(In French, On DVD, November 2017) In-between 2007’s Halloween and House of 1000 Corpses, I’m zero-for-two when it comes to Rob Zombie films, and I’ve gathered enough to suggest that it’s not going to get any better. Given that Zombie both writes and directs, there’s no looking around for the films’ real creative force: it’s all his. Alas, the grimy trash aesthetics may work fine on rock music, but they’re nothing particularly compelling as movies. Once you’ve seen one crazy hellbilly family, you’ve seen more than enough, and House of 1000 Corpses doesn’t really distinguish itself from scores of just-as-awful other horror movies. Zombie’s predilection for non-sequitur inserts may be colourful, but it’s just another element in a self-insisting goulash of horror clichés that don’t accumulate as much as they overflow messily. I found it remarkably easy to dismiss House of 1000 Corpses, not as a horror movie or a gruesome comedy, but simply as a furious ball of nonsense meaning nothing. The relentless assault on sensibilities is more exasperating than unnerving, and it doesn’t help that the film doesn’t have a drop of innovation in it: all the way to the final kill, it’s just more of the same, executed in a jumble. There are a few known actors in minor roles (including Walton Goggins and Rainn Wilson) but nothing worth a look for any viewer who doesn’t already identify as a gore-hound.
(In French, On TV, October 2017) I’m really not a fan of slasher movies, horror remakes or the Michael Myers Halloween movies, but even by those low standards, the Halloween remake is a remarkably boring affair. Too bad; I’m an unlikely fan of writer/director Rob Zombie’s music, but his trash-horror sensibilities don’t translate all that well to the screen. In this version of the John Carpenter horror movie, we delve deeper in the screwed-up dynamics of the Myers family leading to the rampage, but this doesn’t provide depth or substance as much as it adds thirty minutes of prologue to an already dull and superficial film. This is one of those horror movies punctuated by gruesome deaths every few minutes—it’s bad enough, but the lack of originality, wit or even decency does much to confirm the film as a soulless remake undistinguishable from so many other cheap horror films. Perhaps the only thing setting it apart from other horror remakes is the copious amount of nudity—alas, usually as a prelude to the butchery. The last half-hour of the film is particularly annoying, as its soundtrack becomes a quasi-nonstop series of female screams as Myers kills almost everyone he sees. Malcolm McDowell makes a decent showing as Doctor Loomis, but the rest of the cast is largely undistinguishable in the small scream-and-get-killed roles that they’re provided. Halloween is hampered by its own antiheroic sensibilities: There is little reason to care about the victims, and trying to humanize an unrepentant mass murderer just isn’t interesting. The result is entirely optional to anyone, including seasoned horror watchers.