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Film / House of 1000 Corpses

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Not the kind of house party you want an invite for...

House of 1000 Corpses is a 2003 exploitation horror film written and directed by Rob Zombie. It is his directorial debut. It was released in the United States on April 11, 2003, by LionsGate Entertainment.

Two young couples are in a field writing about strange and offbeat roadside attractions. On their journey, they meet Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig), who tells them the legend of Dr. Satan, finishing by telling them about the tree from which he was hanged. Excited by the story, they continue in search of the tree in question, picking up a hitchhiker named Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) along the way. When their car breaks down, Baby invites them to her house; but they are about to discover some very dark secrets lurking in the Firefly family...

House of 1000 Corpses was followed by The Devil's Rejects in 2005 and 3 from Hell in 2019, continuing the saga of the Firefly family.

House of 1000 Tropes:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Otis and Baby cut off one of Bill's hands before killing him.
  • Asshole Victim: Killer Karl, one of the robbers from the opening, is a massive asshole with a Hairtrigger Temper.
  • Affably Evil: Spaulding is generally a fairly jovial fellow, though he can jump from friendly to sinister at the drop of a hat.
  • Beard of Evil: Downplayed by Otis, who has Permastubble and is very evil.
  • Berserk Button: Captain Spaulding gets amused and only mildly annoyed when you try to rob him at gun point. Just don't say that you hate clowns.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Satan is the patriarch of the Firefly clan.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The opening scene, which features a botched robbery, Captain Spaulding's Cluster F-Bomb, and a massive dose of Mood Whiplash.
  • Body Horror: The fate of all the victims except Mary, who simply gets stabbed to death. Bill's death in particular is a standout example.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How the two robbers and Deputy Naish die, courtesy of Spaulding and Otis respectively.
  • Bowdlerise: This film suffered from it big time. A lot of the gore didn't make it into the movie since it was made around the time of the Columbine massacre and the Lieberman commission, which caused Universal and MGM to balk at it. The 16-32 minutes of gorier footage (supposedly) got lost in the process.
  • Clueless Deputy: Deputy Naish's hotheaded attitude masks his general insecurity, to the point Otis is able to make him drop his gun just by yelling at him.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Goddamn motherfucker got blood all over my best clown suit!"
  • Creator Cameo: Rob Zombie appears in the background briefly as Horror Host Dr. Wolfenstein's assistant. Rob Zombie intended to play Wolfenstein himself but thought that even with the monster makeup he didn't look much different and that effectively having himself introduce the film would have been too on the nose.
    • Rob Zombie also provides the voice of Dr. Satan.
  • Creepy Family: The Fireflies do have some comedic undertones until The Reveal.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Implied with Doctor Satan and his creations by extension.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: Pulled off with a convertible. Justifiable, as the victim was delirious and close to fainting.
  • Deathly Unmasking: Very early in the film, Captain Spaulding's roadside museum gets held up by a pair of Stupid Crooks in absolutely ridiculous-looking masks. The confrontation ends with Spaulding and his friend annoying the two stick-up artists into removing their masks - before taking them down in short order.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Bill is the most prominent of the tourists, and is played by Rainn Wilson, but he winds up the first to die.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: An early cut had the relatively harmless Grandpa Hugo Firefly turn out to be Dr. Satan. Rob Zombie decided this would have been anti-climatic and changed it.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: It's much more of a straight Slasher Movie than either of its follow-ups, which are closer to crime thrillers.
  • Embarrassing Animal Suit: The tourists are given these before their burial. Jerry's is especially humiliating as his is a donkey, mocking his foolishness.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Otis is introduced terrorizing some victims before going into a surprisingly philosophical rant and quoting Charles Manson.
  • Exact Words: At the end, Spaulding tells Denise that he'll "get [her] to the doctor". Otis then rises from the backseat, and the film ends with Denise being "operated" on by Dr. Satan.
  • For the Evulz: The Firefly family is insane and simply loves to torture people.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Firefly family are very close to one another, and work together in all of their crimes.
  • Final Girl: Averted. Denise escapes the Fireflies, but the driver of the car that gives her a lift back to town is the Evil Clown Captain Spaulding, who turns out to be an ally of the killer family.
  • Giggling Villain: Baby's laugh is likely to get stuck in your head.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The first film features a number of cut-aways to close-ups of what appear to be operations.
  • Hope Spot: Think Wydell, Deputy Naish, and Don are going to save the tourists? Think again.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The events of the film take place during Halloween night, which the Firefly family treats as a religious ceremony.
  • Horror Host: Dr. Wolfenstein's Creature Feature Show opens the film.
  • If I Wanted X, I Would Y: At one point, Captain Spaulding wears a shirt boasting the slogan "If I Wanted To Listen To An Asshole, I'd Fart!" on the back.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Otis when he has Mary tied up in his room.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Wydell is shot in the throat by Mama Firefly.
  • It Runs in the Family: "If your family tree does not fork, you might be a redneck."
  • Jerkass: Jerry is a loud and obnoxious jerk and Mary is smug and haughty.
    • Otis goes above and beyond this.
    • Killer Karl, one of the two robbers from the opening, spends his screentime insulting everyone in sight, threatening people at gunpoint, and tries to shoot Captain Spaulding for annoying him. Of course, it doesn’t end well for him.
  • Laughably Evil: Captain Spaulding, a local celebrity clown who turns out to be a psychotic murderer.
  • Mad Artist: Otis definitely considers himself this, which is particularly blatant with what he did to Bill.
  • Menacing Museum: Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters And Madmen is a two-bit sideshow/gas station/fried chicken joint/complete shithole in the middle of nowhere, run by the eponymous Monster Clown. Spaulding is a perverted old man with a violent streak and a twisted sense of humor, and his exhibits match: cheap mechanical recreations of infamous serial killers.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Richard Wick, one of the robbers from the film's opening. While his leader, Killer Karl, is suitably menacing, Richard is a total wimp. He's clumsy, he's shaky, his threats are delivered meekly and come across as more confusing than intimidating, he acts rather accommodating to the old man he's supposed to take hostage, and he almost goes into a crying little fit when said old man mocks him with a childish insult jingle.
  • Monster Clown: Captain Spaulding, who uses his disheveled clown persona to advertise his truck stop house of horror, but is actually a psychopath. He also doesn't take kindly to people insulting clowns.
  • Mood Whiplash: And how! The entire first half of the film flips from Bloody Hilarious to a heavy dose of Fridge Horror before the family reveals themselves to be a pack of serial killers. And then it gets worse...
  • Mugging the Monster: The opening scene consists of a pair of not-so-bright crooks trying to rob Captain Spaulding's shop. Unfortunately for them, Spaulding is far more dangerous than either of them could ever hope to be, and thanks to his hidden assistant, manages to kill them both all the while acting as though he's dealing with some unruly customers.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Captain Spaulding was made out to be a primary antagonist, despite only having about three or four scenes.
  • Nice Guy: Bill, unlike his friends, is nothing but polite to Captain Spaulding and the Fireflies. Not that it saves him, mainly because Baby got pissed off he didn’t reciprocate her affections.
  • The Savage South: Where else can you find a family of killers, a freak show made of real former people, and Captain Spaulding's Fried Chicken?
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sinister Southwest: The film is set in the fictional Texas town of Ruggsville, the home of the murderous Firefly family.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Slim Whitman's "I Remember You" is used to particularly disturbing effect. "Brick House" also plays during the flashback of Bill's murder.
  • Southern Gothic: Anywhere not full of crazy inhabitants tends to be dilapidated, brooding and eerie which only increases the Mood Whiplash.
  • Themed Aliases: The Firefly family all use names of characters from Marx Brothers films.
  • Torture Cellar: Comes standard with every secluded cabin in the middle of nowhere.
  • Torture Technician: The entire Firefly family, but Baby and Otis get the most action.
  • Title Theme Tune: The self titled theme song plays during the opening credits.
  • Trashy Tourist Trap: Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters and Madmen is a road side gas station that doubles as an eatery and an oddities Museum, complete with an all-rails tour of the nations most depraved serial killers ("Captain Spaulding's Murder Ride"). While the whole establishment is impressive on the surface, Captain Spaulding himself is a Monster Clown with a murderous temper that likes to send his customers in the direction of a family of killers (the Firefly Family) and the Mad Scientist Dr. Satan just down the road.
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: The first film is mostly about a clan of crazy psychopaths, but in the end it's revealed that cyborg monsters live under their house, and that Jerry and Denise are about to be turned into them.
  • The Voiceless: Tiny never says a word throughout the film.
  • Truncated Theme Tune: The self-titled theme song is shortened in the movie, but the full song is on the Rob Zombie album The Sinister Urge.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: Started one centered on the Fireflies, with the sequels outright elevating them to Villain Protagonists.
  • You Taste Delicious: Otis licks the cheek of a bound and gagged Denise while wearing a mask made out of her father's face.


Video Example(s):


Captain Spaulding's Museum

An ad for the Museum is often broadcasted on television that promotes the establishment for its "Fried Chicken and Gasoline" and features audio commentary and an appearance by none other than the owner, Captain Spaulding, himself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / KitschyLocalCommercial

Media sources: