing special about this dts soundtrack that I could hear. As I also noted above, the annoying but short buzz is sourced from the Region 1 disc, so they have it too.

    The Region 4 main menu is identical to the Region 1, but the Lion's Gate logo has been removed from our menu. If you turn up the brightness of your display, the outline of the Lion's Gate logo can be easily seen on the Region 4 main menu. When highlighted in Region 1, this logo links to both the Lion's Gate trailers and the additional Easter Egg (by pressing the right cursor), so it would seem that in removing this logo the disc's authors have also removed access to the Easter Egg in Region 4.

    The Region 1 layer transition is located during the feature at 61:43, and is slightly less obtrusive in comparison to the Region 4 layer change. The feature runtime of the two regions varies by a couple of seconds, but rest assured that the two cuts are identical - I checked them myself. The PAL transfer appears to have several seconds of additional black silence prior to the beginning of the film.

    The Region 1 video transfer is encoded at a constant bitrate, and suffers from considerably less compression artefacting in comparison to the variable Region 4 bitrate.

    Judging by reviews from Region 2, it would appear that we have been given the disc that was authored by Tartan in the UK. This company is renowned for their less than perfect transfers of foreign films. None of the regions are perfect - as a consumer you have a choice of either the local NTSC-PAL conversion with unimpressive dts or alternatively you can import the Region 1 with more consistent picture quality and an additional Easter Egg. Both have the same small audio glitch.

    With both the Region 1 and Region 4 discs on hand, I must admit that my opinion sways toward the Region 1 NTSC due to its superior picture quality - however if you are less fussy you should buy this wherever you can get it cheapest.

Summary

    House of 1000 Corpses is an excellent filmmaking debut, and a great horror film to boot. I can't wait to see how the story develops in the soon to be released sequel, The Devil's Rejects.

    The PAL video transfer is sadly sourced from an NTSC master.

    The audio transfer includes a dts option, however an annoying, albeit small glitch exists.

    The extras have been overseen by the Director and although they are brief, represent great value to fans and casual viewers alike. The animated menus are the best I've seen to date.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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Comments (Add)
I Love Horror Movies.. - Nick
I have to agree this ones a dud - AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE! - Greg
Horror film ?? The Sound of Music is more of a horror - TonyG
Total S***e!! - Anonymous
1000 Zombies - Not that bad. - Rodda (This... is my *bioom* stick!)
Good fun - Johnny Wadd (i am bionic)
Working on a Sequel... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!)
Best Interative Menu Ever Designed - Michael H (wish my bio were here)