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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

‘House of 1000 Corpses’ – 7 Things We Learned from Rob Zombie’s 20th Anniversary Commentary Track

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, House of 1000 Corpses has received a new Blu-ray edition. The two-disc box set is loaded with extras — including never-before-seen cast and crew interviews — among other bells and whistles, but writer-director Rob Zombie’s new commentary track is a digital exclusive (here’s how to listen).

It’s a bizarre choice — a timing issue is the only logical explanation I can fathom — but thankfully the Blu-ray comes with a digital copy that includes the track. Zombie begins by noting that it’s his first time watching the movie in its entirety since recording the previous commentary for the DVD 20 years ago, but he manages to remember plenty about the tumultuous production.

Here are seven things I learned from Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses commentary…

1. Zombie intended to play Dr. Wolfenstein.

The footage of horror host Dr. Wolfenstein that opens the movie was the first thing shot for the movie, and Zombie himself had intended to play the role:

“I was actually supposed to be Dr. Wolfenstein, and I immediately realized that trying to be in front of the camera and behind the camera was a bad idea. I just couldn’t get my brain around it. So I quickly said to my production designer, Gregg Gibbs, who I know was an actor and a ham; he jumped into the whole look, which we just created instantly, basically, in the makeup trailer. As far as I remember he was probably reading off cue cards, because he wouldn’t have had time to memorize anything, and we just went with it from there, and I think it worked out great.”

Zombie instead makes a quick cameo as Wolfenstein’s Igor-esque assistant.

2. Forrest J. Ackerman lent props to the movie.

Forrest J. Ackerman in ‘Dead Alive’

Some of the props that adorn Captain Spaulding’s gas station interior were borrowed from the legendary memorabilia collection of Famous Monsters of Filmland founding editor Forrest J. Ackerman. A bespectacled Frankenstein mask modeled after Ackerman is highlighted in a brief shot.

Other set decor includes serial killer portraits painted specifically for the film and props made by a freak show exhibit maker. Zombie still has them in storage.

3. Zombie shot several sequences himself on a camcorder.

All of the grainy video footage that serves as interstitials throughout the film – including the opening credit sequence, Captain Spaulding’s commercial, Bill Moseley as newscaster Lance Brockwell, Otis toying with the kidnapped cheerleaders, and the final shots of Dr. Satan, among others – was shot by Zombie on a camcorder after the movie was “dumped” by Universal.

“We all put so much time and effort into this movie, and for many people involved it was our first movie, and everybody really wanted it to succeed… When it gets basically thrown in the garbage, everybody was down for doing anything I asked them to.” He continues, “We’d just shoot it on a weekend, I’d pay everybody some cash, and we’d edit it into the movie. That’s the way this came together. It started off as a decent-budget studio picture, and by the end it was a film being cobbled together by me and my friends, who wouldn’t give up on it.”

Snippets of Super8 footage he shot as a kid are also included in segues.

4. Zombie recorded songs for the soundtrack to get finishing funds for the movie.

House of 1000 Corpses is Zombie’s only movie with his own music in it, although he never intended to do so. He explains, “The reason I did that was to get the money, because if I did five songs and put them on the soundtrack, I could get a big enough advance that I could finish the movie. Because that was never my intention to do music for this movie, at all; it just turned out that way.”

5. The film’s black comedy tone was not originally intended.

House of 1000 Corpses ending

On the topic of making one of the opening scene’s armed robbers serve as comedic relief, Zombie reveals that he originally envisioned the film as straight horror rather than black comedy:

“It wasn’t necessarily conceived to be almost like a black comedy. It started off in my mind thinking it would be serious, but it sort of evolved into something else as we went along, and rather than fighting it I just kind of went with it. Back when I first finished it I think I was kind of at odds with the tones it had been but embraced what it was.”

He describes House of 1000 Corpses as “if you made Texas Chain Saw Massacre with the vibe of Rocky Horror Picture Show,” two of his favorite movies growing up.

6. Zombie is the voice of Dr. Satan.

In the original script, Dr. Satan was revealed to be Grandpa Hugo, but Zombie felt it was “a weak ending” and decided to retool it.

Walter Phelan was eventually cast in the role, but Zombie provided his voice for his brief bit of gibberish dialogue. “I don’t remember what I was saying. I actually don’t think I was saying anything that made sense; it was just kind of like a made-up language.”

7. The ending was reshot to give a false sense of safety.

While the original ending to House of 1000 Corpses is confirmed to be lost, Zombie details the differences and explains why he changed it:

“In the original ending, [Denise] comes out of the ground at night, and she gets picked up by Captain Spaulding in a Captain Spaulding truck. It looks like an old-fashioned milk truck. But by this point I thought, ‘This movie has been in darkness for so long. To escape during the daylight’s gonna make it seem like she survived, ‘cause that’s how most movies would probably unfold. To have her come at night, there’s still the danger. Could the family still be outside?’ ‘Cause you wouldn’t really get the time jump.

“In the original one, Captain Spaulding picks her up and Ravelli is in the back. He swings open this big metal door in the truck and pulls her into the back. That’s how it ends, with then the Captain Spaulding truck driving back to the house. So she gets taken right back to the house, thus really creating the connection of Captain Spaulding with the family, of which we don’t really do until Devil’s Rejects.

“But I didn’t like how it looked. It didn’t really look good. It didn’t have any impact. So that’s when I said, ‘Okay, we’ll move to daylight, and it’ll still be Captain Spaulding, he’ll still pick her up, but it’ll be Otis in the back.’ Same basic idea but just visually opens up the movie a lot more. And it makes it seem, because it’s daylight, that perhaps she’s safe, even though by this point in this movie it’s a pretty safe bet that no one’s safe.”

House of 1000 Corpses is available now on Blu-ray via Lionsgate.

The post ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ – 7 Things We Learned from Rob Zombie’s 20th Anniversary Commentary Track appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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